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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

The German surname Matthias emerged in the lands that formed the powerful German state of Prussia, which at one time was an immense territory that stretched from France and the Low Countries to the Baltic sea and Poland. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the German territories were inhabited by a variety of barbarian tribes. The borders of the barbarian kingdoms changed frequently, but the region that became known as Prussia was roughly divided between the areas of Brandenburg-Prussia, West Prussia, and East Prussia. By the 19th century, Brandenburg-Prussia had incorporated East Prussia, West Prussia and many other German territories. Moreover, in the late 19th century, it led the German states in the unification of Germany.


The surname Matthias was first found in Prussia, where the family contributed greatly to the development of an emerging nation, and would later play a large role in the tribal and national conflicts of the area. The name stems from two sources which were continually mixed up throughout the Middle Ages, so they can no longer be differentiated: one was Matthaeus the Evangelist, who was patron saint of tax collectors, and the other was Mattias ( Hebrew for "gift of the gods",) who was one of the twelve Apostles. In later years the name branched into many houses, each playing a significant role in local social and political affairs.

One can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames: in early times, spelling in general, and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized; and later, spellings would change with branching and movement of families. Variations of the name Matthias include Mathias, Matthias, Mathius, Matthius, Matheus, Mathesius, Matheson, Matthisson, Mathies, Mathiessen, Thiessen and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Matthias research. Another 291 words (21 lines of text) covering the years 1727, 1710, 1558, 1504, 1565, 1681, 1764, 1681, 1764, 1761, 1831, 1809 and 1811 are included under the topic Early Matthias History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Prominent bearers of the family name Matthias during this time period were Johannes Mathesius (1504-1565), who was a friend and disciple of Martin Luther. He is the author of the first biography of Luther, and himself wrote hymns and sermons. Johann Mattheson (1681-1764) was a musician and translator and produced the...

Another 60 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Matthias Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Much of German history has been shaped by the state of Prussia. It was an enduring military power until after the Second World War. At that time, the state was abolished altogether and its land divided between the Soviet Union, Poland, East Germany and West Germany. While some Prussians were content to remain in those countries, others moved away, many of them migrating to North Ameri ca. They entered the United States mostly through Philadelphia, moving on to Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California, New York, and Maryland. Others went to Canada, settling on the prairies and in the province of Ontario. Among those of this surname listed in various historical records were:

Matthias Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Georg Matthias, who landed in New York, NY in 1710
  • Johan Philip Matthias, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1749
  • Henry Matthias, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1765

Matthias Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Geis Matthias, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1837
  • Werries Matthias, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1848
  • Benjamin Matthias, who landed in New York, NY in 1850

Matthias Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Ann Matthias, aged 25, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Calabar"
  • James Matthias, aged 39, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "David Malcolm"

  • Mary Matthias, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Washington, 1952
  • Frederick Matthias, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Albany County 2nd District, 1848
  • Edward S. Matthias, American Republican politician, Justice of Ohio State Supreme Court; Elected 1938
  • Benjamin Matthias, American politician, Member of Pennsylvania State Senate 1st District, 1848-52
  • Bernard Teo Matthias (b. 1918), German/American physicist

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    Other References

    1. Nied, Edmund. Fraenkische Familiennamen urkundlich gesammelt und sprachlich gedeutet. Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1933. Print.
    2. Bahlow, Hans. Mecklenburgisches Namenbüchlein Ein Führer durch Mecklenburgs Familiennamen. Rostock: Carl Hinstorffs Verlag, 1932. Print.
    3. Bahlow, Hans (Edda Gentry trns). Dictionary of German Names . Madison, Wisconsin: Max Kade Institute, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-924119-35-7).
    4. Bahlow, Hans. Abhandlungen zur Namenforschung und Buchgeschichte. 1980. Print. (ISBN 978-3768690522).
    5. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist. Armorial Général. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    6. Oswald, G. Lexicon der Heraldik. Leipzig: 1984. Print.
    7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    8. Strassburger, Ralph B. German Pioneers The Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia 3 Volumes. Baltimore: Picton Press, 1992. Print. (ISBN 978-0929539980).
    9. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
    10. Neubecker, Ottfried. Wappen-Bilder-Lexikon der bürgerlichen Geschlechter Deutschlands, Oesterreichs und der Schweiz. Battenberg, München: 1985. Print.
    11. ...

    The Matthias Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Matthias Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 7 October 2015 at 15:20.

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