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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor



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Wolfred Nelson

NELSON, Wolfred, Canadian insurgent, born in Montreal, 10 July, 1792; died there, 17 June, 1863. He was the son of William Nelson, a commissariat officer in the British navy. He studied medicine, was licensed to practise in January, 1811, and established himself at St. Denis, on Richelieu river. In the war of 1812 Dr. Nelson volunteered and served as a surgeon. In 1827 he successfully contested the representation of Sorel with Attorney-General (afterward Chief-Justice) James Stuart, and was subsequently active in Canadian politics. He was one of the principal promoters and leaders of the rebellion of 1837, and presided over the meeting of the "Four counties" at St. Charles on 28 October, when resolutions inimical to the British government were adopted and armed resistance to constituted authority was finally determined upon. A troop under Colonel Charles S. Gore was despatched to arrest Dr. Nelson and other insurgents; but he and his friends retreated to his residence at St. Denis, where with a small force of the inhabitants a successful resistance was made. Shots were fired, but the insurgents being strongly posted in a stone-house, the troops were forced to retreat. Soon afterward a force of 1,000 insurgents were defeated at St. Charles by a body of loyalist troops under Colonel George A. Wetherall. After this disaster, the flight of Louis J. Papineau, the leader of the rebellion, and the approach of British troops, Dr. Nelson attempted to escape, but was arrested and kept in confinement until he was sentenced to imprisonment for life in the Bermudas. The house of lords having declared the transportation of Dr. Nelson and his companions illegal, he was permitted to leave the island, and came to the United States, 1 November, 1838. He settled in Plattsburg, New York, and practised medicine until August, 1842, when, an amnesty having been declared, he returned to Montreal and resided there till his death. In 1844 he was elected by his old friends on Richelieu river to represent the county of that name, and was reelected to the next parliament. Declining a third election, he was appointed in 1851 an inspector of prisons, which office he held till December, 1859, when he became chairman of the board of prison inspectors. During the ship fever of 1847 he had rendered great service to the poor, sick, and dying immigrants at the risk of his own life, and during the cholera years, as chairman of the board of health, he was also zealous. He was twice elected mayor of the city of Montreal, and repeatedly chosen president and vice-president of the Medical board and college of surgeons for Lower Canada. --His brother, Robert, surgeon, born in Montreal in January, 1794; died in Gifford's, Staten island, 1 March, 1873, studied medicine, and attained eminence as a surgeon. He served during the war of 1812, and in 1827 was elected, with Louis J. Pal?i-neau, to represent Montreal in parliament. He was known to sympathize with the insurgents, but did not participate actively in the uprising of 1837. After the encounter between his brother and the royal troops at St. Denis, Robert was arrested and imprisoned, but he was afterward admitted to bail. He then went to the United States, and in 1838 invaded Canada at the head of 600 men and concentrated his force at Napierville. He styled himself "president of the provisional government." Hearing of the approach of the British under Sir James Macdonell, he retreated toward the frontier, but made a final stand in a church, from which he was dislodged, and fled to the United States, leaving fifty killed and an equal number wounded. He went afterward to California, and in 1862 was a consulting surgeon in New York. In addition to articles in medical journals, he wrote an account of the Asiatic cholera that prevailed in Canada in 1832 and translated Hupeland's "System of Medicine." --Robert's son, Charles Eugene, physician, born in Montreal, 28 March, 1837, was educated in London and Cheltenham, England, and at the Napoleon college, Paris. In 1858 he began the study of medicine in London, was graduated in 1863, and the same year began practice with his father in New York. In 1883 he became editor of the New York "Planet," in 1885 assistant editor of the "Eastern Medical Journal," Worcester, Massachusetts, and in 1886 its editor. He has founded the Robert Nelson gold medal (commemorative of his father) in connection with the medical school of Lennoxville university, Canada. Dr. Nelson invented a rectal bougie, which bears his name. He has contributed many articles to the "New York Medical Journal," "New England Medical Monthly," "Canada Medical Record," and other similar professional publications, and is the author of a life of his father, which was published in the "New York Medical Register" for 1873.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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