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John Matthews was born in 1752 in England. (The precise place of his birth is unknown as is his ancestry.) During the years immediately preceding the outbreak of the American Revolution, the British Army was already stationed in Boston, a hotbed of American patriotism, to suppress incipient insurrection. John Matthews, a loyal British subject, found himself impressed into the British Army. To be impressed (or 'pressed) into the Army was to be forcibly taken -- often kidnapped from local taverns near the wharves -- and put into service against one's will. John was sent to America to fight against the colonists, but deeming the cause unjust, he deserted. One report claims that he made his escape by hiding for three days and nights under a church in South Boston before he could make his escape through the British lines and seek safety in the back towns. John made it to Temple, New Hampshire, where he was living at the official outbreak of hostilities and from where he readily responded to the Lexington alarm in 1775. John continued in the Continental Army through the entire war. After the close of the war he received a pension for military service.

In memory of
Mr. John Matthews
who died
June 26, 1822
AE. 70
A Native of England, a Soldier
in the Revolutionary, was from
commencement to the end
SALLY
Wife of
John Matthews
Died
Feb. 4, 1845
AE. 84
Blessed are the dead
who die in the Lord


After John's discharge at Newburgh, New York, June 1783, following a service of more than eight years, he returned to New Hampshire and in April 1784 "John Matthews Coming from Peterborough an European" was greeted by Constable Benjamin Prescott, and ordered "to depart forthwith from Jaffrey." (Warning out was the practice of ordering poor or indigent persons or families to leave a community if they are looked upon as potentially becoming dependent upon the town, township, city, etc. for support. John, no doubt due to a continuing British accent, was mistaken for an Englishman. After nearly a decade in America and having fought for the Patriot cause, he undoubtedly considered himself an American.) The customary warning was unheeded (or dropped once authorities learned he'd fought for the Americans) and John remained for the rest of his life a resident of Jaffrey. He lived in present East Jaffrey Village, on the David A. Cutler place, now (1932) owned by Mrs. Olivine Lambert.

In May 1784, he married Sarah ("Sally") Wesson at Jaffrey. Sally, the daughter of Isaac Wesson and Lucy Dean, was born October 17, 1760 in Reading, Massachusetts. (The Wesson and Dean families have both been researched back another 4 generations.) John and Sally had 10 children: John (born 1784), an unnamed child who died 1789, Isaac (born 1790), James (born 1792), Stephen (born 1794), William (born 1796), Thomas (born 1799), another unnamed child who was born 1801 and died the following year, Lavina (born 1804), and Arvilla, who died unmarried (birth date unknown).

John died in Jaffrey on June 26, 1822 at the age of 70. Sally died February 4, 1845 at the age of 84. Both are buried in Jaffrey.

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See lineage of Matthews Family

Read the Biography of John's son, Thomas Matthews

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