Born in St Pancras London in 1858, he was the youngest with three elder sisters and it appears he never knew his father. At aged 13 he was living at 121 Gt College Street with his mother Helen (b 1827) who was a Pianoforte seller.
He moved to Birmingham where at aged 22 he was working as a "music seller" and “living in” as a servant to a Mr E A Barton. In 1885 his son was born but his wife soon died and by 1891 he was living with his 5 year old son George Philip and mother-in-law in Birmingham where he established a factory firstly in Hockley Street and then at Soho Hill Works, and was listed as an instrument maker and employer.
He married his 2nd wife Sara Sparrow in 1899 and by 1911 had retired from the business and moved to Strathmore, Southbourne Grove, Prittlewell in Essex with three daughters aged 7, 5 and 3. He died there on the 26th February 1929 leaving his estate of £5091 to his widow Sara.
Not only did he sell a wide range of instruments bearing his own name but he made banjos and zither-banjos for other wholesale and retail firms (such as Ball Beavon, Rose Brothers, J. Thibouville, Lamy & Co., Rose Morris & Co.) to brand as their own. "Down South" was a brand of JTL made by Matthew.
Note: So that he could maufacture "without orders" but still be able to sell to a retailer Matthew tended to put his makers mark, hidden, on the reverse side of the perch pole i.e. facing the inside of the vellum. .. and the heel on an early Matthew banjo is very recognisable. Often the last three digits of the serial number were also printed on the pot usually by the neck clamp.