A Look Back to That Middle Name...
An Appreciation of Stephen Higginson Tyng
September 16th, 2019
Visitors to the Homestead know that Stephen Mather’s middle name was Tyng. But who was Tyng and what was the connection?
On 27 June 1864, Stephen’s father, Joseph Wakeman Mather was married to Bertha Jemima Walker at St. George Episcopal Church in Stuyvesant Square, New York, by the Reverend Stephen Higginson Tyng.
Stephen Tyng (1 March 1800-3 September 1885) was considered to be one of the most notable preachers of the time and leader in the evangelical party of the Episcopal Church. A biography of his life, “Record of the Life and Work of the Rev. Stephen Higginson Tyng and History of St. George’s Church, New York” was written by his youngest son and published by E.P. Dutton & Co. in 1890.
Educated at Harvard, Tyng became rector of St. George’s in 1845 and remained there until retiring in 1878. The Church’s history states: “It was one of our rectors, The Rev. Stephen Tyng who converted J.P. Morgan to Christianity…” The Episcopal Church history records that Stephen Tyng “made St. George’s Church a pioneer parish in missionary work among the poor.”
In addition to his daughter Bertha’s marriage, Edward Walker’s two sons were married at St. George by Reverend Tyng, as was Edward Walker’s granddaughter, Alice Sophia Walker, in 1873.
Less than a year-and-a-half after Joseph and Bertha’s wedding, St. George Church burned. Tyng was instrumental in the rebuilding and redesign of the edifice and its interior.
Perhaps as Stephen Tyng and Stephen Tyng Mather are both remembered for their lasting legacies, it is equally fitting that St. George’s Church and the Mather Homestead are both now recognized as National Historic Landmarks.
AN UPDATE…AND A MYSTERY SOLVED?
An earlier Mather Memento looked at a framed lithograph by Francis d’Avignon that hung on the east wall of the Homestead attic. The subject’s identity remained a
question. That question may, at last, be answered.
On the back of the lithograph in the Homestead attic is handwritten “Mr. E.
Walker. Frame 15 x 19” We know that Edward Walker’s children were married by Reverend Tyng. The Walkers had a deep commitment to St. George’s Church. On page 435 of the biography of Reverend Tyng, it is noted that in the restoration after
the fire “The books, seventeen in number, for the Chancel use, were the gift of Edward and Sophia Ann Walker, in memory of Mrs. Dorothy Sheddall, the mother of Mrs. Walker.” Additionally, Edward Walker made a $1000.00 contribution to rebuilding St. George’s Church (Page 678) The lithographer of the attic portrait was Francis d’Avignon (1813-1871) and he was active during the same years as Reverend Tyng’sministry at St. George’s (1845-1878).
Given the resemblance, the similar collars, as well as the Walker family
connection to Reverend Tyng, it is more than likely that the Homestead
attic resident is indeed the Right Reverend Stephen Higginson Tyng.