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Increase Mather

Born:
June 21, 1639
Dorchester, Massachusetts
Died:
August 23, 1723
Boston, Massachusetts
Father:
Richard Mather

Mother:
Katherine Holt
Brothers and Sisters:
Eleazer Mather
Timothy Mather
Samuel Mather
Nathaniel Mather
Joseph Mather
Spouse:
Maria Cotton
m. March 6, 1663
Boston, Massachusetts
Children:
Cotton Mather
Sarah Mather
Samuel Mather
Nathaniel Mather
Katherine Mather
Hannah Mather
Jerusha Mather
Mariah Mather
Elizabeth Mather
Abigail Mather
Spouse:
Anne Lake
m. May 26, 1715
Boston, Massachusetts
Children:
None

Additional Information:
"He pursued his studies under the Rev. John Norton of Boston, and was graduated from Harvard in 1656. He at once began preaching and delivered sermons in Dorchester, at his father's church. In 1657 he joined his brother Nathaniel in England. He was graduated from Trinity college, Dublin, A.M., 1658, and preached until his return to Boston, 1661. He married, in 1662, Maria, daughter of the Rev. John Cotton of Boston. On May 27, 1664, he became pastor of the North church, Boston, of which his brother Samuel (1626-71) had been the first pastor. During his pastorate the discussion arose as to the right of non-communicants to bring their children to baptism, and Mr. Mather united with President Chauncy and John Davenport in opposing the 'half-way covenant' established by the general synod, but he subsequently consented to it in a modified form. He was the prime mover of the 'Reforming Synod' called by the general court Sept. 10, 1678, to consider 'what are the evils that have provoked the Lord to bring his judgment on New England.' The judgments were: King Philip's war; the small-pox; the fires of 1676 and 1679, and a general falling away from the strict notions and habits of the first settlers. In 1681, upon the death of President Oakes of Harvard, he was offered and declined the presidency. He officiated, however, until the election of John Rogers in 1649, and upon Rogers's death, in 1685, he was requested by the overseers to act as president until further settlement could be made. In 1683, upon the threatened withdrawal of the charter of Massachusetts, he was formost in advocating its retention. The agents of the general court consequently became Mather's bitter enemies. He was selected as agent to lay the grievances of the colony before the king upon the annulment of the charter, and remained abroad as colonial agent, 1688-92. His expenses meanwhile greatly exceeded his compensation and he was obliged to pledge his property. The result of his labors was a charter uniting Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Maine, and the territory of Sagadahoc to the eastern extremity of Nova Scotia. Sir Williams Phips was nominated governor, and he with Mather returned to Boston, May 14, 1692. A vote of thanks was tendered him by the lower house for his faithful endeavors to serve his country. He was instrumental in promoting the union between the Presbyterians and Congregationalists; obtained a confirmation of the charter of Harvard college in 1685, and in 1692 he obtained from the general assembly an act incorporating the college. By this act, wherein Mather was made president, the college was enabled to confer degrees, particularly those of bachelor and doctor of theology. In 1701 he withdrew from the office and was succeeded by Samuel Willard. He devoted the remainder of his life to philanthropy and to literature. In April, 1715, he received a unanimous invitation from the ministers of the province to represent them at the coronation of King George I, but advancing years led him to decline. 'He had great faith in signs and prodigies,' and delivered discourses concerning earthquakes, inundations, wars and other calamitous events. He was also a firm believer in witchcraft, and assisted his son Cotton in publishing his books on the subject. He was married, secondly, in 1715, to Ann, daughter of Thomas Lake and widow of the Rev. John Cotton of Hampton. She died at Brookline, Mass., March 29, 1737. The honorary degree of D.D. was conferred on him by Harvard in 1692, it being the first degree of the kind conferred in America. He is the author of: Life and Death of Rev. Richard Mather (1670); Important Truths about Conversion (1674); A Discourse Concerning Baptism and the Consecration of Churches (1675); A History of the War with the Indians (1676, new ed., 1862); A Relation of Troubles of New England from the Indians (1677, new ed., 1864); Cometographia, or a Discourse Concerning Comets (1683); Remarkable Providences (1684, new ed., 1856); Several Papers Relating to the State of New England (1690); Dying Pastor's Legacy (1722). He died in Boston, Mass., Aug. 23, 1723."

--From The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans: Volume VII


References:
Ancestral File. AFN: 9CN5-CP
The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans: Volume VII

Last Updated:
23 August 1999

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