Another family legend - Cotton Mather

Today's family legend is one that is told for my wife's side of the family.  For a while now we've heard the story that the famous Reverend Cotton Mather is related into her ancestry.  There may be some truth to this, but we have yet to prove it.

Cotton Mather circa 1700. The Wikimedia commons description page for this image asserts that it is in the public domain.
Reverend Cotton Mather was born on 12 February 1663 as the son of Increase Mather (b. 21 June 1639; d. 23 August 1723) and Maria Cotton.  There are a few references that I can find that mention a niece to Cotton Mather named Lucinda Mather.  Such a notation is made in American Ancestry; volume I, the city of Albany by Thomas P. Hughes in 1887 (page 71) and also in Genealogical and Personal Memoirs ... of Massachusetts; volume IV by William Richard Cutter and William Frederick Adams in 1910 (page 2280).  Both of these books state that she married David Shepard (b. 1744; d. 1817 or 1819) and explicitly state that Lucinda was Cotton's niece.  In American Ancestry, there is further evidence of a Shepard/Mather connection in the use of Mather as a recurring middle name within the Shepard family.

Our family records show Lucinda Mathers (sic) married to James Goodhue, with their daughter Mary Jane Goodhue born in Albany in 1819.  Some of the family papers suggest that Lucinda's father was named Eli Mathers and then go on to suggest that Cotton Mathers (sic) was Eli's father.  The eras between the Lucinda Mathers in our family records and Lucinda Mather in the above noted references seem to loosely coincide, and it is entirely possible that James Goodhue was a second husband for Lucinda after David Shepard's death.  What I haven't seen so far is any connection between Increase Mather and Eli Mathers; if the legend holds and the two women are the same, then Eli should be a son of Increase.

Is our family's Lucinda Mathers really the same woman as the aforementioned Lucinda Mather, niece of Reverend Cotton Mather?  Clearly more proof is needed to make this connection.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I've just stumbled upon this post regarding my 5 time great-grandmother, Lucinda Mather. Truth is, despite the families frequent insistence, she was more like a distant cousin several times removed. She did have a brother named Cotton, but he isn't the famous one. Also, Lucinda never remarried after the death of her husband. Good luck on your searches!

-Jacob S.
Boston, MA