Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Matthias Papers, 1834-1835

James V. Medler Crime Collection

Finding aid created by
Terese Austin, September 2008

Summary Information
Title: Matthias papers
Creator: Matthias, Robert, 1778-1841 and Western, Henry
Inclusive dates: April 1834-11 June 1835
Extent: 7 items
The Matthias papers are a small, miscellaneous collection of letters and documents relating to Robert Matthias (a.k.a. Robert Matthews), the leader of the Kingdom of Matthias cult. They touch upon the lives and circumstances of Matthias; his wife, Margaret Matthias; cult follower Benjamin Folger; and Matthias’ legal counsel, Henry Western and N. Nye Hall.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1994. M-3076.2.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Matthias Papers, James V. Medler Crime Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Robert Matthias, a struggling carpenter living in New York State in the early 19th century, became the leader of a patriarchal cult known as the "Kingdom of Matthias." When the cult broke up, Matthias faced accusations of multiple offenses, including obtaining money on false pretenses, assault, and murder. He ultimately served four months in prison, three for assaulting his daughter and an additional month for contempt of court.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Matthias papers include seven miscellaneous items: three letters from Robert Matthias’ wife, Margaret, to his legal counsel, Henry Western; two letters to Robert Matthias while he was living in Sing Sing, New York; and two legal documents. A full description of each item is located in the Detailed Box and Folder Listing.

Subject Terms

    • Crime and criminals--New York (State)
    • Criminal justice, Administration of--United States.
    • Cults--New York (State)--History--19th century.
    • Folger, Ann.
    • Folger, Benjamin H.
    • Hall, N. Nye.
    • Kingdom of Matthias (Cult)
    • Matthias, Robert, 1778-1841.
    • Western, Henry.
    • Wife abuse.
    • Matthias, Margaret.
    Genre Terms:
    • Affidavits.
    • Correspondence.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   4, James V. Medler Crime Collection  
    Matthias papers,  1834 April 4-1835 June 11 [series]
    Folder   7  
      1834 April 4 . Letter from Margaret Matthias to Henry Western, asking for rent money.
      1834 April 6 . Letter from Margaret Matthias to Henry Western asking for money to clothe her son so that he can appear in court; she claims to have suffered in her association with Matthias.
      1834 May 29 . Brief letter from Benjamin Folger to Robert Matthias, relating to Folger's mental state, and to the disposition of articles sent for by Matthews.
      1834 July 28 . Letter from "F" to Robert Matthias, describing an encounter with a man who mistook him for a robber after he "obtained entrance in the manner you suggested."
      1834 December 26 . Statement signed by Ann Folger and Benjamin Folger acknowledging receipt of subpoena to attend court in White Plains on January 12.
      1835 May 8 . Statement signed by Margaret Matthias giving the circumstances around the dismissal of N. Nye Hall as Robert Matthias' legal counsel -- she found him ill as a result of a "debauch," and Matthias, informed of Hall’s habits, directed that he be removed from the case.
      1835 June 11 . Letter from Margaret Matthias to Henry Western informing him that she is writing "the true account of Matthias" and asking for some money for rent.
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Johnson, Paul E. The Kingdom of Matthias. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.