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Among many historians a belief persists that Cotton Mather`s biographies of some of the settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (published 1702) are exercises in hagiography, endowing their subjects with saintly piety at the expense of historical accuracy. Yet modern studies have profited both from the breadth of information that Mather provides in, for example, his discussions of colonial medicine and from his critical observations of such leading figures as Governor John Winthrop. Mather`s wry humor as demonstrated by his detailed descriptions of events such as Winthrop`s efforts to prevent wood-stealing is overlooked by those charging Mather with presenting his subjects as extremely pious. The charge also obscures Mather`s concern with the settlers` material, not just spiritual, prosperity. Further, this pejorative view underrates the biographies` value as chronicles: Mather amassed all sorts of published and unpublished documents as sources, and his selection of key events shows a marked sensitivity to the nature of the colony`s development.