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Mathews County’s namesake: Gen. Thomas Mathews

Few people residing in his namesake county likely know much about the man Thomas Mathews.

Perhaps some may have glanced up at his portrait, which until recently had hung prominently in the historic courthouse. A handful of knowledgeable Revolutionary War buffs may know him as an officer who once fought in the Mathews County battle that freed Virginia of its last royal governor. Fewer still may know of his post-war service in the Virginia General Assembly.

Two-hundred and thirty years ago last month, the wheels were set in motion to separate Kingston Parish from the rest of Gloucester County—a move that would eventually lead to the formation of what would be Mathews County.

According to Martha M. McCartney’s book, “Mathews County, Virginia: Lost Landscapes, Untold Stories,” on Nov. 11, 1790, a group of 123 white men in Kingston Parish sent a petition to the House of Delegates, asking that Gloucester County be divided. Some of the residents lived nearly 40 miles from the county...

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