Son of a notary, Adolphe Mathieu was born in Mons on 22nd June 1804. After his studies at a local college and the Athénée de Namur, he registered at the the former State University of Leuven, from where he was expelled after he published an ode on the death of his great-uncle, the Conventional Deputy Lesage-Senault, in which he praised the Republican regime. He then finished his studies in Ghent.
In 1840, Mathieu was named as the librarian of the City of Mons. However, he lost this position in 1844 following a political disagreement with the local communal authorities. Two years later he was registered with the newly formed Association libérale de Mons. To escape attacks from his adversaries, he left Mons and moved to Brussels. On 4th August 1849, he was given the title of "Professor" at the University of Liège. A title that he never used. In 1852, following the intervention of Charles Rogier, he became the Assistant Curator in the manuscripts section of the Royal Library. Five years later, he was named Curator, and then Head Curator in 1864. He held this post until he took his retirement in 1873.
Mathieu died on 13th June 1876 in Ixelles, where he had been the communal advisor between 1860 and 1872.
He was also a member of the Société des Sciences, des Arts et des Lettres du Hainaut, and the Société des Bibliophiles belges in Mons, and held the title of correspondant (1850) and later full member (1863) of the Classe des lettres de l’Académie royale.
As a publicist, Mathieu had a caustic wit and a way with words, which he used against some of his critiques. He published numerous poems and contributed to several newspapers in Mons.
Alph. WAUTERS, Un poète du dix-neuvième siècle. Biography on Adolphe Mathieu, in Mémoires et publications de la Société des Sciences, des Arts et des Lettres du Hainaut, 5th series, t. 3, 1891, pp. 1-137.
Biographie montoise, Mons, E. Hoyois, 1848.