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Mathews, Mr William (1828 - 1901)

Biographical notes

William Mathews was the eldest son of Jeremiah Mathews, Land Agent, and nephew of William Mathews (sen), a prominent figure in Birmingham civic life. He is best known as a founding member of the Alpine Club, of which he was a president, along with his brother Charles Edward Mathews.

From an early age he showed an interest in botany and zoology and as a teenager he became the first secretary of the newly formed Worcestershire Naturalists' Club. He was a life-long friend of Edwin Lees, sharing his natural history interests.


1841 Yardley (school) - census
1851 St John's College, Cambridge - census
1861 Hagley-road, Edgebaston - census
1871 Harbourne-road, Edgebaston - census
1881 Harbourne-road, Edgebaston - census
1891 Harbourne-road, Edgebaston - census
1901 Broadwater Down, Kent - census



Additional links

Annotated family tree of the Mathews of Edgbaston. link
Chronologically ordered list of British specimens collected by William Mathews. link
Obituary from the Journal of Botany, 1901. link
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1828 : Birth Venn's Cambridge alumni records that William was the eldest son of Jeremiah and Mary Mathews and that he was baptised at Hagley on 14th October 1828. His father was a land surveyor.
1847 : Worcestershire Naturalists' Club Along with Edwin Lees, Professor Buckman and Dr. J H Blount a society to compile a county flora was formed. The young William Mathews was its secretary. (Jones, M. M. 1880. The lookers-out of Worcestershire. Trowbridge.
1848 : Cambridge University St John's College: "Matric. Michs. 1848; (20th Wrangler, 1852); B.A. 1853; M.A. 1856. "(Venn, J. A., comp. Alumni Cantabrigienses.)
1856 March 5 : Geological Society William was elected as a fellow of the Geological Society (his uncle William had been elected in 1838.)
1858 : The Alpine Club William Mathews is generally acknowledged as the founding member of the Alpine Club.
1859 August : Mont Blanc 1Worcester Journal : 1859 October 1
 "WORCESTERSHIRE NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY - Mr. Mathews road a paper descriptive of meteorological observations taken during an ascent of Mont Blanc, on the 28th, 29th, and 30th August, 1859. These observations were taken from thermometers erected at three different stations in the ascent, by Dr. Tindall, who had ascended Mont Blanc a short time previously, and were the first observations made since their erection. The thermometer on the summit of Mont Blanc stood at 5.4 degrees. Mr. Mathews invited attention at tho close of the soiree to inspect a series of stereoscopic views of various Alpine scenes, which he had obtained. He also produced specimens of lava from a basaltic quarry, at Clermont, in Central France, taken from different elevations, showing the process from carious lava into compact trap. "
1862 : Publication William contributed chapters to Peaks, Passes and Glaciers, edited by Kennedy, E. S., documenting his recent Alpine excursions. [Google Books] link
1863 December 16 : Marriage 1Oxford Times: 1863 December 26 -
 "MARRIAGES. MATHEWS - LAWRENCE. - Dec. 16, at the parish church of Kingsnorton, Worcestershire, by the Hon. and Rev. W. H. Lyttelton, Rector of Hagley, assisted by the Rev. J. M. L. Aston, Vicar of Kingsnorton, William Mathews, jun., Esq., M.A., of Edgbaston, to Agnes Sarah, youngest daughter of John Towers Lawrence, Esq., of Balsall Heath, Birmingham."
1868 : Publication Clentine Rambles. - William contributed a list of the "geological formations" and flowering plants to this book by William Harris and W. Stephens. [Google Books] link
1876 : Algeria He made an autumn expedition to Algeria, later writing about his observations.
1880 : Publication Flora of Algeria, considered in relation to the physical history of the Mediterranean region, and supposed submergence of the Sahara. 56pp. This was based on a paper presented to the Birmingham Philosophical Society which subsequently appeared in their Transactions.
1881 : Publication Flora of the Clent and Lickey Hills.
1901 October 11 : Death 1Cheltenham Chronicle: 1901 October 14 -
 "DEATH OF MR. W. MATHEWS. AN ALPINE EXPLORER. Mr. William Mathews, M.A., F.G.S., died on Wednesday at Broadwater Down, Tunbridge Wells, where has resided during the past few years. During the greater part of his life he was engaged in business in Birmingham, and was active, until his health began to fail, in the furtherance of higher education in that city. He was a good geologist and enthusiastic botanist, and his excellent collections of the local and Alpine flora were lately presented to the Herbarium at Kew; an original member of the Alpine Club, and in due course President, he was in his younger days one of the most active explorers of the Alps, especially in the region South of Mont Blanc. During these wanderings he made many new ascents, perhaps the most noteworthy being that of Monte Viso, which he climbed in 1861. Though his work was arrested by an illness, the result of over-strain about twenty-five years ago, his interest in science remained, until all labour was stopped by increasing illness. "
A fuller obituary, by T. G. Bonney, was printed in The Eagle (Internet Archive)

1 Transcription reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive

Managed by Richard Middleton : last updated 2016 February 18