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by Jon Malings

Joseph and Richard Matthews were brothers, baptized in Deddington December 6th, 1808 and October 13th, 1811 respectively.  They both became missionaries to New Zealand and were some of the earliest European settlers there.

According to the Deddington parish register, their parents were William and Isabella Matthews. There is, in my mind at least, some confusion over the identity of their mother. The parish register has a William and Keziah baptizing their child Robert in 1806, then William and Isabella, followed by William and Elizabeth and a son William in 1814, William and Rizpah (Rizpha, Rispa etc.) with children between 1816 and 1822, most significantly James Baker Matthews on January 13th, 1822. Finally there is an Elizabeth in 1824, daughter of  William and Elizabeth.

In the parish register there is only one baptism of a William Matthews of the appropriate age to be father of all these children, but I can find no marriages for him in the register, nor the burial of any of his wives. There is, however, a marriage between William Matthews and Rizpah Baker at Oxford St. Giles on September 30th, 1805. Although it seems improbable, that leads me to the assumption that William only married once and that the entries in the Parish Register are all mistakes/mistranscriptions.  One of the challenges of genealogical research !

The Parish Register only started including father’s occupation in birth entries from 1813.  The baptisms after that date all describe William as a “Weaver”.

Joseph Matthews 1808 - 1895

When he was 21 Joseph Matthews spent 6 months training with the Church Missionary Society and was then sent to New Zealand to found a Mission Station in Kaitaia, in the far north of that country.  He spent his whole life there, dying in 1895 at the age of 87 years.  He is buried in the graveyard of St. Saviours, Kaitaia, a church that he founded.

Click here to read more about Joseph's life. Click here to read his obituary (pdf)

Richard Matthews 1811 - 1893 

Like his older brother, Richard Matthews became a missionary, but was given the task of founding his Mission Station in Tierra del Fuego, an island off the tip of South America.  Europeans knew virtually nothing about the place, so it was not surprising that, after only a few days, he was evacuated as the native Fuegians were aggressive, threatened his life, and stole most of his belongings.

He re-boarded the ship that had brought him, HMS Beagle, complete with Charles Darwin. The Beagle continued on its famous voyage to the Galapagos Islands and Tahiti, delivering Matthews to his brother's Mission in New Zealand some two and one-half years later. 

Richard remained in New Zealand, dying there in 1893 aged 81 years.

Click here to read more about Richard's adventurous life.
Click here to download a printable PDF file (3.2 Mb.)
Click here to read an old article (possibly written for a local magasine) supplied by Malcolm Matthews who is Richard's direct descendant resident in New Zealand. Note: Deddington is wrongly spelt Poddington and Wanganui wrongly spelt Wangonui
Click here for his Obituary (pdf)