RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
Ref NoABSI/SJ/38
TitleFr Henry Mather SJ (1887-1963)
DescriptionSelected letters of Fr Mather to his sisters in England; diaries relating to Fr Mather's time in the Rupununi and at Santa Rosa Mission; notebooks; 1 folder of correspondence relating to his stock certificates.
Admin_HistoryHenry Cotton Mather was born 10 March 1887 at Willoughby in Worcestershire. His family were related to Cotton Mather, the noted American Puritan. In 1893, Mather's mother was received into the Catholic Church together with her children at St Wilfrid's in Preston. Mather attended Stonyhurst College and on completion of his education spent a further two years at the College as a lay philosopher.

Mather entered the Society of Jesus in September 1907. He studied Philosophy at Louvain and at St Mary's Hall. Between 1912 and 1919 he was second prefect at Stonyhurst. He studied Theology at St Beuno's between 1919 and 1922, and was ordained there on 22 February 1922. After completing his tertianship at Tullamore in Ireland, Mather set out for the mission in British Guiana in September 1923. He never returned to England and spent the next forty years of his life serving the Amerindian mission.

Mather was initially posted to St Ignatius in the Rupununi but a debilitating bout of malaria forced him to return to Georgetown having barely started his work. Between 1925 and 1928, Mather served at Essequibo. In February 1928 Mather and Fr William Keary left Georgetown for the Takutu mission. The two Jesuits were lucky to survive the capsize of their boat in Konawaruk Rapids en route. Mather remained in the interior almost solidly between 1928 and 1944. Mather served as Superior for much of this time and was generally based at the mission station while his fellow missioners led an itinerant existence.

An account of Fr Mather and his work in the Rupununi is given in Evelyn Waugh's 'Ninety-two Days' (1934) and Michael Swann's 'The Marches of El Dorado' (1958). After a long stint in the interior, Mather served at Suddie (1945-1947), Santa Rosa (1947-1953) and Georgetown (1953-1956). He returned to St Ignatius in 1956 and remained there almost until the point of his death.

After an illness of several months Mather died of tuberculosis and related complications at the hospital in Georgetown on 7 June 1963. His Requiem Mass was held at Georgetown Cathedral the following day and he was buried at Le Repentir cemetery.

A full obituary can be found in Letters and Notices 68 (1963), pp. 239-246.
Related Material - Guyana
- Papers of Fr William Keary SJ (SJ/40); Fr Cuthbert Cary-Elwes SJ (SJ/1); Fr Wilfrid Banham SJ (SJ/39)
- For images, see SJ/PH/781
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives.

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