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Matthew Clay (May 25, 1754 – May 27, 1815) was a United States Representative from Virginia.

Matthew Clay
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 15th district
In office
March 4, 1815 – May 27, 1815
Preceded byJohn Kerr
Succeeded byJohn Kerr
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 14th district
In office
March 4, 1803 – March 3, 1813
Preceded bySamuel Jordan Cabell
Succeeded byWilliam A. Burwell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th district
In office
March 4, 1797 – March 3, 1803
Preceded byIsaac Coles
Succeeded byAbram Trigg
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from Pittsylvania County
In office
Alongside Benjamin Lankford, Thomas Tunstall and Stephan Coleman
Personal details
Born(1754-03-25)March 25, 1754
Halifax County, Virginia
DiedMay 27, 1815(1815-05-27) (aged 61)
Halifax Court House, Virginia
Resting placePittsylvania County, Virginia
Political partyDemocratic-Republican
Military service
Branch/serviceContinental Army
Years of service1776–1783
UnitNinth, First and Fifth Virginia Regiments
Battles/warsAmerican Revolutionary War


Son of Rev. Charles Clay, Matthew Clay was born in Halifax County, Virginia. During the American Revolutionary War he entered the Ninth Virginia Regiment on October 1, 1776. He transferred to the First Virginia Regiment in 1778 and to the Fifth Virginia Regiment in 1781, being successively promoted to first lieutenant, captain, and quartermaster. He was mustered out 1783.

Clay was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1790 to 1794 and was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Fifth and to the seven succeeding Congresses, serving from March 4, 1797, to March 3, 1813. While in the House he was chairman of the Committee on Militia (Tenth Congress). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1813 to the Thirteenth Congress. His refusal to vote in favor of the Declaration of War against Great Britain in June 1812 (Clay abstained on the vote, one of only two Virginia Republicans who declined to vote for the Declaration) was unpopular with his constituents and contributed to his defeat.[1] Clay won back his seat in the next election. He served in the Fourteenth Congress from March 4, 1815, until his death at Halifax Court House in 1815. Interment was in the old family burying ground in Pittsylvania County.

Matthew was one of the original trustees (in 1793) of the then unincorporated town of Danville. The others were Thomas Tunstall, William Harrison, John Wilson, Thomas Fearne, George Adams, and Thomas Smith

Matthew Clay was a brother of early Kentucky politician Green Clay and first cousin of the statesman Henry Clay. Matthew's daughter Mary was a victim of the Richmond Theatre fire of 1811.


  • 1797; Clay was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives unopposed.
  • 1799; Clay was re-elected defeating Federalist Isaac Coles.
  • 1801; Clay was re-elected unopposed.

See alsoEdit


  • United States Congress. "Matthew Clay (id: C000487)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Isaac Coles
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Abram Trigg
Preceded by
Samuel Jordan Cabell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 14th congressional district

Succeeded by
William A. Burwell
Preceded by
John Kerr
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
John Kerr