Mather, Increase

Mather, Increase,

1639–1723, American Puritan clergyman, b. Dorchester, Mass.; son of Richard Mather. After graduation (1656) from Harvard, he studied at Trinity College, Dublin (M.A., 1658), and preached in England and Guernsey until the Restoration. After returning to Massachusetts (1661), he became (1664) pastor of North Church, Boston, and retained that position through his life. Cotton Mather, his son and colleague, cooperated with him in many of the affairs that occupied their busy lives. They were outstanding upholders of the old Puritan theocracy and of the established order in church and state. This conservatism led to trouble with the government during the Restoration period, and Increase Mather was a particularly bitter opponent of Edward RandolphRandolph, Edward,
c.1632–1703, English colonial agent in America. In 1676 he carried royal instructions to Massachusetts Bay that required the colony to send representatives to England to satisfy complaints of the heirs of John Mason (1586–1635) and Sir Ferdinando
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 and Sir Edmund AndrosAndros, Sir Edmund
, 1637–1714, British colonial governor in America, b. Guernsey. As governor of New York (1674–81) he was bitterly criticized for his high-handed methods, and he was embroiled in disputes over boundaries and duties (see New Jersey), going so far as
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 over the withdrawal of the Massachusetts charter and the conduct of the royal government. In 1688 he went to England to present the grievances of Massachusetts, and, after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the subsequent revolt in Massachusetts against Andros, he obtained a new charter that united Plymouth Colony with Massachusetts Bay Colony. Increase Mather looked with favor on the government of Sir William PhipsPhips, Sir William,
1651–95, American colonial governor. Born in what is today Maine, he was a carpenter and shipbuilder in Boston and became interested in sunken treasure.
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. After 1692 his influence declined somewhat, but he remained powerful to the end. He was president of Harvard College (1685–1701), but he was inactive and spent little time in Cambridge. His writing reflected the concerns of his career. Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits (1693), appearing soon after the Salem witch furor, denounced "spectral evidence" in witch trials. He also wrote a biography of his father (1670); A History of the War with the Indians (1676), written just after King Philip's War; and Remarkable Providences (1684), based on an earlier work by other writers.


See biography by K. B. Murdock (1925, repr. 1966); study by R. Middlekauff (1971); bibliography by T. J. Holmes (1931).

Mather, Increase

(1639–1723) religious leader, educator; born in Dorchester, Mass. He finished his education in Ireland (1658) and remained in England until the Stuart restoration (1660) made Puritanism uncomfortable there. He returned to Massachusetts and became the teacher of the Second Church of Boston (1664–1723) and the president of Harvard (1685–1701). He protested the revocation of the Massachusetts charter (1684), led negotiations for a new charter, and nominated Sir William Phips as the first royal governor. After 1701 he left the political arena, but he remained an important leader of New England Congregationalism. He wrote approximately 130 books and pamphlets on history, science, and politics.
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The son of Richard Mather, a leader in the establishment of the Congregational Church in America, and father of Cotton Mather, Increase Mather was a well - known preacher, served as president of Harvard College (1685 - 1701), and played an important part in the Salem witchcraft trials, though he criticized the extremism of the trials in Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits (1693).