Mather, Alexander
1733-1800; e.m. 1757

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An early itinerant, born at Brechin, Scotland in February 1733. In his youth he joined the Jacobite rebels, but survived the slaughter at Culloden. While working for Thomas Marriott, a London baker, he heard John Wesley preach at West Street chapel on 14 April 1754, was converted and became a member of society and a class leader at the Foundery. In 1757 under the influence of Thomas Walsh he became convinced of experiencing Christian perfection. He was the first married married man accepted for the itinerancy and proved himself an effective evangelist and writer. He suffered at the hands of the mob at Darlaston, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Monmouth; and in 1761 was instrumental in effecting a revival at Wednesbury. As one of Wesley's close advisers he played an important part in connexional administration. Wesley named him in the Deed of Declaration and in his will as permitted to preach in the new chapels in London and Bath. In 1788 he was one of three preachers ordained by Wesley as a 'Superintendent' for the work in England.

Though his fellow preachers ignored this after John Wesley's death, being unwilling to have another 'King in Israel', he became the second President of the Conference in 1792. As a 'Church Methodist', in 1791 he approved of the 'Hull Circular' urging the preachers in Conference to retain Methodism's links with the Church. At the Lichfield meeting in 1794 he, with Henry Moore opposed any immediate step to ordain without first consulting the Conference and in the Bristol dispute that year took a conciliatory position. With John Pawson he published An Affectionate Address opposing Kilham's radical views. He was one of the preachers who drew up the Plan of Pacification the following year. He died at York on 22 August 1800. An account of his death was given by Richard Burdekin.


'Rose every morning at four o'clock, and laboured without any apparent fatigue, till nine at night. - Close in his application to the business of the Connexion, and a faithful observer of its discipline. Distinguished for the number of his children in the gospel, though his great forte was that of edifying believers, and rearing the structure of Christian holiness… Wise in Counsel, - deep in experience; - persevering, - and unflinching in the storm. Much obloquy thrown upon him by Mr. Kilham and his party; but it was "Alexander the coppersmith" against "Alexander the Great". Had a great deal of management and governing tact.'

Wesleyan Takings (1840), p. 335

  • Charles Atmore, Methodist Memorial (1801) pp.256-66
  • Lives of the Early Methodist Preachers 2, pp.158-239
  • G.J. Stevenson, Methodist Worthies (1884-86) 1 pp.156-64
  • Oxford DNB