George Nelson

Carpenter, Builder

Terms served on Council

Title Council From To
Alderman Newtown 1886 1888
  • Jubilee souvenir of the municipality of Newtown, 1862-1912 (City of Sydney Archives LIB-00017635)

Family background

George Nelson was born on 4 January 1838 at Sworfham, Norfolk (England).  He lived many years in Sheffield (England), before migrating to Brisbane in 1863. Moving to Sydney in 1867, he lived at Gordon Cottage, Marian Street, Enmore. A daughter named Annie Elizabeth was born in 1874. His daughter Clara and 49-year-old wife Ann died at Marian Street in January 1884, within a day of each other.

In 1885, Nelson married Annie Louisa Johnston, who was originally from Melbourne. After the birth of two sons, George (1886) and Edgar (1888), the family moved to Queensland in 1889. They lived at Enoggera from the 1890s. George Nelson died on 12 July 1913 at Manly, Queensland, aged 75, survived by his second wife and children. He was buried at Brisbane General (Toowong) Cemetery.

Occupation & interests

George Nelson trained and worked as a cabinet maker in Sheffield (England) and after leaving England, he worked as a carpenter in Brisbane from 1863. Living in Newtown from 1867, he became a builder and developer. After his return to Queensland in 1889, his trade was affected by the depression of the early 1890s and he turned to market gardening at Enoggera, making a comfortable living with it.

Community activity

At the age of 20, George Nelson was a Wesleyan preacher and an associate of General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. In Newtown, he was secretary of the Ratepayers’ Association and chaired the Local Option League, a temperance lobby group, in 1885.

Parliamentary service

In 1893, George Nelson and J. McNab unsuccessfully contested the Labor candidacy for the Queensland seat of Toowong against Matthew Reid who was elected to the Queensland Legislative Assembly that year.

Local government service

After unsuccessfully standing for election in 1877, George Nelson joined Newtown Council in July 1886, representing Enmore Ward. He requested three months leave of absence in October 1888, in order to leave New South Wales, and tendered his resignation in December 1888.

He became a Labor pioneer in Queensland after his return from Sydney and became the first president of the Central Political Executive of the Queensland Labor Party.


Biographical information for this alderman was originally researched by Mark Matheson for the Newtown Project Website. Additional research was carried out by Dr Martina Muller in 2022.

‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 February 1885, p. 1

‘Family Notices’, The Age, 7 March 1885, 5,

‘Local Option at Newtown’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 September 1885, 10,

‘Aldermanic Vacancy’, Evening News, 11 December 1888, 3,

‘The General Election’, The Brisbane Courier, 18 April 1893, 6,

‘A Labor Pioneer’, Daily Standard, 19 July 1913, 15,


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