Thomas Charles Mathews

Thomas Charles Mathews (TCM) is an enigmatic figure who appears in very few records. There is the hint of a slim trail he made across southern Virginia and into North Carolina that may in fact be the result of different men leaving disparate records that this researcher has decided to collate under the category of a single individual. That said, the information presented below describes several of these disparate records as if they do refer to a single individual who was the brother of James Mathews Sr. (fortunately most records referred to below do in fact reference him by his complete name). The primary reason for coming to this conclusion is due to the 1688 Charles City County court order that makes reference to two boys "James Mathews and Tho. Charles Mathews".

Records Mentioning Thomas Charles Mathews

The known records that mention TCM can be summarized as thus:

  • He was probably 10 or so by 1688 (per the Charles City County court record).
  • TCM was living in Chowan Precinct, North Carolina by at least 1721 when he purchased 150 acres from John Green along the Morattok [Roanoke] River.19 Later records will show that the land was in what is now Northampton County, NC.
  • His wife was named Margaret Fellows and her sisters and their husbands were John and Sarah Passmore of Surry County, VA, John and Mary Huckaby of Prince George County, and William and Martha Reed of Prince George County. The father of Margaret Fellows was Robert Fellows of Surry County, VA.20 All of these names appear in a single Surry County, VA deed from 1729. In the deed TCM and wife are stated to be living in North Carolina so he is likely the same person in the above bullet point (since both instances use his middle name, a rarity at this point in time).
  • The last record that mentions TCM by his full name is the above 1729 Surry County deed.

There is one additional deed from Bertie County, NC in 1728 that mentions TCM and wife Margaret selling land21, but no additional genealogically valuable data is given aside from what the above bits tell us. Aside from these scant few records there are still a few that mention a Thomas Mathews in Bertie County, NC (formed out of Chowan Precinct) and later Edgecombe County (formed out of Bertie County) and then Northampton County (formed out of Bertie County) that possibly refer to TCM or perhaps a son also named Thomas (and in a few cases they certainly they refer to Thomas who was not TCM):

Partial map of Halifax County showing James Mathews Sr. settlement around Little Fishing Creek to the left and Town of Halifax at far right

  • Although we know TCM owned at least 150 acres (from the above mentioned deed from John Green) he undoubtedly had more as the 1721 deed stated he was "of the Precinct of ____". The Precinct was left blank but "Precinct" was a term used in NC and not Virginia so he was possibly in NC before 1721. A 1732 Edgecombe County deed shows a Thomas Mathews selling 200 acres to Joseph Brewer that was, like the 1721 deed, on the south side of the Roanoke River;22 the 1732 deed further states the land was south of Great Quankey Creek. The 1732 deed also makes mention of other land owned by Thomas Mathews.
  • Starting in 1744 we begin to see Edgecombe County deeds mentioning another Thomas Mathews who was almost certainly the Thomas who was a son of James Mathews Sr. By comparing the deed records it is easy to see that one appears around the Roanoke River in or near the town of Halifax and the other is around Little Fishing Creek, near Medoc Mountain State Park, which is a little north of the southeastern corner of Halifax County (formed out of Edgecombe in 1758).
  • Starting in 1748 in Northampton County we start to see deeds mentioning Thomas Mathews.23 This is possibly the same Thomas (or a son or father) seen in the 1732 Edgecombe County deed, but with land on the north side of the Roanoke. Northampton County was formed out of Bertie County in 1741 and has the Roanoke River as its southern and western borders separating it from Halifax County. The Virginia state line is its northern border. Between 1748 and 1763 there are five deeds that have a Thomas Mathews in them and four mention or imply land on the north side of the Roanoke River. The fifth references Quankey Creek. Several of them mention a Joshua Step and/or William Short (also called "Shorter" in at least one place). I believe it is a good possibility that this Thomas is the son of Thomas Charles Mathews (due to this Thomas being in the same general area as TCM).
  • Joshua Step left a will recorded in 1765 (filed under surname "Stap") in Northampton County in which he names Thomas Mathews as a son-in-law.24 Thomas Mathews in turn left a will recorded in Northampton County in 1770 in which he names wife Martha and sons James, Chilborne [Claiborne] and Lawrence.25 The former will was witnessed by Sarah Ragland and the latter by George Ragland so perhaps this Thomas was a son-in-law of Joshua Step. Since this Thomas's will was recorded in 1770 it would seem unlikely that he is the same person as TCM since TCM would be at least around 90 by this time, not to mention the fact that Thomas mentioned two underaged sons in his will. Not an impossibility, but unlikely. Therefore I believe that this Thomas was at the very least a generation younger than TCM and possibly his son.

So what does all this mean? Unfortunately it doesn't leave us with a whole lot to go on. With James Mathews Sr. when there is an absence of direct evidence there is at least a great deal of indirect evidence to allow us to make some conclusions. With TCM there is little evidence to connect the dots:

  • With the exception of the will of Thomas Mathews in 1770 we have nothing else to imply the names of any other children in this family (such as brothers of this Thomas).
  • Ignoring the possibility that the 1770 Thomas was TCM we have no will for TCM naming any other children yet we find the names of a Joshua Mathews, James Mathews, Moses Mathews and the later Thomas Mathews floating around Northampton County and the town of Halifax in Halifax County with no hint of their connection (if any such exists).
  • Aside from the 1688 Charles City County court record even the possibility of Thomas Charles Mathews and James Mathews Sr. being brothers is called into question when we consider that not a single deed, will or parish record exists where either of them appear in the same record!

As it stands there isn't a lot to connect the Thomas Charles Mathews of North Carolina to the Thomas Charles Mathews of the 1688 Charles City County court order other than the fact that he had a wife who was from Surry County, Virginia and that he had a middle name which was used in official records which was a rather rare practice.

Misc Mathews around the town of Halifax

Deeds and wills from the counties of Bertie (prior to Edgecombe and/or Halifax splitting off), Edgecombe, Halifax and Northampton mention a number of mystery Mathews. These are people like the Thomas Mathews discussed above (whether or not "Thomas" was a single individual or multiple men with the same name) that the records indicate lived near the Roanoke River, Quankey Creek or the town of Halifax or individuals who appear to be associating with some of the same people of this area as Thomas. With the exception of the 1770 will of Thomas Mathews in Northampton county or the 1815 will of Moses Mathews or the 1819 will of the daughter-in-law of Moses we do not know who any of them were related to.

Based on the fact that they all operated out of the same general area it is quite possible that they trace back to Thomas Charles Mathews who I refer to above as TCM. To repeat, it is possible that they trace back to TCM this is far from certain. Due to the fact that none of these individuals appear to interact with the James Mathews Sr. family in the records that are extant ---even though they may share some of the same names as those of the immediate family of James Sr.--- they are most likely not members of the immediate family of James Sr.. Below is a review of those individuals found in deeds and wills with some speculation on their connection to TCM.

In Bertie County in 1749 a James Mathews is a witness to a deed of sale between James and Elizabeth Jameson to David Meade. The land being sold is on the north side of Roanoke River.26 This cannot be the same son James named in the will of Thomas Mathews in 1770 since the later James would have been, at the very least, a young child in 1749.

Between 1732 and 1753 five deeds in Edgecombe County mention Thomas Mathews. It is believed that TCM was older than James Mathews Sr. so it is possible that if TCM had a son named Thomas that any of these deeds could have referred to the son of TCM. All five deeds reference the same general area: the south side of Quankey Creek which was near the town of Halifax.

Two Halifax County deeds from Nov 1763 mention Thomas Mathews owning land on Quankey Creek.27

There are 20 deeds from Halifax County that mention a Moses Mathews between 1777 and 1807. One mentions a Moses Mathews Jr. in 1778. Many of these deeds mention the same people over and over again, one in particular, John Clayton, appears in 7 different deeds. Two of these deeds reference Moses owning land on the road from Halifax to Enfield. This may have been what is now Highway 301 (see Google map above). The later deeds in the span from 1777 to 1807 probably refer to the Moses Mathews who left a Halifax County will in 1815. Since the deeds mention a junior Moses and an elder Moses perhaps the earlier deeds refer to the father of the Moses who died in 1815. The Moses Mathews will mentions a daughter, Judith, who was married to Green Mabry. Researchers of the Mabry/Mayberry/Maybry/etc. family contend that all Mabrys descend from the Francis Mabry who, along with his sons, appear in so many deeds involving the James Mathews Sr. family in Surry and Brunswick counties in Virginia. This observation is merely offered as an interesting aside and nothing is implied here.

In Northampton County we find several Mathews names not found in Halifax County records. In 1748 Joshua Matthews is witness to a land sale from Joshua Step to Thomas Matthews.28 It seems reasonable that this Thomas is the son-in-law named in the will of Joshua Step. Was Joshua Matthews a son or brother of Thomas Matthews?

In 1757 in Northampton County Laurence and Claiborne Mathis were witnesses to a land transaction between Chas Thompson and George Britain.29 Lawrence and Claiborne were probably the two sons of the same name mentioned in the will of Thomas Mathews in 1770. It is believed that these brothers moved to Chatham County, North Carolina by the 1780s as two individuals with those same names appear there after the Revolution. This is the same county were several sons of Thomas Mathis/Mathews Sr. moved beginning in the late 1760s. Chatham County records seem to imply some association with the Charles Mathews family in particular, or at the very least clearly shows association between Lawrence and the Brantley family. Lawrence sold land to Joseph Brantly Jr. in 179530 and the Brantley family was closely allied to the family of Charles Mathews via marriage. The Claiborne of Chatham County died there in late 1806. Two of the sons named in his will had names identical to two of the sons of Charles: Lewis and Britain.31 While "Lewis" can be said to be fairly common, the name "Britain" or "Brittain" is much more uncommon. Was the association with the Brantley family and the naming of Claiborne's son indicative of some familial connection to the extended James Mathews Sr. family?

In 1769 Northampton County deeds record a land sale between James Matthews to John Stokes.32 The deed mentions a creek called Troublefields Run (this creek is spelled many ways in the records) which also appears in some of the Thomas Mathews land records. The will of Thomas Mathews that named an underage son James was written in 1761 so it is possible that this James was a son of Thomas.

Finally, a 1771 deed from Northampton County shows James and Martha Mathes sold 337 acres to William Short.33 The deed states that the 337 acres was part of a 562 acres Granville Grant to Thomas Matthis. Presumably James is the son of Thomas Mathews whose 1770 will mentions his widow Martha and land left to his son James.


Unfortunately there are no firm conclusions that can be drawn from this discussion of Thomas Charles Mathews, the Mathews who appear to have lived in the same area(s) as TCM, nor, most importantly, about whether TCM was in fact the brother of James Mathews Sr. There appears to be enough here to generate sufficient interest from someone at some time in the future to do an exhaustive search of the records of Bertie County and Northampton County in particular to see if further evidence can be found to, at the very least, corral these various Mathews living near Roanoke River and the town of Halifax into a cohesive sub-family grouping. We may never find the evidence that connects TCM and James Mathews Sr. as brothers, but there does appear to be tantalizing innuendo that they may have been brothers. Why is it that Claiborne and Lawrence Mathews interacted with a primary member of the FAN club (Friends, Associates and Neighbors) of Charles Mathews in Chatham County? Why did Claiborne name one of his sons Britain? These are but two questions of several that need to be answered if any serious attempt is to be made to connect TCM to James Sr.