The Nelsons of Yorktown were one of the most prestigious and most powerful families of colonial York County. From their position atop the county's complex social hierarchy, they commanded respect and authority. The Nelsons exercised this authority with great effect in the late 1760s and early 1770s when developments in the political and economic structure of the British Empire threatened the power of Virginia's gentry. This paper describes how the Nelsons utilized their position within York County's social hierarchy to motivate a degree of compliance with the Virginia Association not seen in most of Virginia
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