Nathaniel Mather (1669 - 1688)

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Birthplace: MA
Death: Died in Salem, MA
Managed by: Michael Reid Delahunt, art teacher & lexicographer
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About Nathaniel Mather

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Following is "Sibley's Harvard graduates: 1678-1689," Volume 3, Number 21, April, 1884, pp 321-23.

By Massachusetts Historical Society, downloaded 2010 from http://books.google.com/

NATHANIEL MATHER.

Born 1669, died 1688, aged 19.

Nathaniel Mather, M. A., born 6 and baptized 11 July, 1669, son of Increase Mather, Harvard University 1656, passionately fond of books from childhood, "became an Instance of unusual Industry and no Common Piety; so that when he dyed . . . Octob. 17, 1688," at Salem, at less than twenty years of age, his brother Samuel, Harvard University 1690, wrote: "He has bin for his Years a great Scholar, but a better Christian." His brother Cotton, H. U. 1678, states that "it may be truly written on his Grave, Study kill'd him." As early as 1674, he was "twice sick of a Feaver." "The Common Effects of such a Pious Education, as the Family in which he lived afforded unto him, were seen even in his Childhood." "His weak Body would not bear the Toils and Hours, which he used himself unto; and his Neglect of Moderate Exercise" followed by indigestion, produced such effects that by the "time sixteen Winters had snow'd upon him, he began to be distempered, with many Pains and Ails, especially in some of his Joynts, which at last were the Gates of Death unto him; not without such very afflictive Touches of Melancholy, too, as made him sometimes to write himself Deodatus Melancholicus." He drew up rules, with references to passages in the Scriptures, for regulating his thoughts, affections, speech, and work; and formed others into rhythms and hymns, "the singing of which might produce fresher and stronger Efforts of Soul towards the Thing that is good." Some of these, with various details of his religious experiences, are printed in the Magnalia.

At twelve years of age he entered college, and before many months "had accurately gone over all the Old Testament in Hebrew, as well as the New in Greek, besides his going through all the Liberal Sciences, before many other Designers for Philosophy do so much as begin to look into them."

In the first part of his Senior year in college, at the age of sixteen, he published anonymously, " 1685. | ——— | The Boston Ephemeris. | An | Almanack | Of Coelestial Motions of the Sun & | Planets, with some of the principal Aspects | For the Year of the Christian AEra | MDCLXXXV. | Being in our Account the second after | Leap-year, and from the Creation | 5634. | . . . | Fitted to the Meridian of Boston in New-England, | where the Artick Pole is elevated 42 gr. 21 m. | Boston, 1685." 16mo. pp. 16. Upon the title-page of this, in Judge Sewall's chirography, is "By Nath. Mather, Philom."

In the following year he published another with his name and the same title, except in the adaptation of it to the year 1686. On this Judge Sewall wrote, "Recd Xr. 25. 1685." On one issued by S. D. [Samuel Danforth] the same year, Judge Sewall writes respecting the eclipse of 19 November, "As to ye Eclips, see Sir Mather's Almanack." "The above acct of ye Eclipse . .. was truer by much than Mr. Mathers."

In both of the almanacs the years begin with March. Each of them contains accounts of astronomical discoveries by means of the telescope, "which may seem strange and vulgar minds are unapt to believe them; but they are real truths."

At his graduation he gave "a good Account of the Academical Affairs among the ancient Jews," in the Hebrew language, which "was become so Familiar with him, as if. . . he had apprehended, it should quickly become the only Language, which he should have Occasion for." On taking his second degree, after seven years in the College, he "maintained for his Position, Datur vacuum; and by his Discourses upon it (as well as by other Memorials and Experiments left behind him in Manuscripts) he gave a Specimen of his Intimate Acquaintance with the Corpuscularian (and only right) Philosophy. By this time he . . . was admirably capable of arguing about, almost every Subject that fell within the Concernments of a Learned Man."

S. Sewall, in his Diary, 25 September, 1688, writes: "Visit Mr. Nath'l Mather sick at Salem at Mr. Swinertons." On his gravestone at Salem were inscribed the words: "The Ashes of an hard Student, a good Scholar, — and a great Christian."

Authorities. — Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections, xxxviii. 672. C. Mather, Magnalia, IV. 11. x. 208; VI. Appendix, 86. New England Historical and Genealogical Register, ii. 11; vi. 20. J. Savage, Genealogical Dictionary, iii. 173. S. Sewall, Manuscript Diary; and in Massachusetts Historical Society's Collections, xlv. 227.

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Nathaniel Mather's Timeline

1669
July 6, 1669
MA
July 11, 1669
1688
October 17, 1688
Age 19
Salem, MA