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THE EARLY MATHER FAMILY
The Mather Family has a long history in New England and is traced back to Lowton, Lancaster, England. The Reverend Richard Mather (1596-1669) and his wife, Catherine, and four children, Samuel, Timothy, Nathaniel and Joseph, traveled to New England on the James in 1635, fifteen years after the Mayflower set sail. They were part of the very first mass immigration to America in what would later be called The Great Migration taking place between 1630 and 1635. Over that time some 20,000 people, mostly Puritans seeking relief from the persecution of King Charles, left England bound for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Mather family established a homestead in Dorcester near Boston and quickly became part of the religious community there.
After their arrival in America, Richard and his new wife Sarah, who he married in 1656, had two more sons, the youngest being Increase Mather. Increase Mather, and his son, Cotton, were Harvard-educated Puritan ministers. They were both well known intellectuals. They were also known for their involvement in the Salem Witch Trials in 1692-93.
Richard and Catherine’s son, Timothy, born in 1628, is the great-great grandfather of Deacon Joseph Mather. Unlike four of his brothers, Timothy did not become a minister. To this day, his descendants refer to him as “The Farmer Mather.” His son, Richard, moved to Lyme, Connecticut where he established a family farm. Richard named his son, Timothy after his grandfather. Captain Timothy served with the colonists in the wars with the Pequot Indians. His son, Moses Mather, grew up on the family farm, but was not destined to become another Mather farmer. He enrolled at Yale in New Haven and graduated in 1739 and became a Congregational Minister.
In 1739 Moses struck out to what was then Stamford, Connecticut, in an area now known as Darien. Moses had broken from the long standing Puritanism of his ancestor as had many New England clergy seeking greater freedom of religious expression and was ordained a Congregational Minister. He built a farmhouse in Darien and shortly thereafter was installed as the pastor of the First Congregational Church in Darien that had been erected in 1740. During his 60 year tenure as the pastor of the First Congregational Church, Moses was an outspoken early firebrand for the cause of independence.
Moses' son, Deacon Joseph Mather married Sarah Scott of Ridgefield and inherited approximately 100 acres from his mother in 1778 and built the Mather Homestead that we know today. In this house, Joseph and Sarah raised 11 children.
Three generations later, the home was owned by Stephen Mather, who we all know as the Founder of the National Park Service.
In 2017, Stephen's grandchildren, Anne Floy McPherson Tracy, Stephen Mather McPherson and Jane McPherson Nickerson, generously donated the Mather Homestead to the Mather Homestead Foundation in order for it to be preserved as a historical place for education and enjoyment.
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