MATTHEWS, John (1755-1826), of Belmont, Herefs.
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Family and Education
bap. 30 Oct. 1755, 2nd but o. surv. s. of William Matthews of Linton Burton and Llangarren by Jane, da. of Philip Hoskyns of Bernithen Court. educ. Eton 1770-1; Merton, Oxf. 1772, BA 1778, MA 1779, MB 1781, MD 1782; Edinburgh Univ. 1776. m. 9 Nov. 1778, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Arthur Ellis of Marcle, Herefs., 8s. 6da. suc. fa. 1799.
Physician, St. George’s hosp. 1781-3; FRCP 1783.
Mayor, Hereford 1793; capt. 1 Herefs. vols. 1797, maj. commdt. 1800, lt.-col. commdt. 1803, lt.-col. commdt. Herefs. militia 1808.
A successful physician with literary talents, Matthews bought the Clehonger estate in his native county, built a mansion and cut a figure as a magistrate and militia officer. He was chairman of quarter sessions in 1802, when he headed the committee for the election of John Geers Cotterell for the county.1 By a breach of faith, Cotterell’s election was voided for treating, so Matthews answered the ‘call of duty’ in allaying animosity by stepping into his shoes, unopposed. He regarded himself as a locum until the next election. His principles, he claimed, were those of 1688.2
Matthews is not known to have opposed Addington’s ministry. On 22 Apr. 1804 he treated Farington the diarist to his views on prominent politicians.3
He spoke of the extraordinary powers of Mr Pitt saying that he was much above any other Member and that Mr Fox appeared quite secondary to him. He said that Mr Pitt comprehended all that was great and could attend also to the most minute particulars, he said that Mr Addington was a very well meaning man, but had not that strength of mind which could raise him above others. He thought Mr Addington did not command the attention of the House.
...Mr Matthews said, that he thought the aristocracy (noble families) of the country, were averse to Mr Addington’s government not liking that a man of his degree should rule.
In September 1804 he was listed initially ‘Fox and Grenville’, then ‘doubtful Fox and Grenville’ by the Treasury. After voting with the majority against Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, he was listed ‘doubtful Sidmouth’ in July. He opposed the Grenville ministry’s repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806, and on 21 May, in his first known speech, complained of the neglect of the volunteers, from his own experience; in his view they had been spat upon by Windham, 24 June. He predicted the failure of Windham’s training bill, 26 June, and described it as ‘unnecessary and injurious’, 3 July, as well as uneconomical: he ‘remarked upon the facility with which the present ministers contrived to change their principles with their places’. On 2 July he spoke in his professional capacity, seconding Petty’s motion in favour of vaccine inoculation.
He did not seek re-election in 1806, when he resumed his championship of Cotterell as county Member, though he disagreed with him on the Catholic question in 1807.4 In 1819, as senior alderman of Hereford, he canvassed for the by-election on the ministerial interest, but declined a contest.5 He died 15 Jan. 1826.