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Surname Mather - Meaning and Origin

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Mather: What does the surname Mather mean?

The last name Mather is of English origin and has historical roots dating back to the Anglo-Saxon tribes that once ruled Britain. It is derived from the Old English term "moethere," meaning "mower" or "reaper," which was an occupational name for a mower of hay or reaper of crops. Thus, a person with the surname Mather would have been associated with farming and agriculture, symbolizing the profession of the individual or their ancestors. Like many surnames that began as job descriptions, Mather evolved over time to become a family name as we understand them today. There are also alternative spellings such as Mayther, Mather, and Maither. While it is prevalent in England, the surname is also quite common in the United States, largely due to Increase Mather and his son, Cotton Mather, who were influential figures in the early Puritan colonies.

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Mather: Where does the name Mather come from?

The surname Mather has its origins in ancient England. Derived from the old English word "moethere", it literally means "mower". It was a name given to a mower of hay or corn, usually referring to a farmer, indicating its occupational origin.

This name advanced through different periods, including the Anglo-Saxon era, the Middle Ages and the Post-medieval period. It was first recorded in Essex with one William le Mether in the year 1274. Global distributions of the Mather surname suggest that it is more prevalent in England, the United States, and Australia, with England having the highest number of people bearing the Mather surname.

In the USA, it gained prominence due to Increase Mather and his son Cotton Mather, who were influential puritan ministers in colonial Boston. Cotton Mather is particularly known for his involvement in the Salem Witch Trials. However, due to the common ancestry and continued diaspora, this surname can also be found across other parts of the world including Canada, New Zealand, Scotland and South Africa, thus making it fairly global in its distribution.

Variations of the surname Mather

The surname Mather is thought to be of English origin and is derived from an old occupation, specifically that of a mowar or mower, someone who mowed hay or grass. It could also be derived from an anglicization of the Welsh word "Maethar", meaning a farmer or husbandman.

Different variants, spellings and surnames of the same origin for Mather include Mathers, Mether, Matherly, and Matheron. Similar surnames that could potentially be of shared origin include Matheson, Mathew, and Matthias, although these could also be derived from the name Matthew and may not be directly related to Mather.

It's important to note that surnames often underwent considerable variation in spelling until the modern era due to various factors such as changes in language and spelling conventions, regional dialects, and transcription errors. For example, someone could have originally had the surname Mather but it could have changed to Mathers due to a transcription error or dialectal pronunciation. Thus, surnames with similar spellings or sounds could potentially share the same origin, even if they are not immediately obvious. Always consider the historical and geographical context when researching the origins of a surname.

Famous people with the name Mather

  • Cotton Mather: a Puritan minister and renowned influential author in colonial America.
  • Increase Mather: a Puritan minister, minister of the Old North Church in Boston, and father of Cotton Mather.
  • Increase Mather Jr.: a minister who was active in the American Revolution.
  • Samuel Mather: a US Congressman from Ohio who later became a judge.
  • Stephen Mather: a conservationist, businessman, and 1st director of the National Park Service.
  • Jared Mather: a US Representative from Massachusetts and a naval veteran during the War of 1812.
  • Ralph Mather: professor emeritus of psychology at Harvard and member of the National Academy of Science.
  • Richard Mather: an early Puritan leader and an influential Opponent of the Church of England.
  • Seth Mather: an early American clergyman who served as president of Harvard College from 1721 to 1724.
  • Janet Mather: an English author and co-founder of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
  • Roger Mather: a renowned architect who was elected to the American Institute of Architects Hall of Fame.
  • Nathan Mather: a philanthropist, patriot, and one of the founders of the University of Chicago.
  • Isaac Mather: an American moral philosopher, minister, and professor at Yale College.
  • Herbert Mather: an American artist and illustrator, notable for his illustrations of Maine and New England.
  • Caleb Mather: a founding pastor of the Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in New York City.
  • Benjamin Mather: a merchant, financiers, and the treasurer of the Province of New York.
  • Durland Mather: a US Senator from Pennsylvania and a member of US President Rutherford B. Hayes' cabinet.
  • John Mather: a Canadian Painter, noted for his landscape paintings of the Canadian Rockies.
  • William Mather: an American clergyman and missionary to the Wyandot Nation in Ohio.
  • ventriloquist Jeff Dunham: known for his ventriloquism acts featuring his character Achmed the Dead Terrorist, whose last name is Mather.

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