Mathers Family Genealogy Forum
Kathy - My branch of the family is in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, where in living memory the name has always been pronounced with the 'a' as in 'hay', and with the stress on the 'a'. Written records in this area since about 1700 show many variations of spelling, which probably arose because the family were mostly illiterate and the record depended on someone else's interpretation of their pronunciation.
One of the common early variations is 'Maders'. If the 'a' in that was the same as the 'a' in 'trap' then in a Scots accent (where the 'd' is very hard) it would be a very definite and clear sound that is unlikely to be confused with anything else. Like others of your respondents, I often have to spell the name for people and it's the 'ath' part that makes it unclear. The spelling variations in the past suggest to me that the same difficulty has been around for some time. So my vote goes for the 'a' as in 'hay' - on the other hand any Irishmen I have come across tend to go for the 'a' as in 'maths'.
Regards, Ian Ma(y)thers