Mather, Increase

Mather, Increase
died Aug. 23, 1723, Boston

American Puritan leader.

The son of a Puritan cleric, he was educated at Harvard College and at Trinity College, Dublin. He returned to New England and served as minister of Boston's North Church (1661–1723). He and his son Cotton Mather lobbied successfully for the removal of the hated governor of Massachusetts, Edmund Andros, and obtained a new charter for the colony in 1691. He served as president of Harvard College (1685–1701). His writings include Case of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men (1693), which helped end the Salem witch trials. See also Puritanism.

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▪ American minister
born June 21, 1639, Dorchester, Massachusetts Bay Colony [U.S.]
died Aug. 23, 1723, Boston

      Boston Congregational minister, author and educator, who was a determining influence in the councils of New England during the crucial period when leadership passed into the hands of the first native-born generation. He was the son of Richard Mather, son-in-law of John Cotton, and father of Cotton Mather.

      He entered Harvard at the age of 12 and received his bachelor's degree at 17. At graduation, his attack on Aristotelian logic, basic to the Harvard curriculum, shocked the faculty and nearly resulted in his dismissal. On his 18th birthday he preached his first sermon in a village near his home and his second in his father's church in Dorchester. Soon he left for Dublin, where he entered Trinity College and received a master's degree the following June. At his commencement, he refused to wear a cap and gown, but the assembled scholars were so impressed with him that they hummed their approval of him. Chosen a fellow at Trinity, he refused the post. He preached at various posts in England and was at Guernsey when the Puritan Commonwealth ended and Charles II was proclaimed king (May 8, 1660). He refused to drink the king's health or sign papers expressing rejoicing. On the appointment of a new governor for Guernsey, unsympathetic to Nonconformists, Increase left a comfortable living and in a few months sailed for New England, where he became minister of North Church, Boston, in 1661, and married his stepsister, Maria Cotton, in 1662. Maria died in 1714, and in 1715 he married Ann Cotton, widow of his nephew John.

      In 1683 Charles delivered an ultimatum to the Massachusetts colonists: to retain their charter with absolute obedience to the king or to have it revoked. Before an assembly of freemen, Mather proclaimed that an affirmative vote would be a sin against God, for only to him should one give absolute obedience. The colonists refused submission, and the charter was subsequently revoked in 1686.

      While James II was king, in 1688, Mather was sent as the representative of the colonists to thank him for his declaration of liberty to all faiths. He remained in England for several years, and, on the accession of William and Mary in 1689, he obtained from them the removal of the hated governor of Massachusetts, Sir Edmund Andros (Andros, Sir Edmund), and his replacement by Sir William Phipps. Increase's petition for the restoration of the old charter proved unsuccessful, but he was able to get a new charter in 1691. Both the new governor and the new charter, however, turned out to be unpopular. In 1685 Increase had been made president of Harvard but resigned in 1701, in part because of opposition to the new colonial charter. He received the honorary degree of doctor of divinity in the same year.

      Among his books is An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences (1684), a compilation of stories showing the hand of divine providence in rescuing people from natural and supernatural disasters. Some historians suggest that this book conditioned the minds of the populace for the witchcraft hysteria of Salem (Salem witch trials) in 1692. Despite the fact that Increase and Cotton Mather believed in witches—as did most of the world at the time—and that the guilty should be punished, they suspected that evidence could be faulty and justice might miscarry. Witches, like other criminals, were tried and sentenced to jail or the gallows by civil magistrates. The case against a suspect rested on “spectre evidence” (testimony of a victim of witchcraft that he had been attacked by a spectre bearing the appearance of someone he knew), which the Mathers distrusted because a witch could assume the form of an innocent person. When this type of evidence was finally thrown out of court at the insistence of the Mathers and other ministers, the whole affair came to an end.

      Increase's Case of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men (1693) is a clear vindication of the Mathers' part in the witchcraft trials. Yet their enemies, such as William Douglass and Robert Calef, spread denigrating rumours about them. This enmity, together with the Mathers' part in a campaign for inoculation against smallpox and the failure of their protégé Phipps to measure up to expectations, contributed to the decline of the Mathers' influence in the last decade of the century. Changing times, more than anything else, had their impact; for people like the Mathers were losing touch with the younger generation.

Additional Reading
Kenneth B. Murdock, Increase Mather, the Foremost American Puritan (1925, reissued 1966); Michael G. Hall, The Last American Puritan: The Life of Increase Mather, 1639–1723 (1988).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Mather, Increase — (21 jun. 1639, Dorchester, colonia de la bahía de Massachusetts–23 ago. 1723, Boston). Líder puritano estadounidense. Hijo de un clérigo puritano, se educó en el Harvard Collage y en el Trinity College, de Dublín. Regresó a Nueva Inglaterra y fue …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Mather,Increase — Math·er (măthʹər), Increase. 1639 1723. American clergyman and writer. He and his son Cotton (1663 1728) exerted great theological and political influence on the colony of Massachusetts through their staunch Puritanism and prolific writing. * * * …   Universalium

  • Mather, Increase —    см. Мэзер, Инкриз …   Писатели США. Краткие творческие биографии

  • MATHER (I.) — MATHER INCREASE (1639 1723) La première génération de la Nouvelle Angleterre, celle de John Winthrop, de John Cotton, de Thomas Hooker, avait établi sur le continent américain une «Plantation» où l’on pût vivre conformément aux ordonnances du… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Increase Mather — Infobox Person name = Increase Mather image size = 220px caption = Increase Mather in 1688, when he was in London. Portrait by John van der Spriett birth date = birth date|1639|6|21|mf=y birth place = Dorchester, Massachusetts death date = death… …   Wikipedia

  • Mather — /madh euhr, math /, n. 1. Cotton, 1663 1728, American clergyman and author. 2. his father, Increase /in krees/, 1639 1723, American clergyman and author. * * * (as used in expressions) Greene Charles Sumner and Henry Mather Mather Cotton Mather… …   Universalium

  • Mather — (as used in expressions) Greene, Charles Sumner y Greene, Henry Mather Mather, Cotton Mather, Increase …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Increase Mather — Increase Mather, 1688, par John van der Spriett Increase Mather (21 juin 1639, Dorchester, Massachusetts, États Unis 23 août 1723, Boston, Massachusetts, États Unis), était un …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mather — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Ben Mather (* 1981), australischer Mountainbikefahrer Berkely Mather (1909–1996), englischer Schriftsteller Bruce Mather (* 1939), kanadischer Komponist Cotton Mather (1663–1728), puritanischer Geistlicher …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • MATHER (C.) — MATHER COTTON (1663 1728) Petit fils et de John Cotton et de Richard Mather, deux grands noms des premiers temps de la «Plantation du Seigneur» en Nouvelle Angleterre, Cotton Mather, né en 1663, l’année précédant l’installation de son père… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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