Matcham, George (DNB00)

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MATCHAM, GEORGE (1753–1833), traveller, only son of Simon Matcham, superintendent of the marine of the East India Company, and senior member in council of the presidency of Bombay, was born in 1753, and educated at Charterhouse School. Entering the civil service of the East India Company, he subsequently became their resident at Baroche. On its cession to the Mahrattas in 1783 Matcham retired from the service. He had already travelled much in the East, and now made his way to England by an overland route, much of which he had previously explored. It included Persia, Arabia, Egypt, Asia Minor, Turkey, Greece, the Greek Islands, Hungary, and other countries. Attended only by Arabs, he rode on horseback from Bagdad to Pera; he kept journals of his travels, and an account of a journey from Aleppo to Bagdad was published with the second edition of James Capper's ‘Observations on the Passage to India,’ London, 1784, and bound up with Eyles Irwin's ‘Voyage up the Red Sea.’ During his tour he became acquainted with many persons of note, including the emperor Joseph II. In 1785 he finally settled in England, where he devoted himself to the pursuits of a country gentleman; in 1802 he patented an apparatus for preserving vessels in danger of shipwreck, and made several communications to the government on various public improvements. Some of his views are embodied in his privately printed volumes, ‘Anecdotes of a Croat’ (Gent. Mag. 1833, i. 276) and ‘Parental Chit-chat,’ 1826. He died on 3 Feb. 1833. In 1785 Matcham married Catherine, daughter of the Rev. Edmund Nelson, and sister of Admiral Lord Nelson, by whom he had five daughters and three sons.

The eldest son, George Matcham (1789–1877), born in 1789, was educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, where he graduated LL.B. in 1814, and LL.D. in 1820. In the same year he was admitted advocate in Doctors' Commons. He became chairman of the Wiltshire quarter sessions in 1836, and contributed accounts of the hundreds of Downton and Frustfield to Hoare's ‘Modern History of Wilts,’ London, 1825, &c. On 6 Nov. 1861 he contributed to the ‘Times’ ‘Notes on the Character of Admiral Lord Nelson,’ which were reprinted in the same year, together with ‘Observations on No. ccxxi. of the “Quarterly Review”’ (referred to in Stanhope's Life of Pitt, iv. 329 note, ed. 1862). He died on 18 Jan. 1877, leaving a son and two daughters by his wife Harriet, eldest daughter and heiress of William Eyre of Newhouse, whom he had married in 1817.

[Works in British Museum Library; Law Mag. and Review, 27 May 1877; Gent. Mag. 1833, i. 276; List of East India Company's Servants, 1782; Bengal Cal. 1788.]

A. F. P.