Mark Neilson (circa 1858-1923) emigrated from Denmark to Victoria, via England, in 1880. A carpenter by trade, family lore states that Mark owned a lot of real estate in the late 19th century, sometimes receiving land in lieu of payment for his services.

Mark Neilson was born in about 1858 on the island of Rømø, Denmark, to Andres Neilson, blacksmith, and Marion Simonsen. 'M Neilson' boarded the Angerona in Liverpool as an unassisted migrant, arriving at Melbourne on September 25, 1880. It appears that post-migration, Mark decided to go by the name of 'Nelson'.

On July 20, 1886, at 2.45pm, Mark Nelson, carpenter of Williamstown, sold a piece of land near the intersection of Princes and Queen Streets, Williamstown to Robert Willian for £250. Mark Nelson had acquired the property from Edward Quigley sometime prior.

In May 1889 Mark Nelson married Janet (sometimes Jeanette) Arnott (born Williamstown, daughter of John Arnott, chief gardener at what is now the Williamstown Botanic Gardens). They had at least 7 children. The family appears to have left Williamstown around 1893, and lived variously in Preston, Northcote and Melbourne, before settling in Footscray by 1903, living Percy Street, Alexander Street and finally Charles Street, where Mark died in 1923. Janet survived Mark for 11 years; she died in Footscray in 1934.

Nelson family lore states that Mark owned a lot of real estate in the late 19th century, including land along the Maribyrnong River, as well as land where the Highpoint Shopping Centre now stands. Mark was also sometimes given land in return for work. Edward Quigley, (from whom Mark Nelson originally acquired the Princes Street property) was a well-known publican in the Williamstown area, responsible for the construction of many hotels. Mark Nelson may have worked for Quigley; perhaps this is how he acquired the Princes Street property.

Mark's father was a blacksmith and his eldest son Alexander was an engineer. It is possible that the Nelsons knew the Robert Willian or the Willian family through Williamstown's blacksmith/engineering community.

Australian Electoral Commission, Australian Electoral Rolls.
Births, Deaths & Marriages Victoria.
Evans WE 1969, Port of Many Prows, Melbourne, The Hawthorn Press, p. 69.
Public Record Office of Victoria, Index to Unassisted Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923.
Semple, L 2012, Personal Communication.
The Williamstown Chronicle.

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