1723 Will of Rev. Increase Mather: Releasing Spaniard

Increase Mather was born 21 June 1639 in Dorchester, Suffolk, Massachusetts. He was the son of Rev. Richard Mather, who left Lancashire, England to settle in Massachusetts.

Increase Mather was a highly educated man, attaining the title of Reverend and Doctor. He published numerous articles, sermons and books. Reverend Mather not only graduated from Harvard, he served as its president. He was an influential Boston minister and a force for moderation of actions during the Salem witchcraft hysteria.

However, the man called the Last Puritan was also a slaveholder.

Reverend Doctor Increase Mather died on 23 August 1723 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Several years before he died, he added a codicil to his lengthy will.

Probate File of Rev. Increase Mather, 1723
Suffolk County, MA Probate File #4791
Source: American Ancestors

I do hereby signify to my Executor:

That it is my Mind and Will that my Negro Servant Called Spaniard Shall not be Sold after my decease; but I do then give him his Liberty: Let him then be Esteemed a free negro. June 4 1719

It appears that Spaniard was given to Increase Mather by his son, Cotton Mather, who also owned a slave named Onesimus, possibly in the 1690s. Spaniard likely came to Massachusetts from the West Indies and possibly from an island where Spanish was spoken, like Cuba.

Freed slaves lived and worked in the community, but left little in the way of written records unless problems developed. What became of Spaniard after Increase Mather’s death, I have not been able to find out.

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