Facts and Events
"Mr. Mather wrote a very great number of letters to his brother, Rev. Dr. Increase Mather of Boston, which are published in the Massachusetts Historical Collections. In these letters he often alludes to his wife, but never to any children, and it is probably the fact he never had any. We find an early record of Nathaniel, which may be of interest to the young Mathers of to-day, and possibly they may desire a similar experience.
Rev. Richard Mather (his father) had in his congregation in Liverpool Quartermaster Smith's family, who decided to come to America with their pastor, who started from Warrington near Lowton for Bristol to take the ship 'James' for this country on May 23, 1635. On the way to the ship. Nathaniel, then five years of age, and Mary Smith, the same age, the daughter of the above Smith, were put in panniers, and rode on horseback to Bristol. We are not told what was the conversation that passed between them on their journey, probably it was not the same as it would have been had they grown to maturer age. as the sequel shows. Mary in later years became the second wife of Gov. Hinckly of Massachusetts, and Nathaniel, the husband of Maria, the daughter of Rev. Dr. Wm. Benn of England.
The attachment of Rev. Nathaniel Mather to his youngest brother, Rev. Dr. Increase Mather of Boston, is shown to have been very great in the numerous letters he wrote to him, and of the tender and loving spirit they all bore.
Increase was very anxious to procure a portrait of his brother Nathaniel. The latter, in a letter dated March 2, 1680-1, says he can find only one artist that can do it for him, and he charges ten pounds for it, and says he can hardly afford to pay so much; but if he can find one more reasonable will have one taken to gratify him.
On the 7th day, 9th month, 1683, Nathaniel writes to his brother, 'I have sent you my picture.'
Nathaniel Mather graduated at Harvard College in the year 1647 at the age of 17.
He went to England, where his brother Samuel had gone before him, and in 1656 was presented by the Protector, Cromwell, to a living in Barnstable, where he continued until the Bartholomew act in 1662, when he was ejected. He then went to Rotterdam in Holland, where he became a minister over an English congregation. Upon the death of his brother Samuel in Dublin, 1671, he was invited to go to Dublin and take his brother's place. We are not told how long a period he remained in Dublin. From Dublin he went to London, where he was a preacher the rest of his life. He was settled over a congregation in Lime Street, London, and was one of the lecturers at Pinner's Hall. He died July 26, 1697, aged 67, and was interred in Bunnhill fields. 'On his tombstone, the traveler may still read a long Latin inscription, prepared by Dr. Watts, which ascribes to him a high character for genius, learning, piety, and ministerial fidelity.'
I visited Bunnhill fields in 1887 to see the stone, but the sexton could not find it. Doubtless the nearly two centuries that have elapsed since his burial had allowed the 'tooth of time' to efface the record. I had, however, the satisfaction of seeing the altar-tomb of John Bunyan (1628-1688) and the tomb of Dr. Isaac Watts (1674-1748), a modern pyramid of Daniel DeFoe (1661-1731), the author of Robinson Crusoe, and the stones of other celebrated non-conformists.
Nathaniel Mather's works that were published were few compared to his brother Increase and his nephew Cotton."