Slate Gravestone for Nathanael Mather, 1688, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem.

An Aged person / that had seen but / Nineteen Winters / in the World. Hawthorne, a frequent visitor to Salem's Charter Street burial ground, used the epitaph for Nathanael Mather, the son of Rev. Increase Mather,in his story Fanshawe. Historian Sidney Perley wrote the following about Mather: “Nathaniel Mather was son of Rev. Increase and Maria Mather of Boston, where he was born July 6, 1669. His father was president of Harvard College; and two of his brothers were Reverends Cotton and Samuel Mather. He entered Harvard at the age of twelve, and took his first degree at the age of sixteen, when he gave a Hebrew oration, so great a scholar had he become at that tender age. His acquaintance with general literature and science of those times was extraordinary; and he excelled in mathematics, classics and theology. He was a hard student and a good scholar, but too close application, probably without relaxation, produced ill health. At the age of fourteen, he dedicated himself to God. His dedication consisted of devotion to prayer for personal sanctity, and he deliberated so much and so seriously that had became morbid and melancholy. He had taken his second degree at college just before his death. He had contracted ill habits of posture of body, which, persisted in, produced effects which made him appear like an old man. He died in Salem Oct. 17, 1688, at the age of nineteen, and was buried in the Charter Street burying ground, where his gravestone still stands. It is said that his brother Cotton wrote the epitaph upon it….“ (Sidney Perley, The History of Salem, Massachusetts, Vol. 3, pp. 231-32.)
(Photography by Joseph R. Modugno) close window