Mather, Increase (DNB00)
MATHER, INCREASE, D.D. (1639–1723), president of Harvard College, the youngest son of Richard Mather [q. v.], was born in 1639 at Dorchester, Massachusetts, and graduated M.A. at Harvard in 1656, and became fellow. In 1657 he came to England, and from Lancashire proceeded to Dublin, where his brother Samuel [q. v.] was then settled. Entering Trinity College, he was admitted M.A. in 1658; with his graduation exercises ‘the scholars were so pleased that they humm'd him, which was a compliment to which he was a stranger in his education in New England’ (Calamy). Possibly it was an Irish custom of compliment, for at Cambridge, in 1623, ‘they hummed’ in sign of ‘distast’ (Heywood and Wright, Cambridge Univ. Transactions, 1854, ii. 315). He was chosen fellow of Trinity, but did not accept the appointment. Returning to England, he was substitute, on full salary, for John Howe [q. v.], at Great Torrington, Devonshire, till May 1659. He was then invited to Guernsey by Colonel Bingham, the governor; and preached for some time at Castle Cornet and St. Peter's Port. He removed to Gloucester at the end of the year as assistant to James Forbes (1629?–1712) [q. v.], but returned to Guernsey shortly before the Restoration. On the appointment of Sir Hugh Pollard as governor he left Guernsey rather than conform; declining on the same ground a valuable English living. He returned to New England, and became minister of the New North Church, Boston, Massachusetts, where he was ordained on 27 May 1664. Mather is sometimes called the last of the ejected nonconformists (a distinction which belongs to Nathan Denton [q. v.], who was buried on 13 Oct. 1720); he was the last survivor of those included in Calamy's lists, but though officiating as a preacher he had no regular ministerial status at the date of the Uniformity Act.
His career in New England was one of great eminence. He presided at the Boston synod of 1680, and wrote the preface to the confession of faith then agreed upon. When Charles II, in October 1683, called upon the colony of Massachusetts to surrender its charter, Mather attended a public meeting of the freemen of Boston, and procured a unanimous refusal. He was elected president of Harvard College in 1684, having previously been rector. On the issue of James II's declaration for liberty of conscience (1687), Mather was deputed by the New England ministers to convey an address of thanks. He embarked for England on 7 April 1688, as the accredited agent from the colony, and was graciously received by James. On the arrival of William, Mather was introduced to him by Philip, fourth baron Wharton; he obtained the removal of Sir Edmund Andros [q. v.], governor of New England, gained an enlarged charter for Massachusetts colony, and embarking on 29 March 1692 with Sir William Phipps, the new governor, reached Boston on 14 May, and received the thanks of the colonial assembly on 8 June. He was made D.D. In 1701 he resigned the presidency of Harvard College, owing to the requirement of residence. He remained in his Boston charge, retaining his vigour till he had passed his eightieth year. He died on 23 Aug. 1723, and had a public funeral. His portrait, engraved by Hopwood ‘from an original painting in the possession of Mr. Townsend, Holborn,’ is given by Palmer, ‘Nonconformist's Memorial,’ 1802, ii. 245.
Calamy gives two lists (with few dates), of Increase Mather's many publications, most of them being sermons and religious pieces. Among those published in London are: 1. ‘A Discourse concerning the Mystery of Israel's Salvation,’ &c., 1669, 8vo. 2. ‘Some Important News about Conversion,’ &c., 1674, 8vo. 3. ‘A Brief History of the War with the Indians,’ &c., 1676, 4to. 4. ‘De Successu Evangelii apud Indos,’ &c., 1688, 12mo. 5. ‘Cases of Conscience concerning Witchcraft,’ &c., 1693, 4to. 6. ‘A Further Account of … New England Witches,’ &c., 1693, 4to; reprinted, 1862, 12mo. 7. ‘Two plain and practical Discourses’, &c., 1699, 12mo. 8. ‘The Order of the Churches in New England,’ &c., 1700, 12mo. In the ‘Philosophical Transactions Abridged,’ 1714, vi. 85, is his ‘Account of several Observations made in New England in 1712.’
Mather married the daughter of John Cotton (whose widow his father married), and had seven daughters and three sons. The eldest son, Cotton Mather (1663–1728), D.D. (Glasgow, 1710) and F.R.S. (1714), who was born at Boston, Massachusetts, on 12 Feb. 1663, entered Harvard College at the age of twelve, and became a master of many languages, including Iroquois; from May 1684, as minister at Boston, he was a leading spirit in civil as well as ecclesiastical matters; he was the author of 383 publications; his most curious piece, which does little credit either to his understanding or his charity, is (1) ‘The Wonders of the Invisible World, being an Account of the Trial of several Witches,’ &c., 1693, 4to; his most valuable work is (2) ‘Magnalia Christi Americana, or An Ecclesiastical History of New England,’ &c., 1702, fol., in which the information, indispensable though often imperfect, is overloaded with ill-regulated pedantry; he died at Boston on 13 Feb. 1728; his third wife was Lydia, daughter of Samuel Lee (1625–1691) [q. v.]
Increase Mather's younger sons were Nathaniel Mather (d. 17 Oct. 1688, aged 19); and Samuel Mather, presbyterian minister at Witney, Oxfordshire, author of ‘A Discourse concerning the Godhead of the Holy Ghost,’ 1719, 8vo, and other tracts.
[Memoirs, with preface by Calamy, 1725 (portrait); Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana, 1702, iv. 137; Calamy's Account, 1713, p. 317; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, i. 494 sq.; Samuel Mather's Life of Cotton Mather, 1729; Hutchinson's Hist. of Massachusets-Bay, 1765, pp. 337 sq., 388 sq.]