Mather, William (DNB00)

MATHER, WILLIAM (fl. 1695), author of ‘The Young Man's Companion,’ was born at Bedford, and was a grandson of a mayor of Hull. He was a churchman, but about 1661 he and his wife joined the quakers. He became a teacher, and kept a private school in Bedford. He also held an appointment as surveyor of highways, and wrote a pamphlet ‘On Repairing and Mending the Highways,’ 1696, in which he is described as ‘late surveyor.’ Besse, under ‘Bedfordshire,’ mentions that one William Mather was imprisoned in 1683 on a writ in the ecclesiastical court.

Mather's chief work, ‘The Young Man's Companion,’ published 1681, contains, in very small compass, information on nearly every practical subject. It became extremely popular, and ran through twenty-four editions. To the fourth edition, 1695, are added some verses, and fourteen chapters written by Mather's son Samuel, a clever young man, who died at the age of twenty-two. The twelfth, eighteenth, and twenty-fourth editions received successively further additions and alterations.

Mather also wrote ‘An Instrument from that Little Stone cut out of the Mountain without Hands, to break in pieces that great Image,’ &c., 1694; and another pamphlet called ‘A Novelty,’ on women's preaching, and disapproving of the women's meetings for discipline, then just established in the society. He is also probably the author of ‘A Brief Character of the Antient and Christian Quakers,’ London, 1695. About 1695 Mather began to be dissatisfied with quakerism. In 1700 he published a broadside with cut ‘Of the Quakers despising the Holy Scriptures,’ and an answer to Wyeth's ‘Switch for the Snake.’ In the following year he published ‘A Vindication of William Mather and his Wife, who, having lived about forty years professed Quakers, have now renounced that persuasion and returned to the Communion of the Church of England.’ In this he states that he had no personal quarrel with the quakers.

[Mather's published works; Smith's Catalogue.]

C. F. S.