Select 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 century. 

English surname variants are Matthew and Mathews.  In Germany the name is Mathis, France Matheu, Spain Mateo, Portugal Mateus, and Italy Matteo.

Select Matthews Resources on The Internet

Select Matthews Ancestry

Wales.  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 in 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 Catholicism. 
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 Mathews.   

.   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 NBC.

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 empire.

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 today."

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. 

Select Matthews Miscellany

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

Select 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.
Bernard Matthews 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)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page