John Mathews (lawyer)

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John Mathews
John Mathews (South Carolina Governor).jpg
Reproduction of watercolor on ivory miniature attributed to Richard Cosway.
33rd Governor of South Carolina
In office
January 31, 1782 – February 4, 1783
LieutenantRichard Hutson
Preceded byJohn Rutledge
Succeeded byBenjamin Guerard
Delegate to the Continental Congress from South Carolina
In office
Personal details
Born1744 (1744)
Charleston, Province of South Carolina, British America
Died (aged 57–58)
Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
Alma materMiddle Temple, London, England

John Mathews (1744 – November 17, 1802) was an American lawyer from Charleston, South Carolina. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1781 where he endorsed the Articles of Confederation on behalf of South Carolina. On his return, he was elected the 33rd Governor of South Carolina, serving a single term in 1782 and 1783.


Mathews was born in Charleston in the Province of South Carolina in 1744. He was the son of John Mathews and Sarah Gibbes; the exact date of his birth is not known. He was commissioned an ensign and in the South Carolina Provincial Regiment which took part in an expedition against the Cherokee in the early 1760s, and was promoted to lieutenant.

He studied law at Middle Temple in London. He was a law clerk for Colonel Charles Pinckney after returning to South Carolina, was admitted to the bar, and practiced in Charleston. In 1772 he was elected to the colonial Assembly. In 1775 and 1776 he was a member of the First and Second South Carolina Provincial Congresses. In 1776 he was appointed an associate judge of the state circuit court. From 1776 to 1780 he served in the South Carolina House of Representatives, and he was Speaker in 1777 and 1778. During the American Revolution he served as a captain in the Colleton County regiment. He was a founding trustee of the College of Charleston.

Mathews was a member of the Continental Congress from 1778 to 1781, and was a supporter of the Articles of Confederation. He was then elected governor by the state legislature, and served from 1782 to 1783.

After leaving the governorship, Mathews won election as a judge of the state Court of Chancery in 1784. he was again elected to the South Carolina House in 1784. from 1791 to 1797 he was a judge of the state Court of Equity in 1791.

Mathews died in Charleston on November 17, 1802. He was buried at Circular Congregational Church Burying Ground in Charleston.


In 1766 he married Mary Wragg. After her death, in 1799 he married Sarah Rutledge, the sister of John Rutledge and Edward Rutledge.

His sister Elizabeth Mathewes was the wife of Thomas Heyward, Jr.

External links[edit]

  • United States Congress. "John Mathews (id: M000238)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • John Mathews at SCIWAY: South Carolina's Information Highway
  • John Mathews at National Governors Association
Political offices
Preceded by
John Rutledge
Governor of South Carolina
Succeeded by
Benjamin Guerard