Increase Mather

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Increase Mather
BirthplaceDorchester, Massachusetts
Minister and author

Increase Mather (1639-1723)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The oldest son of Richard Mather, an English Puritan minister, Increase Mather was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on June 21, 1639. He graduated from Harvard in 1656 and from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1658. He then ministered to various congregations in England before returning to Boston in 1661. The following year he married Maria, the daughter of the Reverend John Cotton.

Mather took a leading role when King Charles II demanded that Massachusetts surrender its original charter, by which the citizens elected their own governor. He went on to work against the royal governor Sir Edmund Andros. In 1688 Mather went to London to try to reacquire the old colonial charter, and he remained there for four years. There he met with James II, William III, Queen Mary, and a number of influential politicians. Unsuccessful in regaining the old charter, Mather worked for a new one and was instrumental in getting Sir William Phips appointed as the new governor.

Mather was concerned about what he saw as the decline of religion in New England. He started collecting examples of what he termed God's "illustrious providences," or works to demonstrate the real existence of apparitions, spirits, and witches. In this way he hoped to convince skeptics of the existence of the supernatural and to encourage them as Puritans and Pilgrims. He published the collection as An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences (Boston, 1684). The essay contained an account of the Tedworth Drummer and of various pacts with Satan, and it became something of a best-seller.

Mather became pastor of Boston's North Church and also served as president of Harvard from 1685 to 1701, eventually losing that position due to his political stand on the Massachusetts charter. His son, Cotton Mather, was prominent during the Salem Witch Trials, although Increase kept a low profile. In the recriminations after the scare, he did side with what he saw as a volume of evidence against the accused, although he called for greater caution and published Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating Men; Witchcrafts, Infallible Proofs of Guilt in Such as Are Accused with the Crime (Boston, 1693).

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
Even political power -- as in the case of Increase Mather -- was within the grasp of a successful priest.
It all began at Harvard University in 1692, when the Ivy League school gave the first honourary degree in the United States to Puritan Clergyman Increase Mather. However, honourary degrees had been granted for over 200 years before this (the University of Oxford gave out its first honourary degree in the 1470s).
Little John became Big John thanks to Increase Mather's son.
According to Laura Chmielewski, the phrase "the spice of popery" was coined by Puritan minister Increase Mather [1639-1723] to describe and decry the contamination of Puritan orthodoxy by various heresies.
Recalling the loss of colonial population during that time, Increase Mather succinctly summed up the situation: "Since the year 1640, more persons have removed out of New England, than have gone thither." Increase was, in fact, one of those Harvard graduates who hoped for an illustrious career in England during the 1650s, the decade when the reverse migration from the colonies surged.
She claims that the men who were involved in the composition, transcription, and/or production of both narratives, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather, use representations of female captivity to assert a male Creole identity that authorized their political authority and legitimacy.
Cotton Mather (1663-1728) and his father Increase Mather (1639-1723), who held the offices of First and Second Preacher in Boston, were prominently involved in the witch hunt.
Robert Boyle was a friend Increase Mather and undoubtably conversations between Increase and his son had an influence on Cotton's thinking.
Cotton Mather Erik Lochtefeld Increase Mather Graeme Malcolm Rev.
Among the authors whose works are reproduced are John Smith, John Winthrop, William Penn, Thomas Budd, Increase Mather, Benjamin Franklin, John Cotton, Cotton Mather, and Thomas Pownall.
Hutchinson used Goffe's personal journals, letters, and other papers, which he had obtained from Increase Mather, a prominent Puritan minister and first president of Harvard University.
On October 19, Increase Mather, a minister from Boston who had himself overseen witch trials, visited the Salem jail.

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