The earliest reference to a James Mathews that appears to reference our James Mathews Sr. occurs in a 1688 court record from Charles City County, VA:

At a Court Holden at Westover 4th June 1688: With consent of Richard Mane [sp?] and his wife, her two sons James Mathews and Tho. Charles Mathews are bound to ISAAC COLESON, the oldes [sic] until 19 & youngest until 20, to learn the trade of carpenter and at expiration of their time, he is to give them each a cow and calf, etc. If Mane dies before they complete their training he will give them each a set of carpenter's tools.34

Thomas Charles Mathews is covered in this section.

From the above court order there are a few things that can be established. First, it is obvious that James's father was dead by 1688 (ignoring the implausible idea that he divorced James' mother). Recall from the previous section that we only find the James Mathews who I suggest as a possible father of James Mathews Sr. in the Surry County tithables up to 1680. Surry County adjoined Charles City County so it is entirely possible that if the earlier James Mathews lived very near the border separating these two counties that he could have moved into Charles City County after 1680. If this happened we'll probably never know because of the dearth of Charles City County records. On the other hand the earlier James Mathews could have died shortly after the 1680 tithable list. If that is the case then his two sons would have already been born and his wife would have remarried shortly thereafter, possibly moving to nearby Charles City County.

In any event, no matter what ideas might be entertained about the father of James Mathews Sr. he was almost certainly dead and the welfare of his two sons passed into the hands of Thomas Mane and Isaac Coleson by 1688.

Richard Mann, Step-father of James Matthews?

The next thing we can establish from the court order is that the mother of James Mathews Sr. had remarried by 1688 to a man named Richard "Mane". The abstractor of the court orders of Charles City County believes that "Mane" was the spelling of the surname, however it might have been "Mann". Searching through the records from the late 1600s none have yet been found in which there is a surname "Mane" in either Charles City County or Surry County. Given that there were no spelling rules at this time and many people spelled things phonetically it should not be surprising to find that there was no one named "Mane" or even that "Mane" was phonetically, or even erroneously, the result of the clerk attempt to write "Mann". Whatever the case, "Mann" may be a better possibility than Mane. The Mann family has been found in several places that the Mathews family would live including Surry and Brunswick Counties in Virginia and Edgecombe, Northampton and Chatham Counties in North Carolina. Chatham County is the only county in which a Mann family is found living next door to a Mathews family.35 Granted, this happens nearly 100 years after the 1688 Charles City County court order, but families did tend to migrate together. All in all, any Mann family and Mathews family relationship needs a good deal more research before any particular conclusions can be drawn.

Connection to Coleson Family

Another thing seen from the court order is that both James Mathews Sr. and his brother Thomas Charles Mathews are apprenticed to Isaac Coleson to be carpenters. Unfortunately it doesn't appear that Isaac Coleson had very much time to train them as he had died by the end of 1688.36 Possibly one of Isaac's sons took over the apprenticeship of the two boys. Aside from a few Google searches not much time has been spent studying the Colson/Coleson family. A few items of possible interest, however, have turned up in those searches. First, there is speculation among Colson researchers that Isaac Colson emigrated to Virginia along with two brothers, one of whom may have been a John Colson who was the father of Jacob Colson.37 Jacob Colson is noted in deed records as being a carpenter (the same profession as Isaac Colson). Secondly, Jacob Colson had moved to an area of Chowan Precinct, North Carolina by 172138 that would, after a couple of county realignments, later become Northampton County, North Carolina. Thomas Charles Mathews also moved to Chowan Precinct in 1721 in the same general area as Jacob Colson. No conclusions are necessarily drawn from this point, it is simply noted as being of possible interest. Third, Thomas Charles Mathews purchased his land in North Carolina from a John Green who was the father of Robert Green who also lived in the area. Robert Green owned a parcel of land with Jacob Colson in Chowan Precinct and after the death of Jacob, Robert Green purchased some land back from Jacob's widow. While they may have lived in North Carolina John and Robert Green retained land in Surry County, Virginia as well nearby the Nottoway River. Just to the north of the Nottoway River James Mathews Sr. was a very near neighbor of Lewis Green Jr. Any relationship between Lewis Green Jr. and John and Robert Green is unknown at this time.

The above points are viewed as a disjointed collection of somewhat interesting facts. No conclusions are necessarily drawn from them collectively as not enough research has been done on either the Colson or Green families to say whether or not any of this means anything vis-á-vis James Mathews Sr. and his brother Thomas Charles Mathews. In an effort to present as much of current research as possible on this site the information above is included for consideration.

James Mathews, Carpenter

By today's standards one may believe that a "carpenter" was a mundane trade. The fact of the matter is that carpenters in the colonial period were highly valued members of the community. Many were deemed artisans and could be considered moderately wealthy. I have often wondered how the man theorized to be the father of James Mathews Sr. could have started out as a servant and yet so many of James Mathews Sr.'s children and grandchildren were attorney's, judges, and ranking officers of militia. Where did the money come from? Given that so many Mathews' from the earlier generations were fairly large land holders and lived in the neighborhoods of prominent members of local society I conclude that James and his brother were fortunate enough to be apprenticed to a true artisan and thus were able to use their trade skills to become "self-made men". Either that or he married money.

Other Early James Mathews Records

We have to jump ahead a few years to find the next reference to James Mathews Sr. A 1701/2 militia roll for Charles City County lists James Mathews as a private.39 Among the names of the officers and privates in this company are found several surnames that lived around James in Surry and Brunswick once we later start finding his name in the deed records in 1708. The most conspicuous of these names is Francis Mabery (also spelled Maybury, Mabry, Maberry, etc.) who, along with his sons, were prominent in deed records as neighbors of James Mathews all the way up to the 1740s.

A second early record for James Mathews Sr. is the 1704 Prince George County quit rent roll where James is shown with 100 acres.40 Again, Francis Mabry is found in the same record as James Sr. Although it is quite possible that James was living beside Francis Mabry as early as 1704 we should not assume that this is the case even though their names are next to each other on the list since the list is in near alphabetical order.

How did James acquire the 100 acres of land that he is shown with in 1704? The records of Surry County offer a clue in an indirect reference found in a 1706 land sale between Thomas Thrower and his wife Mary of Surry County to Lewis Green of Prince George County. That deed makes an off hand reference to 100 acres of land sold to James Mathews. That deed, taken in conjunction with a 1708 deed where James and his wife Jane sell 100 acres that was apparently part of a tract of land set out for William Cobbett by Thomas Busby (a relative or in-law of Thomas Thrower), seems to indicate that the land first belonged to Thomas Thrower. No other details are forthcoming. The deed was probably recorded in Prince George County which means we may never be able to determine when James first acquired it due to the loss of Prince George County records from this time period.