Robert Nelson (1665-1714) was a rich religious pamphleteer, who chose to be buried in the new burial ground rather than at St George’s, Bloomsbury. His tomb, within railings and with a large urn on top, is on the south side of the Gardens. His burial made the new cemetery fashionable. John Timbs, historian (1801-1875) commented: ‘people like to be buried in company, and in good company’. The Latin inscription on the tomb is as follows:
Here Is Buried
ROBERT NELSON, Knight
born to his father John, a London citizen of the Association of Merchants trading with the Turks: and his mother Deliciae, the sister of Gabriel Roberts, a Golden Knight, from the same city and community: he had as wife the most honoured Lady Theophila Lucy, widow of Kingsman Lucy, Bart., and daughter of the most noble John, Earl of Berkeley. He accompanied her gladly on her journeys to Spas for the purpose of recovering her health, and cherished her with the greatest love to the very end of her life: parted by death, surviving her for nine years, he yearned for her very strongly.
To knowledge of Greek and Latin, Which he had learned partly at St.Paul’s School, partly through study at home, he easily added skill in the French and Italian tongues, living in Paris and Rome. Versed in all kinds of scholarship, he applied his mind especially to the study of Theology. A layman, he shone among clerics in knowledge of Ecclesiastical Antiquities, being equally fortunate in memory and keen Judgment. Having travelled more than once through Europe, he had as a result looked into the differing forms of States and Religions. He saw no reason to prefer the setting up of a republic to the Monarchy as established at home. He considered all other churches inferior to the Anglican Church. He enriched this Church, always dear to him, with his good works: he adorned it with his life: defended it with his written works: a most obedient son himself and above all a strenuous fighter on its behalf. There was no association of good men with whom he did not ally himself willingly, whether to give proper teaching to poor children, using the generosity of the rich, or to increase the general good, or to the glory of God. He expended the greatest part of his time in study and work. Whatever resources remained to him, almost everything in the final reckoning, he used in the same way. Whilst he gave himself single-mindedly to this, that he might please God at the same time, the severe discipline of Christian religion he had adopted for himself he modified to a gentler style for the edification of other men, very unusually. In that, he shone out as a person with honour if any mortal did, and easily aroused the love of all men by his nature and high reputation.
He lived too short a time in the eyes of all good men and the Church, Seized by a fatal asthma he gave his, soul back to God in Kensington, happy in what he had already done in life and full of hope for the future. The remembrance of Nelson will live on while the Christian sacrificial rite is celebrated, a participant at the Holy Supper. As long as solemn feasts and fasts continue to be held, pious men will celebrate the anniversary of Nelson. They will recall him with hymns and prayers, with holy joys and sighs, both his friends and subordinates. Also, in his written works edited after his death, which too will never die. He still lives on, and will live to all eternity a pious, simple, honest, refined man. He will mingle in the company of the noble and wealthy, and will continue to delight and edify them with his sermons full of great piety and learning.
He departed this life, January16th 1714 at the age of 59.
Translated by Grace Dedman for the Friends of St George’s Gardens