Matthews Surname Genealogy

Matthew was one of Jesus’s disciples and Mattathiah a Hebrew given
name, meaning “gift of the Lord.”  The use of the name was
stimulated in England by Crusaders returning from the Holy Land in the
12th century. Matthews started to appear as a surname in the late 14th
English surname variants are Matthew and Mathews.  In Germany the
name is Mathis, France Matheu, Spain Mateo, Portugal Mateus, and Italy

Matthews Resources on

Matthews Ancestry

Mathew was a popular first name in medieval Wales.  David ap
Mathew was a 15th century Welsh knight, the son of Mathew ap
Evan.  He was said to have been one of the ten great barons of
Glamorgan. His claim to fame was that he saved the life of the English
King Edward IV at the barbaric Battle of Towton in 1461.  For
this he was made the King’s Grand Standard-bearer.  He adopted
Mathew as his hereditary name and, following his murder, was entombed
as Sir David Mathew at Llandaff cathedral.

By the 16th century there were three branches
of the Mathew family
Glamorgan – at Llandaff, Radyr, and Castell y Mynach.  Thomas
Mathews of the Llandaff branch was a British naval officer who rose to
become admiral of the Mediterranean fleet in the 1740’s.  However,
the failure of his command at the Battle of Toulon resulted in his
dismissal from the Navy and he returned to his estates in Llandaff to
lick his wounds.

England.  From the Castell
y Mynach branch came one line of Herefordshire Matthews:

  • Tobie Matthew who was Archbishop of York in 1606
  • and his son Sir Tobie, an English courtier who converted to Roman

From the Radyr line (also Catholic in its inclinations) came another
Herefordshire line:

  • John Matthews, the country squire who was also a physician and
    poet.  He built his home at Belmont on the banks of the
    Wye river
    in 1790
  • and his grandson Henry who was a Conservative politician and Home
    Secretary from 1886 to 1892.

A Matthews family have been dairy farmers in Herefordshire since
1869.   Paul Matthews of Bartonsham Dairies is the fifth
generation of the family to be involved in the dairy business.

By the time of the 1891 census the distribution of the Matthews name
shows that it was clearly a west country name.  But by that time
the Herefordshire Matthews were considerably outnumbered by the
Matthews in the southwest (Devon and Cornwall), the Matthews in
Gloucestershire and the West Midlands, and the Matthews in
Lancashire.  In the 20th century there seem to have been a shift
east in the distribution of the Matthews name.

Charles Mathews, born in London in 1776, begat an acting family which
continued with his son Charles, who achieved success in both France and
America, and he was the stepfather of Willie Mathews, a lawyer who
mixed in court circles and was created a baronet in 1917.

Ireland.  The Mathews name
appeared in Ireland, in greatest numbers in county Louth (including
many in Dundalk).  Tobias Mathew of the Welsh Radyr family was
granted the Thurles estate in Tipperary in the 17th century.  A
descendant, Father
Theobald Mathew
, was an early advocate of
teetotalism.  Some of the Irish McMahons anglicized their names to

.   In America the spelling has been sometimes
Mathews and sometimes Matthews and they have sometimes absorbed
Germanic names
such as Mathis and Matthaus.

There were early
Matthews in Virginia
.  The first Matthews to set foot
in America may well have been Captain
Samuel Mathews of the Virginia Company in 1622, shortly after the
founding of the Jamestown colony.  Thomas Matthews arrived in
Virginia sometime in the 1690’s from Somerset.  His grandson Moses
was the gunsmith who supplied George Washington’s Continental
Army.  He grew wealthy from this enterprise and retired to Wilkes
county, Georgia a very rich man.

Another Mathews also migrated from Virginia to Wilkes county, Georgia
after the Revolutionary War.  This Mathews, George, was the son of
Irish immigrant parents.  He served twice as Governor of Georgia
and at the end of his life led a filibuster expedition to try and
capture Florida for the United States.

Later Irish American Matthews have been Francis Matthews, US Secretary
of the Navy under Truman, and Chris Matthews, a TV news anchor with

Canada.  Early Matthews in
Canada were Loyalists:

  • David Mathews, who had been mayor of New York and fled to Nova
    Scotia where he was unable to find a new role for himself
  • and Thomas Matthews who crossed over to Pickering, Ontario after
    the war.  His son Peter participated in the Upper Canada rebellion
    of 1837 and was afterwards executed by the authorities.

Another American – this time Abner Matthews from New Hampshire –
crossed the border to Burford, Ontario around the year 1800.  His
son Wheeler built up a business supplying barley to Canadian and
American brewers and his son Wilmot had expanded that business by the
early 1900’s into a major Toronto-based industrial and financial

Australia.  Thomas Matthews

was one of the earliest
settlers of the Coromandel valley in South Australia in 1839.

“His house and property there were
called Hurds Hill, after the Hurds Hill in the village of Pitney in
Somerset where the Matthews family came from.  It still stands

Another Thomas Matthews, also from Somerset, had been transported to
Australia as a convict in 1835. After having been granted a conditional
pardon in 1850 he married and settled down in Maitland, NSW.
Meanwhile John and Emma Matthews had left Cornwall on the Bussorah Merchant in 1848 bound for
South Australia.  They raised a family there but John himself died
in Gawler thirteen years later in 1861.

In 1859 Thomas Mathews, an Irish immigrant from Louth, built a pub to
serve the passing trade along the then busy Darling River in NSW.
What started as a pub is now the small town of Louth.  Another
Irishman, John Matthews, founded a jeweller’s shop in Latrobe, Tasmania
in 1872.  The business has now been passed down through five
generations of Matthews.

Matthews Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Matthews Names

Sir David Mathew, murdered in 1484 and buried at Llandaff
cathedral, was the forebear of a number of Matthews families in
Glamorgan and Herefordshire.
Father Theobald Mathews of
Tipperary was an early advocate in the 1840’s of teetotalism.
was the
founder of Bernard Matthews Farms, the British turkey farmers.
Sir Stanley Matthews played
football from 1932 to 1960 and is considered one of the greatest
footballers of his age.
Terry Matthews is a Welsh-born
Canadian high-tech entrepreneur and Wales’s first billionaire.

Select Matthews Today

  • 68,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Kent)
  • 55,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 46,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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