William Nelson attended the College of William & Mary during the Revolutionary War and rose to the rank of second lieutenant in the student militia company in 1777. After a career in public service, including time spent as a reviser of the laws of Virginia and as a judge of the Virginia General Court, Nelson was appointed professor of law and police at the College of William and Mary in 1804. Although little is known about his professorship, after his death in 1813, students and colleagues passed resolutions mourning his passing.
Resolution by William and Mary students in Regard to the Death of William Nelson, Professor of Law
Enquirer, March 19, 1813, at 3