From the deed books of Brunswick County, Virginia we know that James Mathews Sr. had four sons named James Jr.,60 Isaac,61 Charles62 and Matthew.63 His will, recorded in Halifax County, North Carolina in March 1762, gives us the name of a fifth son, Thomas.64 His will also indirectly tells us that he had more than one daughter living at the time the will was written: "...40 pounds Virginia Money to be equally divided amongst the remainder of [Thomas's] brothers and sisters." Beyond this we know nothing concrete of the daughters of James, although as will be shown below we may be able to make an educated guess at the names of two of them. Aside from these five sons of James named above we cannot know for certain if he had any other sons, however I believe that it is possible (admittedly this is highly speculative) that he had another son named John.

From their wills we know to within a few months when sons James Jr., Thomas, Isaac and Charles died, but no records found to date gives us their dates of birth. There are administration papers from Lunenburg County, VA from 1784 for a Matthew Matthis65 that may be for James's son by that name, however, as we will later see in the section on Matthew, other factors make this supposition a bit uncertain. The wills for James Jr., Thomas, Isaac and Charles give us the names of some of their children while other records can be used to reconstruct further details of their lives.

To recap, below are the confirmed children of James Sr. (links below go to complete descriptions of the lives of each):

James Mathews Jr.
Thomas Mathews (Mathis)
Isaac Mathews Sr.
Charles Mathews

Matthew Mathews

In addition to the above sons we can perhaps speculate on the identities of a few other children. I emphasize the word perhaps and it is impossible to emphasize that strongly enough. The following has never been printed in a public forum as far as I am aware. The speculative nature of this information is so strong that even I do not have the following in my database. It would be extremely foolish for anyone to assume that there is ample evidence to entertain the inclusion of any of these names in a family tree for James Mathews Sr. Having said that I have no doubt that someone is going to take the names, add them to a database and one day I'll find them on an or family tree. Shame on anyone who does so. I have debated making this information public for several years, that is how strong my reluctance has been to adding to any further misinformation there already is on internet for serious genealogists. Still, I do not think that I can personally take the investigation of these names any further without enlisting the public in adding input to the ideas posited below, either for or against.

Unlike the five sons shown above there are no records left to us that gives us the names of any daughters or James Mathews Sr. although his will informs us that he had more than one living at the time his will was written. It was only through an exhaustive investigation of all extant original records that mention James Sr. that I noticed four records that might point to who at least four daughters were. All four of these records are deeds, two in Brunswick County, Virginia (to Griffen Humphries and John Morton) and two in Edgecombe County, North Carolina (to William Phillips and Edward Collins). Both of the Brunswick County deeds were pieces of James's 935 acre patent in the western part of the county just south of the Nottoway River while the Edgecombe County deeds were part of his grants there along Little Fishing Creek. For one of the Brunswick deeds and both of the Edgecombe deeds James gave the property away with no notation on the former and for "good causes and considerations" on the latter two. The fourth deed, one of the two in Brunswick County, was sold for 30 pounds.

As will be shown in the sections covering James's sons he distributed much of the 935 acre patent to sons Isaac, Charles and Matthew via deeds of gift. The remaining portion after these three deeds of gift was 300 acres. I cannot imagine why he would not have just given them each another 100 acres. Based on the fact that Griffen Humphries and John Morton received land right in the middle of his sons suggests to me that they may have been related to James in some way, ie. they may have married two of his daughters.

In North Carolina James Sr., as best as can be determined, obtained only two pieces of property (possibly three, it's really difficult to distinguish when only "James Mathews" is given for the grantor). As discussed in the section on James Sr. in North Carolina, the first was a Royal grant for 400 acres in 1742 and the second was a Granville grant for 437 acres in 1749. Two 1752 Edgecombe County deeds record James Sr. giving away parts of his 437 acre grant "for good causes and considerations" to two men: 150 acres to William Phillips66 on Feb 10 and 50 acres to Edward Collins67 on Feb 11 (the day following the first deed). Any time we find someone giving away piece of property for "good causes and considerations" or "love and affection" or any similar wording there is the suggestion that there is a familial connection even if one is not stated in the deed.

Griffen Humphries -- Griffen's first and last name are found spelled several different ways, most notably Griffen/Griffin for his first name and Humphries/Humphreys/Humphris for his last although other variations are known. A few other Humphries are found in Brunswick County records (a John and Robert for example) although what Griffen's relationship to them may have been is unknown. Outside of the deed books I've only found Griffen Humphries' name in one place in Brunswick County. In the extant Brunswick County Road Orders he was listed as part of a gang of men headed up by James Mathews Sr. to survey and clear a new road that would cross Wild Cat Creek;68 the creek ran through part of James Sr's 935 acre patent. This entry was dated 3 Nov 1737. The gangs of men that created, cleared and maintained roads lived or owned land near the areas where these roads were so we know that Griffen was living near if not already on James Sr's 935 acre patent several years before receiving land from James. Further to this we know that Griffen was already living on the parcel that James Sr. deeded to him since it is mentioned in the deed, the question is how long had Griffen been living there.

On 2 Sept 1741 James Sr. deeded 100 acres to Griffen.69 It is entirely possible that James actually sold this land to Griffen which would negate the idea that the transfer was a gift. The deed does not show a price for the property so we really cannot tell. On 4 Jun 1750 Griffen sold this property and the deed notes that Sarah, wife of Griffen, released her right of dower. Was Sarah a daughter of James Sr? It should be noted that when Griffen sold the 100 acres the deed stated that the property was part of a patent to James Matthis and sold to "Griffin Humphris". So, perhaps James did indeed sell the land to Griffen. At any rate it is still interesting to me at least that James Sr. sold/gave a relatively small parcel to Griffen when he could just as easily given it to one of his sons. An alternate theory to explain this situation is that maybe Griffen was an overseer or caretaker on the property and James Sr. felt some obligation to Griffen for several years of service so he sold him the property before leaving for North Carolina. Since Griffen was already living there by the time James gave/sold him the parcel this is certainly a possibility.

After selling his 100 acres in 1750 Griffen disappears from Brunswick County. shows a Griffen Humphrays listed in an early census index for 1755 in Orange County, North Carolina.70 While this Griffen's exact location in Orange County is unknown it is possible that this is the Brunswick County Griffen as Orange County would later be split up into several counties including Chatham County in which we later find several former Brunswick County residents who lived near the James Mathews Sr. 935 acre patent including John Morton as we will see below. In addition, the name "Griffen Humphries" is a little out of the ordinary so there seems a reasonable possibility that the Orange County Griffen was the same as found in Brunswick County, Virginia.

John Morton -- In Dec 1741, a few months after Griffen Humphries received his 100 acres from James Sr., John Morton received 200 acres from James Sr.71 Similar to Griffen already living on the property when he received his John Morton's deed also mentions that he was already living on the 200 acres he received. A difference here is that we know that Morton definitely had to pay for his parcel, costing him 30 pounds.

John Morton's name appears in several Brunswick County deeds, far too many to go over in detail here. One interesting bit that we can tell from them is that he apparently had close ties to the Gunter family; various Mathews or others related by marriage would be witnesses to several of his transactions; and, by 1771 he had already sold his land in Brunswick County.

Around this same time we find deed records from Chatham County, North Carolina with a John Morton and John and Richard Gunter on them which show that John Morton and the Gunters had moved to North Carolina. I had once come across a deed from Chatham County that lead me to believe that John Morton's wife was named Susannah. As of the writing of this web page I can no longer locate that deed. Nevertheless, until I can find proof to the contrary, I believe that John Morton's wife was named Susannah and it was this Susannah that I posit may have been a daughter of James Mathews Sr. To be clear, there were two John Mortons in Chatham County at this time, one likely the son of the other. The deed records make it clear that the younger Morton was married to a Ruth. I have seen some researchers mix up these two John Mortons in terms of which was married to Ruth.

William Phillips -- Less is known about William Phillips than either Griffen Humphries or John Morton above. Researchers who specialize in the Phillips families of this part of North Carolina have been consulted and none of them can identify this William Phillips. The Edgecombe and Halifax County deed books only tell us a few things regarding his association with the Mathews family. His association begins with a 10 Feb 1752 deed for 150 acres given to William by James Matthis Sr. "for good causes and considerations". Whenever we see descriptions such as this there is a strong suggestion of some sort of familial relationship between the grantor and grantee even if one is not stated. What the relationship between William Phillips and James Mathews Sr. might have been is unknown at this time. One interesting observation that might shed some light is that one of witnesses of James Sr's will was Rachel Phillips. Normally wills are witnessed by either family members or long-time neighbors for which lasting friendships have been developed. Prior to William Phillips receiving land from James none of the deeds from Virginia or North Carolina suggest that any Phillips were long time neighbors let alone family members. Further, prior to William Phillips there is only one other Phillips found in ANY deed that mentions any of our Mathews. Therefore, due to William Phillips seemingly appearing out of nowhere at the time that James Sr. gives him 150 acres and with no known chain of any associated events between any Mathews or any Phillips prior to this 1752 deed I am at a loss as to how to explain the circumstances of the deed or of Rachel Phillips being a witness to James Sr's other than to propose that Rachel may have been either a daughter or granddaughter of James Sr.

William Phillips continued to live in the general area of the Mathews families in Halifax County at least through the 1770s according to the deed records. By the 1770s a William Phillips is in the deed books with a wife named Priscilla. Whether or not this is the same William Phillips who received land from James Sr., or whether William was even married to Rachel Phillips, or whether Priscilla married William Phillips after Rachel died (assuming Rachel was married to him in the first place) is unknown.

Edward Collins -- A little less is known about Edward Collins than William Phillips above. Edward, like William Phillips, received a piece of land from James Matthis Sr., but a day later than William and for only 50 acres; yet, Edward, like William Phillips, also received his land "for good causes and considerations". Aside from Rachel Phillips mentioned above, the other two witnesses to the will of James Mathews Sr. were Edward Collins Jr. and Edward Collins Sr. Which of the two was the recipient of the 50 acres is unknown.

No records that I have found reveal the name of the wife of Edward Collins. Still, the possibility remains that his wife, whoever she was, was related to James Mathews Sr.

Closing out the discussion of the possible children of James Mathews Sr. is the entry for a John Mathews who appears briefly in the Brunswick County, Virginia records as well as a few other places. Throughout all of the locations where the descendants of James Mathews settled from the early 1700s to the early 1800s there were several men who shared two names that stick out as being very difficult to identify due to the lack of detailed records they left behind: John and William Mathews (not necessarily related and not necessarily related the James Mathews Sr family at-large). There were several men with each of these names and we find them in Virginia, primarily in Brunswick and Lunenburg Counties, in North Carolina in Halifax and Edgecombe Counties, in Edgefield County, South Carolina, and in various counties in Georgia. Over the past few years enough research has been done to slowly peel away the layers of records to fairly conclusively distinguish the various Johns and Williams found in Virginia however more work still needs to be done to separate and conclusively identify each of the Johns and Williams found in the other places (although outside of Virginia and North Carolina we are mostly faced with identifying various Williams and don't have to worry so much about the Johns).

In Brunswick County, Virginia in particular there were at least two different men named John Mathews (possibly a third and fourth as well), one of whom was possibly a son of James Mathews Sr. and the other an unrelated John (proven through yDNA testing) who would marry one of James Sr's granddaughters. The first John first appears in the Brunswick County deed books in 1733 when John Brooks and his wife sell 90 acres to John Pollard.72 The three witnesses to this deed were James Mathis Jr., John Mathis, and Charles Mathis. There were no other men named James Mathews Jr. or Charles Mathews living in Brunswick County that are known besides the two who were sons of James Mathews Sr. So, who was this John Mathews? If, like me, you suppose that he might have been a brother of James Jr. and Charles then the following deed is all the more interesting. Two years later James Mathews Sr. sold the 350 acres that he received via patent in 1722 to John Brown of James City County.73 This deed makes note that the land is "...where John Mathews lived...". I firmly believe that the John Mathews who later married one of James Sr's granddaughters is not this John referred to in the 1735 deed. That later John really only becomes active in the deed records in the late 1760s and for him to be the same as the one from the 1733 and 1735 deeds would most likely mean that he was possibly 30 or 40 years older than James Sr's grand daughter (not unheard of, but slightly on the unusual side).

Of note also is the fact that James Mathews Sr's 350 acre patent was adjacent to his 380 acre patent received in 1724 and he gave that patent to his son James Jr. in 1735. I firmly believe that the best explanation for the earlier John is that he was James Mathews Sr's son, he was living on the 350 acre patent and for whatever reason he was not living on it in 1735 and his father sold it. Maybe John died? Possibly, but I don't think so. Recall from the discussion of Griffen Humphries above the Brunswick County Road Order record from 1737. Also listed in that record as part of James Mathews Sr's gang were James Matthews Jr., Isaac Matthews, John Matthews and Charles Matthews. So, apparently John was still alive as of 1737 at any rate. To be clear, there are other alternate theories that can be supposed for this early John, but in my opinion the idea that he was a son of James Sr. is the most plausible. This theory would also help explain the number of "mystery Mathews" that appear in later years in North Carolina and Georgia especially. These mystery men cannot be attributed to any known part of the at-large family and it seems unlikely that all of them are unrelated given how they appear in the records. Having another line of descent from James Sr. via John would go far in explaining where the mystery Mathews originated.

After the 1737 road orders record we cannot conclusively say that any future John Mathews found in Brunswick County deed records refer to the speculative John Mathews, son of James Sr. In fact I'm fairly certain that many of the Johns mentioned later refer to the man who married James Sr's granddaughter although a few of the deeds are vague enough in their description that it is really anyone's guess. A number of others likely refer to a John Mathews (and possibly his son of the same name) who lived on Great Creek which was on the border of Brunswick and Lunenburg Counties. It is quite possible that the theoretical John son of James Sr. was in fact the John who lived on Great Creek although this is far from certain.

Regardless of whether or not the speculative John Mathews son of James Sr. appears in any future Virginia records there is still one who appears in Edgecombe County records as well as records of the Granville grants who may be the John from the early Brunswick County records. The first of these records is a Feb 1753 Granville grant in which James Matthias (likely "Matthis") receives 240 acres on the south side of Conoway Creek (later called Little Fishing Creek) which is exactly where James Mathews Sr and his sons settled.74 For the grant the sworn chain carriers were John Matthis and Isham Matthis (I have no idea who this Isham was, perhaps John's son?). The next record is for an Apr 1753 deed between Charles Matthis to James Matthis selling 100 acres (also on Conoway Creek).75 The witnesses to this deed were John Matthis and Isham Matthis. The final record is a Feb 1754 deed where James Matthis Sr. sold James Matthis miner [sic] 137 acres and the witnesses were James Matthis Jr., John Matthis and Isham Matthis.76

After 1754 there are no further records that include John Mathews (or Isham either) found in North Carolina that we can even reasonably believe refer to the same John Mathews as any of the above records. In fact, it isn't until 1781 that another John Mathews appears in the Halifax County, North Carolina records and this John is the son of James Mathews III.

It is interesting that around 1753 or 1754 that James Sr's son Charles decides, for whatever reason, that he has had enough of North Carolina and returns to Virginia so perhaps John returned with him.