Matthew Clay (1754-1815)

Photo from Digital Public Library of America, Photo, dated 1800, by Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Memin, housed in Smithsonian Institute.

b. March 25, 1754 d. May 27, 1815


On the 27th ult. At Halifax C. H. in Virginia, MATTHEW CLAY, a Representative Elect from Campbell District, in that state, to the Congress. He had been in previous Congresses a Representative for perhaps fifteen years and was greatly esteemed for his unbending Republican principles, and his strict political integrity.” [Reporter (Lexington, Kentucky) Wed., 28 June 1815, p 3. Transcribed from 10 Jul 2013]

War records: Ensign 9th Va., Oct. 1, 1776, 2nd Lt. 16 March, 1777, 1st Lt. April 23, 1778, Regimental Quartermaster Dec. 1, 1778, transferred to 5th Virginia,12 Feb. 1781, retired 1stJan. 1783, died 1815.

Matthew Clay, warrant # 51 for 2666-2/3 acres issued 12/14/1782. Bk. I., P. 10 L. Off. Officer Jan 1776: “‘I certify that Matthew Clay of the Va. Line entered the same in Jan., 1776, and continues still as an officer in that line.’ Signed, William Davies” [Burgess, Louis Alexander. Virginia Soldiers of 1776, Vol. 3. Richmond, VA, 1929; p. 1451]

Elected as Democratic Republican to Congress 1795-1813, Represented Pittsylvania Co. along with his brothers, Charles Clay from Bedford Co., and Green Clay from Kentucky, at the 1788 Convention to ratify the Constitution of the United States. All three voted against the adoption of the constitution as presented.

Member of the House 1790-1794 Pittsylvania County

“The territorial papers of the United States” C. E. Carter
vol. V The Territory of Mississippi p. 191; Letter from Matthew Clay, Congressman from Virginia, to the President regarding the prospective appointment of Abner Green to public office in the territory. Feb. 28, 1803

1. Dec. 4, 1788 Mary Williams of Granville County, North Carolina. Mary died in 1798, the rock walled tomb is all that marks the site of their home near Chestnut Level. Her gravestone is said to read:

In Memory of Mary

daughter of Joseph Williams

who was born 16th June 1770

On 4th December, 1788 she was married to Matthew Clay

On Sunday 22 November 1789 she was

delivered of a Daughter named Sally

On Sat. 19th May, 1792, she was delivered of a son named Joseph

On Thursday 29 March 1794 she was delivered of a son named Matthew

On Saturday 12th December 1795 she was delivered of a daughter named Polly Williams

and on Sunday 25 March, 1798 she died in child bed much lamented.

It is said that Mary’s family was upset at the inscription and when they saw it, they ran over it with their wagon, breaking the stone in half, the stone was later repaired. [The History of Pittsylvania County Virginia, Maud Carter Clement (1929), pp 202-203. (Note from Gynger Cook: “the cemetery has not been located as of 6/1/06, if anyone knows where this cemetery is, please let us know.)

2. Julia Saunders (the Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy by Virkus v.7 p 85) “Marriages of Pittsylvania Co. Virginia,” Knorr

1. Sally

2. Polly (Mary) died 1811 in the Richmond Theater fire 3. Amanda b.1801 d. 1833 m. George Peyton Keesee 4. Joseph m. Margaret Bowen

1. Amanda m. Norman Cherry

2. Clement C. m. Miss Tuggle in San Francisco; 2 children 5. Matthew m. Frances Anne Saunders

1. Thomas b. 1825 m. Caledonia Anne Oliver, issue: a. Alice m. Wheeler Watson

b. John Oliver m. Fannie Wilson Lawler (issue: Thomas),
2. Fanny Lou m. Henry D. Watson
3. Matthew b. Feb. 1827 m. Mary Harrison, issue: Charles, Bettie, Thomas, Nina

Matthew m. Hattie Casey

Matthew Clay’s will proved in July of 1815 named three Children, Joseph, Matthew and Amanda Ann; There was an earlier will dated April 8, 1814 mentioning two sons, Matthew and Joseph, and daughter Amanda Ann S. Clay, also Wm. Penn, who is now 14 years of age, to be clothed, boarded and schooled until 21 years old, and three mulatto girls, Adelia, Eliza, and Ellen to be taken out of Virginia and emancipated.” Probated July 17, 1815.

Matthew Clay, with Nine others, named trustees for clearing for navigation the Roanoke, Dan and Staunton rivers, and empowered to receive subscriptions therefore. Dec. 1,, 1790. [Henings Statutes at Large V 13H p.193]

Aug. 9th 1786, 140 Acres Chickahominy Swamp. [Virginia Land Records, Henrico County, bk 12 P 227] (by Gynger Cook, reformatted and added to in 2013)

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