I always wanted to believe that James MATHER (1821-1881) was my great great grandfather, but up until a few weeks ago the paternity of my great grandmother was not watertight. James and my great great grandmother, Fanny Cross were not married when my great grandmother, Sarah Mather Cross was born and there was no father listed on her birth certificate. However, when she was christened, James was listed as her father and James and Fanny were married when Sarah was 18 months old.

So I was delighted to discover a DNA match between my brother and a descendant of Elizabeth Mather, who was James Mather’s half-sister.  I duly contacted my new cousin, got a lovely friendly reply and we have been swapping information since then. In fact, I had another DNA match shared this time between myself, my brother, my new cousin and a further new cousin. Information supplied by my new cousin confirmed where the second new cousin fit into the Mather family tree.

It had been a while since we had both concentrated on research into the Mather family. On review of my previous research I found I had identified James Mather’s parents – his father was Peter Mather who married a Sarah Hall and had two surviving children, James and Mary. Sarah then died and Peter married another Sarah (Barlow) and they had four more children – Maria, Ann, Samuel (or Squire) and Elizabeth (the link to the two new DNA cousins).

As noted on Peter’s baptism record, his parents were James, a weaver, and Mary (Melling). Going through the baptismal records for St Mary’s in Radcliffe, Lancashire I could identify Peter’s siblings.

The family of James Mather and Mary Melling
The family of James Mather and Mary Melling

Going back a further generation, I could successfully place James, the weaver, in a family headed by another James and Mary (Pendlebury). In fact, the children’s names used by both Jamses’ were similar – a good bet that the families were related. I also had a copy of a will abstract for a James Mather, weaver, of Radcliffe who died in 1809 – the children listed matched those surviving for the family I had identified so I concluded that James Mather and Mary Pendlebury were Peter Mather’s grandparents.

The family of James Mather and Mary Pendlebury
The family of James Mather and Mary Pendlebury

In my previous research I had found entries in the Pigot’s commercial directories for the Radcliffe area (i.e. Pigot & Dean Directory of Manchester and Salford 1824/25 and Pigot and Co National Commercial Directory 1828/29) for several Mathers as follows:

  • Mather John, grocer & shoemaker, Church-st, Ratcliffe
  • Mather Jas. Sen. Gent. Spring-lane, Ratcliffe
  • Mather Jas. Jun. fustian manuf. Spring-lane, Ratcliffe
  • Mather Jas. Draper, hatter hosier, & dealer in shoes &c. Whitefield
  • Mather Jas shoemaker, Spring-lane, Ratcliffe
  • Mather Thos. Shopkeeper, Spring-lane, Ratcliffe
  • Mather Wm. Land-steward to the Earl of Wilton, Heaton-house

Whilst I could conceivably place some of these Mather’s within my branch of the family there was no way I could be sure. The total value of James Mather Snr’s probate in 1809 was valued under £300 to be split amongst 6 children. This did include at least three leaseholds on property in Radcliffe that would generate future rental income. This inheritance was not to be sniffed at but could it support a gentleman such as James Mather snr of Spring Lane who was listed in the Pigot’s directories?

Well the short answer is yes. James Mather, gentleman of Spring Lane, Radcliffe was Peter Mather’s father. I know this compliments of a document shared with me by my new DNA cousin. The document is an Indenture (form of lease or deed) issued in 1868 between Thomas Mather (Peter’s older brother and the shopkeeper listed in the Pigot’s directories) and all six of Peter Mather’s children (note that Peter Mather died just a couple of months before the indenture was issued). There is also an eighth party to the indenture,  Roger Alfred Grundy who is a manger of a Print Works in Glossop.

Unfortunately my cousin has only been able to send me the first page of the document so I don’t know the exact details of the transaction. However, there is enough on the first page to know that the agreement deals with several cottages in Mount Sion Road, Radcliffe that are part of the estate of James Mather, Gentleman of Spring Lane, Radcliffe whose main beneficiaries upon his death in 1835 where his sons Thomas and James (Peter’s older brothers).

Mather DNA Match and Bonus