William Gordon Mathews

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William G. Mathews
William G. Mathews.png
Referee in Bankruptcy for Kanawha, West Virginia
In office
Clerk of the Court for Kanawha, West Virginia
In office
Personal details
Born February 26, 1877
Lewisburg, Virginia
Died June 15, 1923 (aged 46)
Charleston, West Virginia
Political party Democratic
Relations Mathews family
Alma mater Georgetown Law School, University of Virginia School of Law
Profession federal judge, lawyer

William Gordon Mathews (February 26, 1877 – 1923) was a Federal judge and lawyer from Charleston, West Virginia, serving as Referee in Bankruptcy for Kanawha, West Virginia 1898-1908, and Clerk of the Court for Kanawha 1903-1904.


William Gordon Mathews was born on February 26, 1877 in Lewisburg, West Virginia to Lucy Fry and Henry Mason Mathews. His family was politically prominent in the Virginias. His father was governor of West Virginia, his paternal grandfather, Mason Mathews, was a Virginia Delegate, and his maternal grandfather, Joseph L. Fry, was a prominent West Virginia judge.[1]

He was educated at the Lewisburg Military Academy. In 1895 he enrolled in Georgetown Law School for one year, afterward completing his degree at the University of Virginia School of Law, graduating in 1897 at 20 years of age. He was a member of the fraternities Phi Delta Phi and Phi Delta Theta. [2] In 1897 he moved to Charleston, Kanawha County, and was admitted to the Bar. He married Helen B. Davis in 1903.[1]

He entered a law partnership with Wesley Mallohan and George McClintic and was appointed referee in bankruptcy for Kanawha, West Virginia in 1898 by John B. Jackson, in the first year the federal office was created by the United States Congress.[3] In 1903 he served as the clerk of court for Kanawha County on the death of Judge F. A. Guthrie.[4]

In 1908 he was selected as the Democratic Party's nominee for the West Virginia Supreme Court, but was defeated with the Democratic ticket.[4] In 1913 he became president of the West Virginia Bar Association.

When the United States entered World War I, he was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson as the legal member of the District Board of the Southern District of West Virginia under the Selective Service Act of May 18, 1917, and served in that capacity until the end of the war.[1] He died in 1923.[1]

In his Cyclopaedia of American Biography (1929), historian J. W. Terry said of him:

"His high personal character, profound knowledge of the law, and his intensive study on every issue arising in his practice gained him recognition among the leading lawyers of his state, as well as the respect of all classes."

 — J. W. Terry, Cyclopaedia of American Biography, v. 20, (1929).[5]

Published works[edit]

  • Martial Law in West Virginia, 1913[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Atkinson, George W. (1919). Bench and Bar of West Virginia. Harvard University:Virginia law book company http://books.google.com/books?id=qi8aAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA279&dq=%22william+gordon+mathews%22&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%22william%20gordon%20mathews%22&f=false Retrieved December 9, 2012
  2. ^ Fifield, James C. (1918). "The American Bar". Harvard University: J.C. Fifield Company http://books.google.com/books?id=uDYMAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA702&dq=%22william+gordon+mathews%22&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%22william%20gordon%20mathews%22&f=false Retrieved December 9, 2012
  3. ^ See Debt's Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America, David A. Skeel, Jr., Princeton University Press 2001 (sample online at [1]).
  4. ^ a b c West Virginia Bar Association (1908). The Bar: West Virginia, Volume 15. University of California. http://books.google.com/books?id=hHCmAAAAIAAJ&pg=RA6-PA12&dq=%22william+gordon+mathews%22&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%22william%20gordon%20mathews%22&f=false Retrieved December 9, 2012
  5. ^ Terry, J. W. (1929)/ Cyclopaedia of American Biography, v. 20, 1929. Retrieved August 25, 2014 from http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015078229088;view=1up;seq=494