Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater Born: ~1740 (1725 according to Slater Family Tree), London, England
Siblings: Brothers and sisters are mentioned in his will, but not named
Married: Elizabeth Twells (Twelves), 23 May 1788, St Andrew, Holborn, London, England
Children: Matthew Slater, 3 October 1757, London
                  Elizabeth Slater, 12 December 1759, London (married ~1796)
                  John Slater, 5 September 1761, London
                  George Slater, 26 October 1762, London
                  Ann Slater, 14 March 1765 (spinster)
                  Thomas Slater, 29 March 1767, London, England
                  Juliana Slater, 26 April 1770, London; died 1 September 1797 (maybe 1791)
                  Robert Slater, 20 March 1772, London
                  Sarah Slater, 9 January 1774, London; died 13 July 1790
                  Matthew II Slater, 23 December 1775
                  George II Slater, 29 July 1778
                  Charles Slater, 13 February 1780, London; died 17 June 1800
                  Rachel Elizabeth Slater, 8 April 1783, London (spinster)
Address: 8 Vine Street, Piccadilly
Occupation: Senior King's Messenger (to King George III), from 5 July 1775 to 1803
Died: 7 June 1804, Vine Street, Piccadilly
Buried: ? St Marylebone Cemetery, London, England (Ref. P89/MRY. 1/315)

Matthew Slater's marriage (PDF, 84 kB)
Matthew Slater's marriage (JPG, 521 kB)
Matthew Slater's will (PDF, 156 kB)

Matthew Slater Matthew Slater, born 1725, was a King's Messenger, travelling much in the course of his work on the Continent. It is said that he eloped with his future wife, Elizabeth Twells, from her school in Paris. They had thirteen children. Of the children, we know something of Ann, Thomas, Juliana, Charles, and Rachael Elizabeth, but nothing of any of the others, nor why there should have been a second Matthew and a second George. The Gentlemen's Magazine of 1796 records the marriage of a daughter (no name given). As Juliana and Sarah died young, and Ann and Rachael Elizabeth were spinsters, this must have been Elizabeth.

King's Messenger

The job of a King's Messenger was that of a diplomatic courier, hand-carrying important and secret documents around the world. Purists say that the history of the sovereigns' messengers goes back to 1199, but the first known messenger was John Norman, who in 1485 earned 4d (1.5p) per day for carrying the state papers of Richard III.

The silver greyhound on the messenger's badge dates back to Charles II. In 1660, during his exile at Breda, Netherlands, Charles II issued a declaration of amnesty to all those who had opposed him and his father. He used messengers to make his intentions known.

In answer to the messenger's question "How will they know me?", Charles reached forward to a silver bowl on the table in front of him. This bowl, with four decorative greyhounds standing proud above the rim, was well known to all courtiers. Charles broke off a greyhound and gave it to the messenger as a guarantee that the message came from him. From that date, the King's Messenger always wore a silver greyhound around his neck. Later, dating from George II or III, a badge with the Royal Arms in enamel, with the greyhound suspended beneath, was worn. A George III example of the King's Messenger Badge, pre 1800, sold for over 30 000 pounds some years ago.

To each of these messengers the king gave a small silver greyhound. He broke them from a dish which his father had owned and which would have been readily recognised by royalists. Thus the greyhound became the symbolic token of the messenger's loyalty. It is worn with a ribbon on formal occasions (and with an exclusive tie in modern times). The silver greyhounds were minted for each new reign, except the brief one of King Edward VIII.

The sovereign's messengers were originally controlled by the Lord Chamberlain, being Messengers of the Great Chamber. When the Foreign Office was created in 1782, the messengers remained common to the three Secretaries of State. Until 1822, the Foreign Office messengers were under the control of the Foreign Office Librarian, but by 1824 they were within the Home Service and Foreign Service Messengers Department.

The number of Messengers was 27 in 1995, and 15 in about 2005.

According to "The History of the King's Messengers" published in 1935 by V. Wheeler-Holohan, the following people served as King's Messengers during the period when Matthew Slater was a King's Messenger:
Daniel Ardouin, Andrew Basilico 1782-1813, William Bassett, Benjamin Bathurst (nine days only), James Dickens, Thos East, Thomas Fisher, Lewis Hertslet, Ralph Heslop, Richd Johnson, John Mason, John Proudman, William Ruffe, William Ross 1765-1800, John Schaw, Charles Sylvester, William Tims, Nathaniel Vick, George Walsh, Thos Wiffin.
The following died on duty during that period:
Samuel Brooks, (Thomas Brown?), William Flint, George Lyell, John Magistri, George Sparrow.
I have listed these names here, in the hope that other family history researchers will find this page and make contact.

A King's Messenger in 1795 received a salary of 60 pounds per annum.

King's Messenger - Andrew Basilico King's Messenger - William Ross
King's Messengers: Andrew Basilico (1782-1813) and William Ross (1765-1800)

King's Messenger badges from the reign of King George III
King's Messenger Badge, King George III King's Messenger Badge, King George III King's Messenger Badge, King George III

Picture 1: The badge of a King's Messenger during the reign of King George III,_Colston_Bassett_and_Beyond.pdf

Picture 2: A George III silver gilt King's Messenger's badge of oval form with crown surmount, modelled with a garter, inscribed 'Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense', framing a glazed panel, painted with the Royal flag, hung with a greyhound pendant, unmarked, height approx 12.5cm.

Picture 3: British Museum - King's Messenger's badge; silver gilt; oval; royal crown; garter motto enclosing shield with royal arms painted under crystal; monogram; rose and thistle; silver greyhound with hallmark; attached by loops at bottom. Diameter: 4.54 inches!!%2FOR%2F!!%2F42362%2F!%2F42362-1-3%2F!%2FEmblem+of+England%2F!%2F%2F!!%2F%2F!!!%2F&orig=%2Fresearch%2Fsearch_the_collection_database%2Fadvanced_search.aspx¤tPage=3&numpages=10

Expense claim from the book "The Carnarvon Dale Papers", Volume 4

In 1795 Matthew was appointed Senior King's Messenger, and an Expense Account for a journey to St Petersburgh and back, rendered on November 10th, 1795, has survived:

Despatched with 3 horses from Whitehall to St. Petersburgh.

To my journey from London to Yarmouth - being 136 miles at 1/6 per mile 9-9-0.

To 12 stages at 2d per stage and turnpikes 1-10.

Paid for passage from Yarmouth to Cuxhaven 3-13-0.

To 7 days on passage at 10/o per day 3-10-0.

To posting from Cuxhaven to Hanover by Berlin 19-10-0.

To 183 stages at 2d per stage and 30 days living 33-6-0.

To Ponts Barriers and crossing rivers this journey 4-10-0.

To safeguards and extra guides through Courland and Livonier 5-10-0.

To loss of money by exchange 4-10-0.

To attendance at St. Petersburgh for 5 days 11-10-0.

Despatched back with 3 horses from St Petersburgh to Whitehall 16-8-8.

To extra boat to land me at Yarmouth 10/6

To extra expenses crossing in boat etc on account of the sea 5-5-0.

I have examined the bill as for 491-9-6
Richd Ancell

I allow the bill
(signed) Greville.

Receipt signed Matthw Slater.

At this time the family was living in London at 8 Vine St, Piccadilly, as is shown by the address on several letters written to his mother by their son Charles while a student at Queens' College, Cambridge.

8 Vine Street, Piccadilly

St Marylebone burial records from 7 June 1804:

Matthew Slater

King George III
King of Great Britain and Ireland, and King of Hanover
Born 24 May 1738, in London at Norfolk House.
He spent his entire life in southern England.
Acceded to the throne in 1760.
James Watt developed the steam engine in 1775.
The American Revolutionary War, also known as the American War of Independence, 1775-1783.
American Declaration of Independence was ratified, 4 July, 1776.
The 1790s saw the French Revolution. The wars with France continued until Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815.
In 1801, under the Act of Union, Great Britain and Ireland were united into a single nation - the United Kingdom. George III was thus the first king of the new nation.
King George III died 29 January 1820.

King George III by Thomas Gainsborough, 1781 King George III by Thomas Gainsborough, 1781
Portraits of King George III by Thomas Gainsborough, 1781,_Thomas/

An excellent description and set of pictures of life in the parish of St James in London can be seen at
Copyright © 2009-2014, Rodney Jones,, Randburg, South Africa (Last updated on 11 March 2014)