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 87 (September 9, 1788 meeting)


  and it was struck off to Mr. David Jackson for fourpence in the pound, he being the lowest bidder, and he the said David Jackson was chosen Collector, and sworn.
     Voted, to dismiss the article of choosing a Surveyor of Highways in the room of Capt. Enoch Page, as he did not refuse serving.
     Voted, to abate old Mr. Ezekiel Page's rates in Ephraim Ballard's bills for the year 1781. and also, Nathan Tyler's rates for the same year in said bills; and also, Samuel H. Cole's rates in Mr. Isaac Clark's bills for 1781.
  Meeting dissolved, Daniel Cony, Moderator.

      Attest, Eph. m. Ballard, Town Clerk.

     To Benjamin Brown, Constable of the town of Hallowell, Greeting.
     Being requested by a number of respectable inhabitants of this town, We require you, in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to notify & warn the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Hallowell qualified to vote in town affairs, to assemble and meet at the Meeting house in said town, on Thursday the 30th day of October instant, at ten o' clock in the forenoon, for the following purposes, viz.

  1. To choose a Moderator.
  2. To see if the town will agree with the Revd. Isaac Foster, to have the Contract between the town and Mr. Foster cancelled, and take such measures as the town shall think proper relative to the same.
  3. To see if the town in conjunction with the Church will call an Ecclesiastical Council, to hear, judge& advise in all matters of grievance that shall regularly be laid before the said Council.
  4. If no measures are taken to remove the grievances complained of, to see if the town will vote to discharge the disaffected persons who cannot conscientiously attend upon Mr. Foster's meeting, from paying any tax for his support.

     To consider the expediency of appointing and agreeing with some person or persons to procure timber for building a Bridge near to Col. Howard; mill, as it cannot be so conveniently got, but in the winter season; and to determine thereon.
To consider and determine on the expediency of abating John Badcock's rates. And make return of this Warrant, with your doings thereon to us, or either of us at or before the time of said meeting.

      Ephm. Ballard, }  
      D. Cony, Selectmen
      H. Sewall,