MATHER, Alexander (by 1517-58), of Norwich, Norf.
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Family and Education
b. by 1517. m. Elizabeth, da. of Edmund Wood of Norwich, 3s. 8da.2
Auditor, Norwich 1548, 1550, keeper of the keys 1549, common councilman 1549-50, common speaker 1550, alderman 1552-d.3
Alexander Mather may have migrated to Norfolk from Lancashire, where the surname was and is common: his sister’s married name was Entwhistle. He seems to have entered the service of Thomas Godsalve, notary in Norwich: in 1538 a former fellow-servant wrote to Mather asking to be recommended ‘to my master and yours’. In May 1540 he was admitted a freeman of Norwich as a ‘mercer’ and although he had not been apprenticed he was excused the usual fine. On the following 21 Sept. an agreement was sealed exempting him from all city offices except those in the guilds. It was presumably by agreement that he discharged certain duties, for when on 3 May 1550 he was elected speaker of the common council it was recorded that this should not be to the detriment of his privilege. On 22 Jan. 1552, as ‘citizen and notary public’, he was made one of the city’s attorneys in the court of augmentations, and a year later it was intended that he should act in the same capacity in the King’s bench; in April 1553 he had letters of attorney to appear for Norwich before the chancellor and the Council.4
Mather was a natural choice to be one of the city’s Members in the Parliament of March 1553, when he was returned with Thomas Marsham. Doubtless because of its brevity, this was one of the few Parliaments of these years which did not pass an Act of specific concern to Norwich. Eighteen months later, when Mather again sat for the city, this time with a local lawyer, John Corbet II, they had to pilot through the House the Act establishing the russell makers company (1 and 2 Phil. and Mary, c.14): both his and Corbet’s names appear in the preamble of the Act as two of the originators of the project. The bill appears to have had a smooth passage, passing the Commons on 18 Dec. 1554 and the Lords on 27 Dec. It is not surprising that neither Mather nor Corbet withdrew from the House before the end of the session: if for no other reason they must have wanted to hear that their bill was safely through and had received the royal assent.5
Mather’s interest in clothmaking was matched by his readiness to invest in overseas trade: he was probably the Alexander Mather who appears in the charter of February 1555 establishing the Russia Company. It was, however, to the acquisition of land that he devoted his notarial and other gains. By August 1545 he was able to pay £227 for Vawces manor and other lands belonging to the dissolved college of St. Mary in the Field, Norwich, although he quickly parted with them to the sitting tenant. In December 1557 he and William Tompson of Beccles, Suffolk, bought the manors of Claxton and Hellington, Norfolk, and much other land from Edward North, 1st Lord North: these they conveyed two days later to John Throckmorton of Claxton, presumably as a trustee, for after Mather’s death Throckmorton re-conveyed them to his widow Elizabeth and the notary William Mingay who became her second husband.6
Mather made his will, ‘written with his own hand’, on 17 Nov. 1555. An honest priest ‘being a good choir man’ was to sing for him for a year in St. Simon and Jude, Norwich. He left bequests to his brother William and sister Isabella Entwhistle, ‘if she be alive’, to the poor and to various churches. Each of his three sons and one of his daughters were to have 100 marks at the age of 20 and the other seven daughters 40 marks at age of 18, their mother disposing of this money in the interval. She herself received the residue of his movables and a life interest in four houses in Norwich and all his lands in Norfolk: she and the sons were made executors, and Dr. Spencer, archdeacon of Sudbury, supervisor. Mather died on 12 Sept. 1558 and the will was proved on 29 Apr. 1560. His eldest son Edmund appears to have been the Edmund Mather who was executed for plotting to assassinate Cecil in 1571.7
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Author: Roger Virgoe
- 1. Mather’s christian name is torn off the indenture, but the style ‘notarius publicus’ establishes his identity, C219/20/161.
- 2. Date of birth estimated from first reference. PCC 23 Mellershe.
- 3. Norwich ass. procs. 2, ff. 207v, 209v, 210, 214, 216, 219, 236v.
- 4. LP Hen. VIII, xiii; Norwich ass. procs. 2, ff. 171v, 176, 216, 229, 238, 240v; old free bk. 1317-1549, f. 135.
- 5. Blomefield, Norf. iii. 270.
- 6. CPR, 1554-5, p. 56; 1557-8, pp. 239, 240; 1558-60, p. 8; T. S. Willan, Muscovy Merchants of 1555, p. 113.
- 7. PCC 23 Mellershe; Blomefield, iv. 457; HMC Hatfield, ii. 1-8; CSP Dom. Add. 1566-79, pp. 380-3; N. Williams, Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk, 231-2.