- May 2022
William Mather’s 1699 Young Man’s Companion
Is there any familial relation between William Mather and Cotton Mather or his family?
If there is, this could be even more damning. A quick search indicates that William Mather was a schoolmaster and may have been a Quaker. This means that a highly religious schoolmaster was teaching and spreading ideas about abortion in 1699.
William Mather’s 1699 Young Man’s Companion also has one (the London book would inspire the very first arithmetic book to be printed in the colonies in 1705, by Franklin’s old boss Andrew Bradford). In Mather’s book, though, the recipe was short, misleading, and ineffective. It includes an entry for “Terms provoked,” a heading also found under comparable medical books with abortifacient concoctions (where the “term,” or period, needs “provoking”). Unfortunately for Mather’s readers, however, he prescribes “stinking Arach,” or goosefoot, which is an emmenagogue (an agent to stimulate or regulate menstruation) but not a reliable abortifacient. He also makes the even more dubious suggestion to “take a draught of White wine” under a full moon.
- William Mather
- Benjamin Franklin
- Cotton Mather
- Andrew Bradford
- Young Man's Companion
- abortifacient concotions