Matthias was born June 7, 1719 in Durham, Connecticut and baptized there on June 11 that same year. On August 4, 1751 he was married by his renown brother, Rev. Jeremiah Leaming to Philathea Gould in Middlefield, Connecticut. Philathea, whose name means "love of God", was the daughter of Rev. Ebenezer Gould and Amy Brewster. She was born about 1735 in Greenfield, New Jersey.
Matthias, as well as his brother, the reverend, remained Tories throughout the Revolutionary War and were persecuted by the Patriots, who were mostly member of the Congregational or State Church (descendants of the Puritans). Matthias was a devout member of the Episcopalian Church which remained loyal to the king, and would not give up his faith. He suffered accordingly, having his property confiscated. Many in similar circumstances fled to Canada, but he remained in this country.
From the History of Derby, Connecticut, 1880: "It should be remembered that at the time of the Revolution it was supposed by the Episcopalians as well as others that since the King was the head of the Church of England, that church could have no existence except in the colonies where the King held political reign, and hence should become independent of the King. The Episcopal Church could not maintain its existence here from the very nature of the relations of the church with the government. Under this view they challenge our respect and honor for all that a true Christian hath will be lost if need be, for his church. It is evident that this was the belief of many in the Episcopal Church from the fact that at the close of the Revolutionary War many removed from the jurisdiction of the United States into British domination, not only to live under that government but to enjoy the service of that Church."
The Congregational Church had become the State Church and the General Assembly had passed strict laws to enforce orthodoxy and conformity to this church. Everyone was compelled to pay taxes to its support. Those who turned from it had become unhappy under its domination, and turned as a result to the Episcopal Church. The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church expressed loyalty to the King of England as part of its worship and to identify oneself with that church during the Revolutionary War was the same as declaring oneself on the side of the British. A daily prayer repeated in the morning and evening included "Prayer for the King's Majesty, desiring that he may vanquish and overcome all his enemies." This was not tolerated by the Patriots and many people like Matthias and Jeremiah Leaming were persecuted for such action. (However, Matthias's son, Judah served in the Revolutionary War on the Patriot side.) The Ratification of the Book of Common Prayer was acted upon by the Bishops, the Clergy and the Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, in convention in the year of our Lord 1789, and the said book was required to be received as the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church in America in 1790. The big change was in omitting the prayer for the "King of England's power to vanquish and overcome all his enemies."
Matthias died in Farmington, Connecticut on September 6, 1789 and is buried in the "old burying ground" on Main Street. It was the request of Matthias that he be buried with his feet to the east (contrary to the custom of facing east) so that when the day of Judgment comes, he might rise up to face his persecutors, thinking he was right in not denouncing his vow to the church. His rude headstone in the old Farmington burying-ground gives the date neither of his birth nor of his death, but laconically proclaims that it is, "In memory of Mr. Mathias Leaming who hars gott beyond the reach of parcecushion [persecution] - The life of man is Vanity."
It is most likely that the widow, Philathea made her home with one of the children after the death of Matthias, since most of Matthias's property had been taken from him during his lifetime; it probably left little for her to continue in her own home. She died on December 2, 1799 at Bristol, Connecticut. Her burial place is unknown.
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See lineage of Leaming Family
Read about Matthias's grandfather, Christopher Leaming
Read about Matthias's father, Jeremiah Leaming
Read about Matthias's son, Judah Leaming
Read about Matthias's grandson, Judah Leaming
Read Aaron Leaming's Diary
Read the Autobiography of Lydia Leaming Miller
Read the Autobiography of Martha (Mattie) Caroline Rogers Leaming
Read the Biography of Dessie Elizabeth Hayter Leaming