Mathias Barton was a son of the Reverend Thomas and Esther (Rittenhouse) Barton, born in 1762. He was admitted to the bar in 1778, and elected to represent Lancaster County in the state House of Representatives, 1793-1795. In 1796 he was elected to the Senate of Pennsylvania, and reelected in 1800. He married Esther Cox, the daughter of Tench Cox. He was a well known scholar in natural history, a mineralologist, and without classical training, an excellent painter. He died in Philadelphia on January 11, 1809, at 47 years.