John Wood Nelson, commission agent

John Wood Nelson was born on 1 Oct 1770 in Marylebone, London. He was active in various partnerships of London commission agents for the West Indies sugar trade and factorage business connected with the Lascelles family of Harewood House in Yorkshire. The family of Lascelles, long established in Yorkshire, ranked among the top 1% of aristocratic slave-owning families of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and owned 22 working plantations on the islands of Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, and Tobago. Henry Lascelles, M.P. for Northallerton 1745-52, founded the firm of Lascelles and Maxwell, sugar factors, of Mark Lane, London; which in 1763 became Lascelles, Clarke, and Daling, supervising the considerable holdings of the various Barons and Earls of Harewood. William Daling was a partner until 1790, whereafter Nathaniel Elliott and John Wood Nelson oversaw operations for the rest of the period of enslavement. Elliott combined a mercantile and legal career until he retired in 1798.

From 1798-1805 John Wood Nelson formed the partnership of Adam, Whalley and Nelson with John William Adam and Josiah Whalley at Hylords Court, Crutched Friars. These commission agents extended credit to their West Indies correspondents in anticipation of sales and commonly found a reliable partner and engaged brokers, clerks, and others to provide a specialist marketing service. Sugar was sold by sample to grocers and the condition of the enslaved, the number of livestock, “and attendant occurrences” on each estate. refiners. Coopers opened the casks and sent samples to the commission house at Hylords Court.

John Wood Nelson was the London agent for Edward Lascelles (1740-1820), 1st Earl Harewood, and is on record in 1801 of reminding newly appointed Barbados attorneys that an annual enumeration of all the slaves for each property was expected; these returns were supplemented by biannual statements describing the sugar crop,

On 1 May 1805, his first partnership was mutually dissolved and reformed as Nelson and Adam with John Wood Nelson and John Adam at Savage Gardens, Crutched Friars.

From 1827-1838 it became Nelson, Adam and Nelson with Benjamin Adam, John Wood, and his son John Henry Nelson, and from then until 1851 it was Nelson and Adam, with John Wood Nelson and William Adam.

In this period John Wood Nelson lived at 37 Doughty Street with a summer residence at Upton Court, near Windsor, a manor farm and the property of Earl Harewood.

He died in late 1844 at Stoke Damerel in Devon. His wife, Mary Porter whom he had married in Rotherhithe in 1798, survived him until December 1858. Both are buried in St Nicholas’s Church Cemetery,
 with one of their four sons, Charles Charnock Nelson 1803-1873 and their daughter-in-law Jane d. 1882.


John Wood Nelson’s will made on 5 Jan 1836 doesn’t leave anything specific to his son Charles Charnock, however in it we read the following, from a few months later.


“Appeared personally, Charles Charnock Nelson of 30 Hyde Park Gardens co. Middlesex Esq., William Wilkinson and Henry Kent Porter both of Savage Gardens in the City of London Gentlemen and made oath as follows and first the said Charles Charnock Nelson for himself made oath that he is the son of the said John Wood Nelson formerly of Mecklenburg Square in the parish of St. Pancras in the county of Middlesex and late of Hyde Park Gardens in the parish of Paddington in the same county but at Stoke Damerel in the county of Devon Esq. deceased, and that shortly after the death of the deceased which took place on the 28th day of October 1844, as this deponent on searching in a tin box containing interest bonds amounting in value to the sum of £10,500 and which box was fastened with a padlock and kept in the iron safe of the said deceased where he kept papers and documents of value situate in the wine cellar found therein the paper writing hereto annexed purporting to be an contain a codicil to the last will and testament of the said deceased the said codicil being written on the back of franked letter and in the words following, to wit: The securities in this box I have given to Mrs. Nelson, my wife being sure that she will do all that is right relative to them at a suitable time therefore I deem them not to be proved with my will after my decease. John Wood Nelson 26 Nov 1836.”




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