Edward Nelson was born in 1874, in Demerara.

Nelson’s father, Philip Nelson, is recorded in the Biographical Registers of the College as being a builder in Demarara. Nelson was educated at St. Philips School, Demerara, British Guyana and matriculated at St. John’s college in 1898.  He read Jurisprudence, receiving a 3rd, and was granted his BA degree in 1901. Nelson was called to the Bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1904, and settled in Hale, Manchester, as a prominent practicing Barrister.  Nelson was an exact contemporary of Abdul Rasul, but seems to have matriculated (first formally entered the university) at a later age than Rasul. In Nelson’s case, unlike in Rasul’s, we are fortunate to possess photographic records and have included one here.

Nelson was a keen sportsman and cricketer and was in the first XI in 1900. He appears too, in the posed group photographs taken of the whole college each year in Michaelmas term. Nelson had a significant and sensational legal career, being involved in two murder cases where he successfully defended the accused (both cases pertained to the same murder!). He also defended a group of men of African origin who were charged after being caught up in racist violence incited by disaffected white workers; Nelson was successful in having several - though not all – of the men cleared of wrongdoing. One amongst a tiny proportion of non-white people living in the area at the time, Nelson was evidently an integral, member of the community in Hale, well-regarded and widely liked. Nelson remained in England throughout the rest of his life and never returned to Guyana. He is one of the few members of the College’s colonial students from this early period to have an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, where more on his remarkable life and career may be found.[i] 

[i] https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/57262

Edward Theophilius Nelson