MATHESON (MADYSON, MATHEWSON), George (by 1489-1540/41), of Kingston-upon-Hull, Yorks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. by 1489. m. Anne.3

Offices Held

Sheriff, Kingston-upon-Hull 1510-11, mayor 1514-15, 1522-3, 1529-30, alderman by 1527; commr. subsidy 1515, 1523, 1524.4


The Crown Office list for the Parliament of 1529 gives ‘Georgius Madyson’ and ‘Edwardus Madyson’ as the Members for Kingston-upon-Hull. The identical spelling of the surnames has invited the presumption that George was perhaps the son of Edward Madison who after being admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in 1539 predeceased his father in 1550. What little is known about Edward’s son George suggests that in 1529 he was young and inexperienced, and unlikely to have taken precedence on the return over his father. George’s name has not been traced in the Hull records, but that of George Matheson, a possible alternative spelling for Madyson, appears often. A generation older than Edward Madison’s son and Madison’s own senior in municipal experience, George Matheson is here accepted as the Member of the fifth, sixth and seventh Henrician Parliaments.5

Matheson was one of the leading merchants in Hull in the early 16th century. His business lay mainly in the trade along the north-eastern coast, where he dealt in lead, cloth, wine, cereals and fish, and his customers included several monastic houses, notably Durham priory, and members of the peerage. Thomas, Lord Darcy, bought wine from Matheson, and the two men were evidently on friendly terms as Darcy welcomed him to Temple Hirst; the connexion did not harm him for he did not support Darcy during the Pilgrimage of Grace, and after the rebellion he remained in favour with the King and with the 3rd Duke of Norfolk, to whom the rule of the north was entrusted. Matheson was a not infrequent litigant: he is usually met with as plaintiff but at least once he was the defendant, when a Hanseatic merchant brought an action against him for refusing to accept delivery of some goods.6

Throughout his life Matheson took a keen interest in local affairs and his succession of municipal offices enabled him to display this interest to advantage. His personal standing at Hull is suggested by his selection in 1527 with Roger Bushell and another alderman to defend the townsmen’s privileges before the King’s illegitimate son, the Duke of Richmond, at Sheriff Hutton and by his return later to three consecutive Parliaments. Although in 1529 he had had no previous experience of the Commons (the names of all the Members for Hull earlier in the century are known, except those for the Parliament of 1523 when he was technically barred from election by his second mayoralty), he took precedence over his companion Edward Madison, who was associated with Sir Thomas More. It was after his election to Parliament that Matheson was chosen for a third and final term as mayor. He was the chief mover behind the town’s application for a new charter, and presumably he used his presence in the capital to petition for it: the effort was successful, and in May 1532, after the fourth session of the Parliament had ended, he and Madison obtained the charter. Nothing has come to light about Matheson’s part in this Parliament or its two successors. In 1536 he and Madison re-entered the House together in compliance with the King’s general request for reelection of the previous Members, and three years later, by which time Madison father and son had long ceased to live in Hull, he reappeared there with a less prominent townsman, Robert Kemsey. It is said that the two Members were paid by the corporation out of the proceeds of the sale of some of its plate, which it had feared to lose in the aftermath of the rebellion.7

It was on 18 May 1540, while he was in London for the third session of this Parliament, that Matheson made his will. He asked to be buried in St. Mary Lowgate at Hull ‘or else in the parish church where it shall please God to call me out of this world’. After remembering the poor, he left bequests to his relatives, to Thomas Pentland, a scholar whom he supported at Oxford and who became chaplain to Cardinal Pole, and to Samson Audley ‘his host’, presumably the owner of his lodgings in the capital. Matheson did not die immediately after making his will, and perhaps not before the dissolution of the Parliament, for on the following 4 Aug. he was sent a letter about the collection of the subsidy he had helped to grant, but he was dead by 25 Feb. 1541, when his will was proved at York by his widow.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Kingston-upon-Hull, chamberlains’ rolls.
  • 2. E159/319, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2].
  • 3. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 24 Alenger ptd, N. Country Wills, i (Surtees Soc. cxvi), 172-3; C1/656/20, 1032/1.
  • 4. J. Tickell, Kingston-upon-Hull (1798), 674-5; L. M. Stanewell, Cal. Anct. Deeds. Kingston-upon-Hull, D. 531; Statutes, iii. 175; LP Hen. VIII, iii, iv.
  • 5. Vis. Lincs. (Harl. Soc. li), 622-6; A. R. Madison, Lincs. Wills 1500-1600, pp. 37, 58.
  • 6. VCH Yorks. (E. Riding), i. 141; LP Hen. VIII, xii, add.; Yorks. Arch. Soc. rec. ser. xlv. 85.
  • 7. Stanewell, D531; J. R. Boyle, Chs. and Letters Pat., Kingston-upon-Hull 66-67; T. Gent Kingston-upon-Hull (1735), 111.
  • 8. N. Country Wills, i. 172-3; Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, p. 441; E159/317, brev. ret. Mich. r. [1-2]; 371/309, r. 61(i).