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Abstract of 1913 Letter from Lavens Mathewson to W. Mathewson

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1913 [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
Surname/tag: Mathewson
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Excerpted from "A Mathewson Story". Bill Mathewson. 2010. unpublished in September 2020 by Stuart McCormick.

Abstract from letter of Lavens Mathewson (great grandson of James Mathewson Senior) of Helen's Bay, County Down, Ireland dated January 9th. 1913 to W.D. Mathewson, Montreal [N.B. Bill very likely has a typo in his manuscript and means William Black Mathewson or "W.B. Mathewson", son of James Adams Mathewson.

"Your Great Grandfather (and mine also) was James Mathewson of Ardstraw (not far from N. Stewart). He and some brothers went there from some part of Scotland; some say Ayrshire and others say Lewis. I do not know what became of the brothers - but James settled down in Ardstraw and married twice, having large families by each marriage. You and I and our respective families are the result of the second marriage but the real heads of the clan are now the male descendants of Samuel M. of Lennoxville or of his brother Hugh (who married his cousin Hully and had a son Gilbert who went to Western Canada. X who are the sons of Hugh - son of Gilbert of the first marriage. (That last sentence is a little confusing! W. W.M.)

Failing male descendants of either Sam of Lennoxville or of his brother Hugh - then the children of James second marriage come in and if there were a Baronetcy or Dukedom - your humble servant the present writer would come in for the title and after me my brother Johnnie. I hope this is clear and that I am not lodging a false claim for the headship for the clan Mathewson.

I have sent you by the same post that takes this letter, a registered envelope containing the Mathewson Pedigree which will interest you. It contains I think, everything known about this clan. Please take the best care of it for I believe it is the· only copy and let me have it back when you have done with it - Let me draw attention to the good handwriting of my Grandfather Lavens to your Grandfather. Good Methodists even in those days, but not like the Methodists of to-day. They were what are called "Clunite" or "Clonite" Methodists and in a sense belonged to the "Church" - going to the Parish Church on Sunday morning and also for Holy Communion, Baptism, Marriage and Funeral Services. My mother was baptized in Derry Cathedral so she told me once. You will find other interesting documents in the package."

The Mathewson Pedigree

Memoranda as to conflicting information and other points of difficulty received from Lavens Mathewson, Helen's Bay, County Down, Ireland, January 9th 1913.

Abbreviations: -

Auty = Authority

H.M.M. =Mrs. Hully M. Mathewson

E.S.M. =Mrs. Eliza Scott Mathewson

J.A.M. = James Adams Mathewson (Montreal)

G.H. = George Hughes (Belfast, a good authority)

J.M.= John Mathewson of Montreal

Scrap Book also a good authority

A. As to the time the Mathewsons' came to Scotland.

H.M.M. informed me last year that she thought they came about the beginning of the last century viz. the 18th. She now states that they came about 1750 or towards the end of the reign of George 2nd. (1727-1760). In my opinion the former year is more likely to be correct for the following reasons. It is acknowledged that James Mathewson's Grandfather was one of the original Planters, at least all the authority I have consulted say so. James Mathewson was born either 1723 or 1727. (G.H. says 1723, J.M. 1727). If his grandfather came over in 1750, James M. must have been born in Scotland and was a man over 23 years when he came. To accept this we must believe that the original planter, one of the five brothers, emigrated to Ireland accompanied not only by his sons but also by one of his grandsons who had arrived at maturity. This seems rather improbable.

B. As to the part of Scotland from which they came.

H.M.M. says the Isle of Lewis and again the Orkneys. E.S.M. says thelsle of Lewis and that they owned the island. G.H. supposes that they were of Norwegian extraction and settled in Lewis. J.M. says they came from Ayrshire. To dispute this statement would be to disregard Uncle John as authority which should be done very reluctantly, as so far as we know, he is the only one of James Mathewson's sons who has placed on record any statement on this subject. He was of antiquarian tastes as the letters to the Montreal papers show. However if we have strong reasons to believe his statements erroneous we must reject it.

C. As to the names of the five brothers Mathewson.

H.M.M. stated last year that they were John, Joseph, Gilbert, Thomas and James, and that thirty years after coming to Tyrone, Joseph and Thomas emigrated to County Waterford with their families. Reverend John, one of the brothers, built and was first minister of the Presbyterian Church, Ardstraw. H.M.M. says now that one of the brothers was Hugh and not Thomas and that Hugh and Joseph removed to Westneath. James was ancestor of James Mathewson of Ardstraw and not of Rev. John. As these two statements are conflicting, I prefer to accept the latter as H.M.M. having to depend on memory alone and not on any record, would be more likely to be correct after thinking over the matter for 12 months. H.M.M. says that the old church was first built in "the year of the three sevens" 1777 and that it was built for the Rev. John who, if this is correct must have been a very old man at the time, as his grandnephew James M. was 50 years of age.

[N.B. The Rev. John Mathewson who built and was first minister of the church in Ardstraw was almost certainly NOT one of the five brothers. We know that James of Ardstraw's father Gilbert died in Ireland in 1747 and that he was the son of one of the five brothers. The Rev. John Mathewson referred to by HMM therefore is probably son or grandson of one of the five brothers. - Stuart McCormick August 2021]

D. As to the old and the present Church of Ardstraw.

E.S.M. says that her grandfather James gave the· land and built the present church. J.M. says his father gave the land for the church. These statements agree? Query - How long did the first meeting house last? If it was built in 1777, it cannot have lasted 50 years as James M. (who gave the land for the new one) died in 1828 and it is not likely he gave the land for a Presbyterian Church after several of his children had joined the Methodists. Gilbert was the first of the family, J.M. says, to join the Methodists, then Sarah, Jane and Lavens. As Lavens was a Methodist for 34 years according to obituary in "Derry Sentinel" he must have joined the body in 1801 as he died in 1835. Taking all these facts into consideration, the first meeting house must have lasted a very short time.

E. As to the age of James Mathewson of Ardstraw.

J.M. says he was born in 1727 and died in 1828 aged 101 years and 8 months. G .H. says (on Robert Kelso's authority) that James M. was 105 years old when he died though 103 was on his coffin. J.A.M. gives two dates for James M's birth, 1723 and 1727. Must we disregard Uncle John again? It may be that whoever wrote Uncle John about his father's death told him that the age was 1O1 years and 8 months and that the same person was the authority for the age on the coffin, which is likely to have been in this form (in his 102nd year). The exactness of the age given as 1O1 years and 8 months, gives an appearance of correctness but it may have been an error for 104 years and 8 months.

F. As to the names of James M's children by Martha Sproule.

H.M.M. says there were three sons Gilbert, Joseph and James. (This information was given a year ago) J.M. says there were three sons and three daughters by his first marriage. H.M.M. now states there were four sons by the first marriage, namely Gilbert, Hugh, Joseph and James E.S.M says that "Joseph came to America, also Gilbert and Hugh and they all died in Ontario near "Vaughan". It may be stated that E.S.M. is in error as to where Gilbert died as his death according to the Rev. C. McCord' s account of it, transcribed into J.M.'s scrapbook, took place at Clare House on Nov. 17th 1820 in the 59th year of his age. Now as to the above named Hugh-if we believe he existed we must disregard Uncle John again but surely he knew how many half brothers he had.

G. As to Mrs. Potter's Christian name.

H.M.M. says "Isabella" J.A.M. says "Sarah" J.M. says "my two sisters Sarah and Jane (i.e presumably his full sisters) Isabella Newson says "Sarah"

H. As to the time of Mrs. Potter's death.

H.M.M. (on authority of Mrs. Potter's daughter) says she died about the time that Uncle Clark returned from America (Query-- When?) J.M. says speaking of his mother "after my father's death she went to reside with her daughter Mrs. Newson. My oldest sister, Mrs. Potter having died several years before".' According to this Mrs.·Potter must have died prior to 1828. However G.H. says Rose Ker lived for several years with my grandfather Lavens Mathewson and I think until his decease in 1835. She went to Balleybofey to relations and died there.

H.M.M. says Robert Potter died about the same time as his wife in New Orleans whether he had gone two years previously. Query - when did Rose Ker Mathewson goto Balleybofey to reside?

I. As to the age of Lavens Mathewson at death and date of birth. · "Derry Sentinel" says he died June 19th 1835 in the 49th year. G.H. says do in the 48 1/2 years. Presume he was born in Dec. 1786

J. As to the age of Rebecca M. (Mrs. Love) and date of birth.

J.M. says she died Oct. 30th 1861 aged 98 years. G.H. says she left Ireland when 60 years of age and died at Newmarket (Toronto) aged 102 years.

The above is an exact copy of our cousin J.J. Elders memoranda on the Mathewsons and, their collaterals. L. Mathewson Helen's Bay April 1905


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