Authorised form of nameMather; Cotton (1663 - 1728)
Dates1663 - 1728
Date of birth12 February 1663
Date of death13 February 1728
Dates and placesBurial:
Copp's Hill Cemetery, Boston, Massachussetts, United States, North and Central America
OccupationClergyman, Congregational; slave owner
Boston Latin School; Harvard, BA (1678), MA (1681)
Assistant to his father at the Second Church in Boston (1680); ordained there (1685); remained there for the rest of his life; Overseer at Harvard; one of the ringleaders of the rebellion against Sir Edmund Andros, the Governor of Massachusetts (1688); Fellow of Harvard (1690-1703); his investigations into witchcraft led him to be associated with the Salem Trials, although he later condemned them as unjust; instrumental in securing Elihu Yale's benefaction to the Connecticut College later named after him; when smallpox broke out in Boston, he persuaded Zabdiel Boylston (FRS 1726) to use inoculation after testing the procedure on Boylston's youngest son and two enslaved people; Mather's attention was first drawn to innoculation by an account from Onesimus, an enslaved man in his service, who had been innoculated as a child in Africa; conducted one of the first recorded experiments with plant hybridization based on his observations of corn varieties, described in a letter to James Pettiver (FRS 1695) in 1716; author of more than 450 books and pamphlets on Puritan theology and morals.
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election27/07/1713
Age at election50
RelationshipsSon of Increase Mather, President of Harvard, and his wife, Maria Cotton.
Married: 1) Abigail, daughter of John Phillips of Charlestown; 2) Elizabeth Hubbard; 3) Lydia George
fathered 15 children , only two of whom outlived him
Published works
Bulloch's Roll; DAB
Niven, Steven J. (2013). "Onesimus (fl. 1706–1717), slave and medical pioneer, was born in the..." Hutchins center. Harvard College.
Mather was proposed by Richard Waller 23/7/1713 and approved by Council 27/7/1713, and appears to have been informed that he had been elected. In 1723 he wrote to ask if he was indeed a Fellow, as his name was not on the printed list. It was then discovered that he had not in fact been elected in 1713 and the matter was hastily put right (See LBC.15.75 informing Mather of his election, and a letter from Mather acknowledging this letter at MM.1.18)
Royal Society codeNA8409
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