Similar to his brother Thomas, Isaac Mathews Sr. appeared in relatively few records. His name appears in only a few deed records and estate inventory and appraisal records. What is known for certain is that he was one of the sons of James Mathews Sr. The evidence of which is the Jan 1741 deed of gift (see section on James Mathews Sr. in Virginia) recorded in Brunswick County, Virginia: "James Matthis of Edgecombe County, North Carolina to his son Isaac Matthis of St. Andrews Parish Brunswick County..." I assign Isaac as the third son of James Sr., but this assignation could be much debated. On the same date as Isaac's deed of gift James Sr. also gave a similar deed of gift to his son Charles. Though their deeds of gifts were written and recorded on the same days Isaac's deed of gift is recorded before that of Charles perhaps implying that Isaac was older. So, as noted, there's not much to go on here and what little there is is debatable.

The first place we find Isaac Sr. mentioned is a 1735 deed where he was witness to a sale between William and Elizabeth Fletcher to John Smith. English law allowed deeds to be witnessed by minors as young as 14 due to the fact that they could be expected to live longer in case the deed was disputed in subsequent years. So, we can set a maximum date for Isaac's birth at 1717 although I'm sure he was born before this. His son Isaac Jr. had a child born in 1760. Isaac Jr. wasn't even the oldest child of Isaac Sr. so working backwards it is reasonable to assume that Isaac Sr., at the very latest was born a few years prior to 1717. A date range of 1711 to 1715 would probably be acceptable.

In Virginia Isaac Sr. only had the single piece of land given to him by his father via deed of gift as noted above. The 1741 deed gave Isaac 200 acres which was part of his father's 1728 patent for 950 acres. The patent lay in the far western side of modern day Brunswick County very near the current border with Lunenburg County. It was bordered on the north by the Nottoway River, Rocky Run on the east and just beyond Wildcat Creek to the west.

Brunswick County 950 acre land patent to James Mathews Sr.

Currently this land patented by James Mathews Sr. lies within Fort Pickett which is controlled by the Virginia National Guard, some public access is allowed. The entire patent was portioned off to Isaac Sr., Charles, their younger brother Matthew, John Morton and Griffen Humphries (the latter two men were possibly sons-in-law of James Sr.). The exact location of each portion is not known due to the landmarks referenced (trees, rocks and unnamed streams). By 1746 Isaac had decided to follow most of the rest of his family and move to North Carolina. In 1753 he sold the 200 acres that his father had given him to his brother Charles.95

Isaac Sr. moved to North Carolina shortly after his father and brothers James Jr. and Thomas. On 14 Feb 1746 "Thomas Matthis" sold to "Isaac Matthis of Brunswick County Virginia" 320 acres either on or close by Conoway Creek (now called Little Fishing Creek) which was where his brothers and father lived.96 He next obtained an unspecified amount of land from John Broom (or Brown) 29 Jan 1754.97 This was followed by a 360 acre Granville Grant 11 Nov 175598 in the same general area as his other land, and finally he acquired a small 4 acre plot (year unknown, but recorded in 1761)99 from John Broom (or Brown) also in the same general area as the other lands. Due to the small size of this acquisition it could be speculated that the land was obtained for a grist mill or something of that nature.

None of the maiden names of the wives of any of the children of James Mathews Sr. are given to us directly (not counting the second wife of Charles Mathews as we will see in his section). We can speculate all we want, but the fact of the matter is there is no known document that directly specifies who they were. Given that my direct ancestry runs through Isaac Mathews Sr. I've put a bit more effort into trying to determine who his wife was. The only thing that we know for certain is that her first name was Mary which is given in Isaac's will. To be honest we cannot even determine if she was his first wife or the mother of any or all of his children since her name is revealed so late.

In any event, the discussion that follows goes forward with the supposition that Mary was the only wife that Isaac ever had. Even if he had more than one the argument here does not rest on who she was specifically, but rather on who the mother of his children was, most notably his sons Peter, Repps, Robert and Samuel. The name Repps has been of interest to me for some time due to its unusualness. Some internet digging reveals a couple of things. First, the name is extremely rare and as far as I can tell only two other individuals who were contemporary with Isaac Sr. in southern Virginia carried the name: Repps Jones and Repps Osborne. Second, there is a village in the county of Norfolk in England named Repps which is most likely the origin of the name, but originally in the form of a surname, not a given name. Since there were actually several men named Repps Jones from the 1600s into the 1800s the name obviously meant something to the Jones family. Tracing the line of Repps Jones backwards it was discovered that a Thomas Jones had married a Mary Repps and one of their sons was named Repps Jones.100 This first Repps was born about 1664 and ever since this first Repps there have been several men given the name Repps Jones in the extended family of that particular Jones line. Note that Repps Osborne was a great grandson of Mary Repps, hence of a grand-nephew of the first Repps Jones, therefore both of the two earliest men named Repps in this area were part of the Jones family. Perhaps Repps Mathews was named for someone in his mother's family? Perhaps she was a Jones?

The Repps Jones who was contemporary with Isaac owned land not that far away from the 950 acre patent that James Mathews Sr. split up amongst his sons Isaac, Charles and Matthew in the 1740s. Maybe Isaac was good friends with Repps Jones? Let's take a look at another interesting Jones-Mathews observation. There's an unusual first-middle-last name combination that is quite common to the line of both Isaac and his brother Charles (more notably in the line of Charles than Isaac): Sugar Jones Mathews. The first Mathews with that name was apparently named after an individual named Sugar Jones who lived first in Virginia and later in Granville County, North Carolina. Sugar Jones was in Granville County by at least the 1750s101 and lived relatively close to the Mathews family who were on the western side of what would become Halifax County. Sugar Jones was a militia leader in the 1750s although I cannot find where any Mathews served under him.102 Aside from this I cannot determine what the connection between Sugar Jones and the Mathews family was. I do find it of interest that Sugar Jones had a son named Drury and this was one of the most common names in the line of Charles Mathews. It seems as if every generation of the descendants of Charles had a Drury in each family group well into the 1800s. Isaac had a few Drurys amongst his descendants, but nowhere near the number that Charles had. Interestingly the name Drury does not appear at all in the lines of James Jr. or Thomas. Note that no relationship is known between Sugar Jones and the Jones family that Repps Jones was part of.

Isaac had a couple of other interestingly named sons: Peter and Robert. The name Peter does not appear many times and apparently not ever amongst the lines of Isaac's brothers. Robert is a little more common than Peter as a first name, but doesn't really appear again until at least a generation or two after Isaac's son. The name of his son Samuel is moderately unusual; we have to look into the line of one of Charles's daughters, Lucretia, to find it with any frequency (although in her case the name can be attributed as an honorific for her husband's father who had the name Samuel).

So, we have two curious ties to the Jones family and names being given to sons that aren't commonly found elsewhere in the extended Mathews family. The problem with trying to link the wife of Isaac Sr. to the Jones family is that the surname is so common that even Jones researchers have problems making heads or tails of Jones inter-family relationships. Rather than getting sidetracked I will simply point out that in addition to Repps Jones there were men named Peter Jones, Robert Jones and Samuel Jones active in Brunswick County, Virginia deed records throughout the middle 1700s. Also, one Repps Jones had brothers named Robert and Samuel, born about 1720 and about 1722 respectively.

While there is apparently no sister named Mary in this bunch I find the whole Jones connection a compelling lead for who the mother of Isaac's children might have been. While Mary may not have been part of this particular Jones branch perhaps she was some other close relative. It is for this reason I speculate that the wife of Isaac Mathews Sr. may have been a Mary Jones. Much research still needs to be done in this area.

Isaac Sr's family is revealed in his will written 27 Jul 1767 and recorded in Halifax County, NC with the August court of 1768.103 The will is the first place we find the name of his wife, Mary, and several of his children. In the will several sons are given specific items and/or land and possibly indicates they were the youngest children: Robert, Samuel and Peter. Of Isaac's 10 children 9 of them are named in the following order which I believe is likely their birth order: Thomas, Jean, Isaac, Reaps [Repps], Mary, Sarah, Robert, Peter and Samuel. The tenth child, daughter Susanna Humphri[e]s is named separate from the others so her position in the birth order is unknown.