Thomas appears in the 1881 census when he was living with his family in 8 Chapel Street Shrewsbury in Shropshire. His father was Joseph 42 a ‘Cottage labourer’. His mother was Eliza 24 a charwoman. Their children were Joseph 9, Thomas 2 and Amy 3 months. (I have doubts about the recorded ages of the parents as these are not born out in the next census).
In the next census of 1891 the family was living in Milbrook Cottage in Bangor on Dee. Joseph was recorded as a 44 year old ‘Road man’, Eliza was 30. Joseph was a 14 year old ‘Farm Cow Boy’. Thomas was 11, Amy 10, Fanny 8, Eliza 6 and Timothy 4.
The census of 1901 finds Thomas Matthews in the Barracks of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in Wrexham. He had joined the army. It is not clear how long he served but this explains why he was an army reservist and so was called up to serve so early in the war.
The 1911 census finds Thomas Matthews 32 a married man with a family. They were living at Kiln Cottages Bangor, Is y Coed. He was working as a ‘farm labourer’. His wife of 3 years was Elizabeth Matthews 33. Four children had been born to Elizabeth but one had not survived. The children recorded were William 14, Mary Ellen 9 and Amy 2. (Had Elizabeth had a previous marriage?)
UK Soldiers Who Died in The Great War 1914 -19 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk actually has misrecorded his regimental number. It gives 6503 which is slightly different from all other sources. Apart from that it confirms the regimental details above and adds that he enlisted in Wrexham. This source tells us he was ‘Killed in Action’.
Thomas’s medal card confirms the regimental details above and lists his three medals. It also has the words ‘Presumed dead 30/ 10/14. It also tells us that he first entered theatre of war on the 20th October 1914 (just 10 days before his ‘presumed’ death date).
There is an index card for Thomas Matthews in the Flintshire Roll of Honour at The County Record Office in Hawarden. It confirms the regimental details above and gives the address Kiln Cottages, Bangor. It says he was a reservist called up in August 1914. This card says he fell in action on the 20th October 1914 aged 35 which is not the date given on all other sources.