Matthew Tilghman was the son of Richard Tilghman, but adopted when he was fifteen by his childless cousin, Major General Matthew Tilghman Ward. a He inherited his cousin estate in Talbot County called "Bayside." By 1741 he was commissioned as a captain of a troop of horseman organized to protect the Eastern shore from native Americans. In the same year he was also made a Justice of the Talbot County Court on which he served until 1775.
Matthew Tilghman served in the Maryland Government off and on from 1751 to 1781. As a representative from Talbot County, he was the Speaker of the House from 1773-1774 and played a leading part throughout the Revolution. He was Chairman of the Committee of Correspondence in 1774 and Chairman of the Council of Safety in 1775. He was a part of the Maryland delegation to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776, but in 1776 he was summoned from Congress to attend the convention to write the Maryland State government, so was not available to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Matthew married 6 APR 1741 Anna Lloyd, the daughter of James Lloyd and the sister of his brother, William Tilghman's wife. They were the parents of five children:
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