Mather Byles

(1707-1788 / the USA)

Biography of Mather Byles

Mather Byles (b. 26 March 1706, Boston, Massachusetts – 5 July 1788), was a clergyman active in British North America.

He was descended, on his mother's side, from John Cotton and Richard Mather. He graduated at Harvard University in 1725, and in 1733 became pastor of the Hollis Street Church (Congregational), Boston. He held a high rank among the clergy of the province and was noted for his scholarly sermons and his ready wit.

At the outbreak of the War of Independence he was outspoken in his advocacy of the royal cause, and after the British evacuation of Boston his connection with his church was dissolved.

He remained in Boston, however, and subsequently (1777) was arrested, tried and sentenced to deportation. This sentence was later changed to imprisonment in his own house. He was soon released, but never resumed his pastorate.

He is known for saying "Which is better - to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away or by three thousand tyrants one mile away?". A variation of the quote is spoken by Mel Gibson in the The Patriot.

He died in Boston on 5 July 1788, aged 82.

Besides many sermons he published A Poem on the Death of George I (1727) and Miscellaneous Poems (1744).

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The Almighty Conqueror.

Awake my Heart, awake my Tongue,
Sound each melodious String;
In num'rous Verse and lofty Song,
To thee, my GOD, I sing.

Omnipotent Redeemer-Lord,
What Wonders hast thou done!

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