David Mathews

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David Mathews (* around 1739 in New York City , Province of New York ; † July 28, 1800 in Sydney , British North America ) was a North American lawyer and from 1776 to 1783 the 43rd Mayor of New York , making it the last in British colonial times .


Mathews was around 1739, the son of politician Vincent Mathews and Catalina Abeel the daughter of John Abeel, the mayor in Albany born from 1694 to 1695. Mathews received an AM degree from the College of New Jersey , now Princeton University , in 1754 . On November 6, 1758 , he married Sarah Seymour at Trinity Church in Manhattan . In 1770, Mathews was one of the founders of the Moot Club, a forum for legal discussion. The forum consisted of William Livingston , James Duane , Governor Morris , Stephen Delancey, John Jay , Egbert Benson, and Robert R. Livingston . John Jay was one of the signatories of the arrest warrant against him in 1776 .

In February 1776 he was appointed as a loyalist by the British Governor William Tryon as the 43rd Mayor of New York.

Mathews lived in Manhattan and had his summer residence on Park Avenue in the Flatbush neighborhood . The residence is at the intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Park Avenue.

Plot to assassinate George Washington

Mathews was accused in 1776 of being involved with William Tryon in a scheme to kidnap George Washington , Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and the first President of the United States . The accomplice Thomas Hickey was later executed.

The New York State Comptroller ordered Mathews' arrest . He was arrested on June 22, 1776 by Lieutenant Ezekiel Cornell and taken to Litchfield , Connecticut , where he was placed under house arrest at the home of Moses Seymour, a relative of Sarah Seymour. The command to Moses read:

“You are directed and required to take him under your care and safely convey him from Hartford in Hartford county to Litchfield [...] aforesaid and him there hold and keep in safe custody permitting him only to walk abroad for the benefit of the air in the Day Time and to attend Divine Service at some place of public worship and that under your law or that of some other trusty keeper on the Sabbath Day, until you secure further Orders from me or from the Provincial Convention of the State of New York ”

In a letter to a former Princeton classmate, Mathews denied his plot against Washington:

“I have made so many fruitless applications lately that I am almost discouraged putting pen to paper again. It is verily believed throughout this Colony, that I was concerned in a Plot to assassinate George Washington and blow up the Magazine in New York? The Convention well knows such a report prevails. They also know it is false as hell is false. "

He later enjoyed greater freedom and met other loyalists such as Joel Stone, who helped him escape. On November 27, 1776, Seymour made the following search notice to the Connecticut Journal :

     FIFTY DOLLARS reward                                                         November 27, 1776
              On the night after the 20th instant escaped from Litchfield 
              David Mathews Esq., late Mayor of the City of New
              York, who was some months since taken from hence, on
              being charged with high crimes against the American States, but on
              giving his parole was admitted to certain limits, which he has
              most basely and perfidiously deserted. He is well made, about
              6 feet high, short brown hair, about 39 years old, and has a very
              plausible way of deceiving people. It is supposed he will endeavor
              to get to Long Island, where his family now resides. 
              Whoever shall take him up and return him to the subscriber in Litchfield,
              shall receive the above reward and necessary charges...

In the same year, Mathews was able to take office again under the British occupation of New York. During his tenure, numerous revolutionary army prisoners of war perished in New York. Mathews, who many contemporaries considered an unscrupulous lawyer and greedy person, was sentenced to death in absentia by the New York State MPs in 1779 and his property was confiscated. When the British withdrew in 1783, he went with other loyalists to Nova Scotia in what is now Canada , where he acquired large estates, and in 1786 to Cape Breton Island , where he was prosecutor for the state. In 1800 he died there.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Marriage to Sarah Seymour. Accessed October 31, 2016
  2. ^ Connecticut Journal. ( Memento of the original from June 10, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / joelstone.ca
predecessor Office successor
Whitehead Hicks Mayor of New York
James Duane