From an English surname meaning "son of NEIL
". It was originally given in honour of the British admiral Lord Horatio Nelson (1758-1805). His most famous battle was the Battle of Trafalgar, in which he repulsed the fleet of Napoleon, but was himself killed. Another notable bearer was the South African statesman Nelson Mandela (1918-). Mandela's birth name was Rolihlahla
; as a child he was given the English name Nelson
by a teacher.