Elliott, Mathew

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Elliott, Mathew

ELLIOTT, MATHEW. (1739–1814). Loyalist Indian Agent. Born in County Donegal, Ireland, Mathew Elliott moved to America in 1761 and came to western Pennsylvania, where he established himself in the Indian trade. During the French and Indian War (1754–1763), he enlisted in the military and served as a scout and messenger for Henry Bouquet in 1763. In 1764 he accompanied Bouquet's expedition to the Muskingum River, in what is now eastern Ohio.

In 1765 Elliott returned to the fur trade. Using Pittsburgh as his base, he spent the next ten years trading with the Ohio Country Indian nations living in the Muskingum, Tuscarawas, and Scioto River Valleys.

When the Revolutionary War began, Elliott seemingly supported the Patriot cause. In July 1775 he supplied information concerning the British garrison at Detroit to Continental authorities, and in 1776 he conducted several councils with the Ohio Country Indians at the request of Pittsburgh officials, urging them to remain neutral during the war. But his close affiliation with Alexander McKee, the British Indian Department commissary at Fort Pitt, with whom Elliott shared a long and abiding friendship, caused local Patriots to question his true sympathies. After Patriot officials threatened McKee with arrest in March 1778, Elliott, McKee, Simon Girty, and several others fled Pittsburgh for Detroit.

Henry Hamilton, the British lieutenant governor of Detroit, did not trust Elliott, and Hamilton relegated him to menial tasks until his loyalties could be ascertained. Elliott served as a scout during Hamilton's 1778 expedition to Vincennes. The distrustful Hamilton's capture by George Rogers Clark in February 1779 removed a significant obstacle to Elliott's advancement, and thereafter he served the Crown ably in a number of raids throughout the Ohio Valley.

In 1779, Elliott and a party of Native American allies ambushed a party of Americans escorting gunpowder to Fort Pitt. In 1780 he accompanied Alexander McKee and Captain Henry Bird on an expedition against (Isaac) Ruddell's and (Joseph) Martin's Stations in Kentucky. In 1781, he evicted Moravian missionaries and their Delaware congregations who were suspected of aiding the Americans from Ohio. In 1782, he assisted in defeating an American army led by William Crawford near Upper Sandusky, Ohio, led an expedition with William Caldwell against (William) Bryant's Station in Kentucky, and helped defeat Kentucky irregulars at the Battle of Blue Licks.

Elliott remained with the Indian Department following the war. In 1796, he was appointed superintendent of Indian affairs. During the War of 1812, he participated in numerous actions along the Detroit frontier.


Allen, Robert S. His Majesty's Indian Allies: British Indian Policy in the Defence of Canada, 1774–1815. Toronto and Oxford: Dundurn Press, 1992.

Horsman, Reginald. Matthew Elliott: British Indian Agent. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1964.

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