Martha Ballard's Story
Chapter 1

The New Minister

Martha first mentions the Rev. Mr. Isaac Foster, "a yong Gentleman from Stafford, in the state of Conneticut" on April 16th, 1786, when he preached on probation. She didn't attend church that day, but must have heard about it in "Intermision," the break between the lengthy morning and afternoon services.

It was the year after Martha began her diary, and the fifteen year-old town of Hallowell was looking for its first fulltime Congregational minister.

On May 8, Martha noted in her diary, "this town mett & Gave the Revd mr Foster a Call to Settle here." Because town taxes paid the minister's salary, hiring the new town minister was town business. Several candidates for the minister's job had already been turned down.

What does the official Hallowell town record say?

Town disputes over New England ministers were common after the Revolution. In fact, documents from the Plymouth Court of Common Pleas -- reveal that Martha Ballard's own brother was expelled from his pulpit in Rochester, Massachusetts for being too liberal in his theology and too inflexible in his dealings with his neighbors.

"Shocking Indeed"
Perhaps Martha was liberal in her theology, too.

Table of Contents

Moore v. The First Precinct in Rochester
Plymouth County Court of Common Pleas
April 8, 1794
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Plymouth Ss. -- At the Court of Common Pleas

begun and held at Plymouth within and for the County of Plymouth, on the Second Tuesday of April, [being the eighth Day of said Month] and in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety Four-----

The Inhabitants of the first Precinct in Rochester, in the County of Plymouth, of whom Nathan Willis Gentleman one of the Deputy Sherrifs of said County is one, were summoned to appear at this term to answer to Jonathan Moore of Rochester aforesaid Clerk, is a plea of the case, for that the said Jonathan being invited and called by the Inhabitants of said Precinct, and the Members of the Church in said Precinct, to undertake the work of the Gospel Ministry in said Precinct, for his encouragement thereto the said Inhabitants at a legal meeting of said Precinct, at said Rochester held on the twenty third day of June in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty Eight Voted and agreed that the said Jonathan should have receive of said Precinct the Sum of Eighty Pounds Yearly for his Yearly Salary so long as his Pastoral Relation should continue in said Precinct, the same by a prior Vote of said Precinct at a legal meeting of said Precinct on the seventh day of April in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty eight being voted and agreed to be paid at semi annual periods after the Ordination of said Jonathan ---- and the said Jonathan further avers that relying on the Votes and agreement aforesaid he *** and then accepted of the call and Invitation aforesaid, and was accordingly afterwards on the seventh day of September in the year of our Lord, pursuant to the Invitation and said call of said Precinct and Church regularly ordained to the pastoral charge of the Church and Congregation of the Precinct aforesaid as the Minister of said Precinct according to the rules and practices of the Congregational Churches in New England and agreeable to the Laws of this Commonwealth, then Province of Massachusetts Bay--- and the said Jonathan in the constant and faithful execution of the Duties of his said Office and Ministry from that time to the day of the date of this Writ hath continued and remained, and his pastoral Relations to said Precinct hath never from the time of his Ordination as aforesaid been broken or dissolved but still continues and remains in full force -----Nevertheless the said Inhabitants of said Precinct the said Salary of Eighty pounds payable as aforesaid and voted and promised as aforesaid, have not paid to the said Jonathan but the same for two Years and six months next previous to the date of the date of this Writ, amounting to the sum of two hundred pounds, have neglected to pay to the said Jonathan, and still, tho' often requested, do actually neglect and refuse to pay --

To the Damage of the Said Jonathan, as he saith,