149 Biographical Notes on Increase Mather

    [ca. 1707]

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    • Dr. Mather ordained at the North, May 27, 1664 (His Life by Sam. p. 14).
    • Dr. Mather chose President soon after Mr. Oaks’s Death (Parent. p. 58) in the Year 1681 (Parent. 169).
    • Anno. 1683 ad fin. The Declaration from King Charles arrives demanding a full submission and resignation of our Charter or a Quo Warranto would be issued out against it. Randolph was sent over with this. Such submission and resignation of it was refused. Parent. 90.
    • Oct. 1684. The New England Charter was taken away. Neal, vol. 2, c. 9, p. 416. Col. Kirk who did such Executions afterwards in the West, had a Commission, with a Regiment, to be our Governour; but before He came over, King Charles Dies Feb. 6, 1682. And it expires. Parent, p. 97. Simon Bradstreet was the last Governour under our Old Charter (and after the Committee of Safety in April 1689 had on the Revolution here kept things in order till an Assembly was called. That Assembly in May 1689 put him into his Governourship again till Sir William came Governour. Neal, Vol. 2, p. 417, 445, 449, 557).
    • 1686. King James appoints Joseph Dudly as President and a Council, to Govern the Colony; but the People soon deposed Him and sent him a Prisoner to England. Neal, vol. 2, p. 420, 434.
    • 1686. June the 3d Edmund Andross appointed, and came over that Year Governour arbitrary with 4 of the Council, to Do what he pleased. Neal, vol. 2, p. 420.
    • Randolph [Secretary?] from this Time and seized in the [Revolution?]. Parent, art. 21, and Neal vol. 2, p. 430.
    • 1688 Apr. 7. Dr. Mather sails for England—while Rector of the College. Parent. 108, 121.
    • 1691. Oct. 7 Anno regnis Guil. and Mar. 3 our new Province Chartergranted.
    • Sir William Phips appointed the first Governour and Mr. W. Stoughton Deputy Governour under this new Charter.
    • 1692. May 14 Sir William and Dr. Mather arrive again at Boston. Par. 155,6 and Neal vol. 2, p. 481.
    • 1694. Nov. 17 Sir William embarks for England and dies in England Feb. 18, 1694/5. In his absence Deputy Governour Stoughton was cheif till Neal, vol. 2, p. 544,5.
    • 1698. May. Lord Bellemont arrives at New York, Governour of New York and New England, and in the spring following 1699 meets the General Assembly at Boston—and
    • 1698. Aug. returns to New York and made that the Place of his residence as long as he lived. Continuing Mr. Stoughton in the Place of Leutenant Governour to manage the affairs of N. E. in his absence.

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    • 1681. Dr. Mather chose President; he discharged his Trust with Diligence and a fidelity in his weekly visits to the Society, which found a general acceptance. His church refusing to relinquish their right in him he declined for awhile to do the Part of a President and got another chosen1 on whose Death in 1684 the Overseers with the Fellows devolved his former care upon him; desiring him to act as Praeses pro tempore, till a further settlement could be procured. In that statu he was found when the charter of the Colony was destroyed but they into whose Hands the Government of the territory fell, changing his Title from Praeses into Rector, continued him in the Government of the College.

    [In margin:] vacated. A new Pro tempore government being appointed, the chief Person was called President who thereon gave the title of rector to him who governed the College. But on the settlement at Sir William Phips’s accession to the Government, the former title president was used. Sam’s Life of his Father Increase p. 66.

    On his return to N.E. one of the first things he did was to obtain from the General Assembly of the Province (when in England he was advised to, when he began there to move towards obtaining a charter from the King for that purpose) an Act for the incorporation of the College upon a larger Foundation than the former settlement. By this Act the College was enabled among other things, to confer Degrees, which could not by its former charter be pleaded to, and particularly to create Bachelours and Drs. in Divinity. At this time and while that Act was yet in force, this University (as now it was) presented to her President a Diploma for a Doctorate, under their Seal with the Hands of the Fellows annexed which being first and sole instance of such a thing done in the whole English America I shall here transcribe.2

    Quum Gradus Academicos tarn in Theologiâ quam in Philosophiâ pro more academiarum in Anglia, Conferendi Potestas ab amplissimo gubernatore et a summâ Massachusettensis Curia, secundum serenissimi regis ac reginae Gul. et Mar. illis concessum Diplomay sit nobis commissa, et quoniam vir clariss. D. Crescentius Matherus Collegii H. in N.A. Praeses Reverendus—commendatissimum se reddidit; Propterea Dictum D. Cresc. Matherum Doctorali Cathedra dignum judicamus; eumque pro authoritate nobis commissa SS Theologia Doctorem Nominamus et renunciamus. In cuius rei testimonium etc. anno 1692 Nov. 7.

    some disaffected Men for some reasons (God knows what purpose) were willing to have the College taken out of his Hands. To accomplish it they obtained a Vote of the general assembly, which appeared of a plausible aspect; that no Man should act as President of the College who did not reside at Cambridge, The Leaders in this Vote knew very well that the Doctor would not remove his habitation from a loving People at Boston, to reside at Cambridge, while the College was [blank] as then it was. But yet his abdication was after all brought, I will but softly say, not so fairly as it should have been. I think there are thanks due to me for my forbearing to tell the story. This was in 1701. Twenty Years after

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    his beginning to serve as President . . . When the Dr. was upon the Resignation of his charge he preached Jun. 29, 1701 to the Scholars a Farewell Sermon on Col. 3.11 . . .

    Parent. 169–74.


    The Reverend Mr. Increase Mather had a further Honour done Him on this (the Part he had in securing the Province Charter) Occasion;* for it being provided in the New Charter that the general Assembly of said Province should have Power to Incorporate the College, and Invest it with Powers of conferring the Degrees of Masters of Arts and Doctors of Divinity on such as should merit them, the College had no sooner received their Charter from the General Assembly but they expressed their Acknowledgements to their President Mr. Mather by presenting Him with a Diploma of Dr. of Divinity, under the Seal of the College with the Hands of the Fellows annexed to it, bearing Date from Cambridge in N. E. Nov. 17, 1692.3

    * Mather, B. [A.p. 134?]

    Neal, vol. 2, p. 487.

    From Sams Life of his Father

    Mr. Mather as soon as it could be done obtained an Act of the General Assembly (which is in that Province, as the Parliament is in Great Britain) for Incorporating the College; and it was done on a larger foundation than the former Settlement. By this Act the College was Enabled, among other Things, to confer Degrees (which the preceeding Charter could not pretend to, beyond that of Bachelour and Master of Arts) such as that of Bachelour and Doctor in Divinity. The Act being past (which by their Charter the General Assembly had Authority to pass) The University did offer a Diploma, under their Seal, for a Doctorate to their President, with the Hands of the Fellows annexed. (Then it follows) p. 67.

    Dr. I. M. born Jun. 21, 1639. At 12 years old admitted into College (i.e. July or Aug. 1651, which fairs in with what follows, if compared with the Catalogus!) Having been the usual Time at the College there was—(for I know not what Reasons of State, an Order procured, saies Parentator, p. 14) a strong order from the Higher Powers requiring that this Class should be detained a year longer than of Right they ought. This was a Provocation to 17 of the Scholars (some of whom proved Men of the first Rank) to withdraw from the College without being graduated, deeply resenting such an unaccountable Indignity. Mr. Mathers Father tho [troubled?] as divers others of the Curatores Academiae were (at this hardship on the Students-Parentator, p. 14.) yet advised his Son not to take his Name out of the College Register as others had Done! Sam’s Life of his Father Increase p. 7.

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    From the life of Nathaniel Mather published 1689. And who dyed Oct. 1688 Dr. Increase Mather, Rector of H. College, p. 2, This Life was writ, Oct. 29, 1688, p. 59.

    I. Mather’s dedication of the Life of Mr. Mitchel to the Church of Cambridge, p. 25,6.

    College Papers, i. 40 (No. 89). These undated notes are filed with notes on the College Charters, prepared by Nathan Prince in 1742; see document in volume following. It is not certain that these were prepared by Prince, but they were evidently done after 1725, when Samuel Mather’s book appeared. However, they are placed under 1707, since that is the date when the College was finally settled under the Old Charter; the notes themselves do not extend beyond 1701. The books mentioned as sources are:

    Mather, Cotton. Parentator, Memoirs of Remarkables in the Life and Death of the Ever-Memorable Dr. Increase Mather . . . Boston, 1724.

    Mather, Samuel. Memoirs of the Life of the Late Reverend Increase Mather, D.D., Who Died August 25, 1723. London, 1725.

    Neal, Daniel. The History of New England . . . London, 1720. 2 vols.

    Volumes referred to on the last page of the document are:

    Mather, Cotton. Early Piety, Exemplified in the Life and Death of Mr. Nathanael Mather . . . 2d ed., London, 1689.

    Mather, Cotton. Ecclesiastes. The Life of the Reverend and Excellent, Jonathan Mitchel . . . Boston, 1697. Includes Dedicatory Epistle by Increase Mather.

    In reference to footnote 2 I am indebted to Daniel K. Clift for the following translation:

    Since the power of conferring Academic Degrees in Theology as well as in Philosophy in the custom of the Universities in England has been entrusted to us by the most honorable governor and the highest assembly of Massachusetts according to the diploma granted to them of the most blessed King and Queen, William and Mary, and since the most distinguished man, Master Increase Mather, Reverend President of the Harvard College of New England has rendered himself most commendable; therefore we judge said Master Increase Mather worthy of the doctoral chair; and in behalf of the authority entrusted in us we name and declare him Doctor of Theology of the Holy Scriptures. In testimony of this Act etc. in the year 1692 Nov. 7.