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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 87 (Oct 30, 1788 mtg)   88 (Oct 30, 1788 mtg)   89 (Oct 30, 1788 mtg) 


folio 88 (October 30, 1788 meeting)

1788.      Agreeable to this Warrant, I have warned all the freeholders & other inhabitants of the town of Hallowell, qualified by law to vote in town affairs, to meet at at the time & place, and for the purpose within mentioned by posting a true copy of this Warrant, agreeable to a vote of the town.
Benjamin Brown, Constable of the town of Hallowell.

Hallowell, Oct. ye 30. 1788. Attest. Ephm. Ballard, Town Clerk.

     At a meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of thte town of Hallowell, being duly notified &warned thereto, on the 30th of October 1788, the meeting opened and proceeded to business as follows, viz.
     Voted, and chose Mr. Samuel Bullen Moderator.

     On motion made the question was put whether they would choose a Committee to treat with Mr. Foster, concerning the 2d article in the Warrant, and it passed in the affirmative.
     Voted, that the Committee should consist of three, and Mr. Noah Woodward, Mr. Ezekiel Page, and Mr. Benjamin Brown were chose for said Committee.

     Voted, to adjourn the meeting for the space of 15 minutes. Met again according to adjournment.
The Committee returned & reported verbally, that Mr. Foster said he had nothing to offer with regard to an agreement; but that he was willing to concur in calling a Council, if the town & church see fit.
On motion being made, the question was put, whether the Town will in conjunction with the Church call an Ecclesiastical Council to hear, judge & advise in all matters of grievance that shall be regularly laid before said Council; and it passed in the affirmative.
     Voted, that the Council that was chosen to ordain Mr. Foster, shall be the Council, except Mr. Foster's two brother's; and that Mr. Foster shall choose two others in the room of his two brothers: And Mr. Foster nominated Mr. Williams of New Casco, and his Church, and Mr. Winship of Woolwich and his Church.
     Voted, that the 3d Tuesday in November next be the day for said Council to convene.
     Voted, and chose Deacon Cony, in behalf of the town to sign the letters missive.
     Voted, to choose a Committee of three to provide for the entertainment of the Council; and Mr. Jason Livermore, Ephraim Ballard