Mather, Cotton

Cotton Mather was the son of noted Boston theologian Increase Mather (1639-1723). Cotton Mather was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1663, and educated at Harvard College. He served with his father in the ministry of Boston's North Church from 1685 until his father's death and was sole pastor there until his own death in 1728. He was an instigator of the Salem witch trials in 1692. He authored a number of treatises on witchcraft: "Memorable Providence Relating to Witchcraft," "Possessions," and "Wonders of the Invisible World" (1693). He is said, in Lovecraft's stories, to have watched Miss Pickman hanged on Gallows Hill in Salem in 1692. He was consulted on the owner of the Witch House of Arkham but could not explain the curves and angles smeared on Keziah Mason's cell in some red, sticky fluid after her escape.

Despite his involvement with persecuting innocent people as witches he was also a scientist, biographer, historian, and theologian. He wrote such works as "Magnalia Christi Americana: or the Ecclesiastical History of New England from its First Planting" (1702) and "Essays to Do Good" (1710). With American physician Zabdiel Boylston (1679-1766) he championed inoculations against smallpox in 1721 and did much to conquer public fear of the practice.

("The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," "Dreams in the Witch House," "In the Vault," "Pickman's Model," "The Picture in the House," and "The Unnamable")

See also: Magnalia Christi Americana, Memorable Providence Relating to Witchcraft, Possessions, and Wonders of the Invisible World