John Matthews

John Matthews, army officer, farmer, politician (b probably in Eng c 1763; d probably in Eng 20 Aug 1832).

Matthews, John

John Matthews, army officer, farmer, politician (b probably in Eng c 1763; d probably in Eng 20 Aug 1832). Retiring as captain after 27 years in the Royal Artillery, he immigrated to Canada in 1819, apparently on the promise of the governor general, the duke of Richmond, to put him in charge of a new military settlement. Arriving after Richmond's unexpected death, he claimed the patronage of the lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, Sir Peregrine MAITLAND, but his extravagant demands alienated Maitland. Settling in the London District, he became a spokesman for critics of the local administrative elite. Elected as MPP for Middlesex in 1824, he adopted a radical political posture in the Assembly.

Matthews became a political "martyr" in 1826, when he was stripped of his military pension and ordered to report to Royal Artillery HQ in England after allegedly leading a theatre audience at York [Toronto] in pro-American songs. In 1828 the pension was restored, but not before this transparently oppressive action, probably provoked by Matthews's outspokenly anti-government stance on the ALIEN QUESTION, had helped to discredit Maitland's administration. Matthews went to England anyway in 1829.