The Official Story
Chapter 5

Foster is dismissed

Reading the Hallowell town records from early September of 1788, we find out that Foster's relations with the town had deteriorated to the point where he was officially writing the town's officers, offering to sever his connections with the town if they would pay him 200 pounds -- double the amount of his annual salary. The town turned him down, leaving the issue uncomfortably unresolved.

Finally , as you can see in the town records from October 30, the town decided to convene a church council in November "to hear, judge, and advise in all matters of grievances." Foster agreed.

There is no official record of the charges presented against Foster at the November church council.

There are hints, however, in the entries Martha wrote after attending the church council meeting.

We know from Hallowell's December town records that the church council recommended dismissing Foster, that Foster insisted the town pay him the 200 pounds he requested or make a counteroffer, and that the town rejected his request. Foster was then officially dismissed at that meeting by a vote of 84 to 9: "whereas the Rev. Isaac Foseter both by his principles and behavior has given just ground in the opinion of this town for uneasiness and complaint againt him....the town of Hallowell, in legal town meeting assembled, do therefore...grant the said Rev. Isaac Foster a dismission from his pastoral office."

Take note of the terms of the dismissal, for they are unusually severe: the church sexton was directed not only to forbid Isaac Foster from preaching in the meeting house but also to forbid him from setting foot in the meeting house.

More suits and countersuits
Although Foster didn't set foot in the meeting house, he did stay in town, haggling over the terms of his dismissal.

Table of Contents

Hallowell Town Records (Transcription by John Sewall)
Town of Hallowell Officials
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 86 (Sep 9, 1788 mtg)   87 (Sep 9, 1788 mtg) 



folio 86 (September 9, 1788 meeting)

  qualified to vote in town affairs to meet at the time & place, & for the purpose within mentioned, by posting a copy of this Warrant fifteen days before the time of said meeting.
  Benjamin Brown, Constable of the town of Hallowell.


     At a meeting of the freeholders & other inhabitants of the town of Hallowell, qualified to vote in town affairs (being duly notified & warned, on Tuesday, the ninth day of September 1788- The meeting opened, they proceeded to business.
     Voted, and chose Daniel Cony, Esq., Moderator.

A paper signed by the Revd. Mr. Foster, containing some terms which he proposed for a dismission, had two several readings in the meeting. The question being put whethe the town will accept or comply with the laws, proposed by Mr. Foster, relative to a dismission, and it passed in the negative.
     Voted, to choose a Committee of three to wait on Mr. Foster, and request him to attend the meeting.And Mr. Nathan Weston, Capt. Enoch Page &Mr. David Thomas were chosen for said Committee.They attended on Mr. Foster, and he attended.
     The question was asked Mr. Foster, if he had any other, or further proposals to make; and he answered, he would propose to take two hundred pounds; and the question was put whether the town would accept, or comply with the proposal of of 200, and it passed in the negative.
     Voted, to adjourn the meeting for the space of five minutes; and it was adjourned accordingly.
     Met again and the meeting was opened.
     The question was put, whether the clause for granting money should be dismissed, and it passed in the affirmative (viz dismissing)
     Voted, to allow Mr. Benjamin White £ 4.16. towards the Province tax for the year 1773, which he collected in paper money, and it depreciated to almost nothing in his hands.
     Voted, to dismiss that clause in the Warrant, relative to the abatement of taxes in Mr. White's Tax bills for the year 1773.
     Voted, to choose a Collector of taxes in the room of Daniel Acvens, who has refused to serve; and that the collection be struck off to the lowest bidder, who shall find sufficient sureties for his paying the collection to the several Treasurers', agreeable to his Warrants,