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Oct 212015

HMS VictoryOn October 21, 1805, just off Cape Trafalgar in South Western Spain, the British fleet under Admiral Lord Horatio NELSON defeated the combined fleets of France and Spain, sinking 22 ships for the loss of none.  It was a seminal event in naval history and is celebrated by the Royal Navy to this day.  Among other places there is an annual ceremony in Portsmouth aboard HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship, which is the oldest still-commissioned naval ship in the world. See picture left, courtesy of the Royal Navy.

Before the battle, Nelson flew one of the most famous naval flag signals of all time: “England expects that every man will do his duty”, and they did!  The British National Archives have a website featuring the names of those who served on the British fleet that day, here:


HoratioNelson1Nelson, who had previously lost both an arm and an eye in other battles, was shot by a French marksman and died later that day.  Already a nationally-known hero (thanks, some would say, to a strong sense of self-promotion!) his body was preserved in a barrel of brandy and carried back to England.  Rumour has it that sailors drank the brandy on the way home but the truth is not known.


Anyway, the desire to honour the dead Admiral lead to the construction of many memorials, the most famous of which is Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square in London, though there are others in Montréal in Canada, Bridgetown in Barbados; Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, Nelson’s native county, and elsewhere.


The surname Nelson is a name under study with the Guild, registered by David Nelson of Florida, who started his study over three years ago.  His focus so far has been building trees for interesting Nelsons, for example, the Country music star, Willie Nelson.  David relates that he has 150 trees on in the hope that he will be able to join them up as he works back, but has had little luck so far!  Do you have Nelsons or Neilsons in your study?  You can contact David by clicking this link.


This may be the start of an occasional series.  If you are a Guild member reading this, does your study have a special day for remembering your name, like Trafalgar Day?  Would you like us to publicize your study on that day?  If so, send us an email by clicking this link.

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