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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 89 (Dec 18, 1788 mtg)   90 (Dec 18, 1788 mtg)   91 (Dec 18, 1788 mtg)   92 (Dec 18, 1788 mtg)   93 (Dec 18, 1788 mtg) 



folio 89 (December 18, 1788 meeting)

1788. and Mr. Samuel Cummings were chosen for said Committee.
     Voted, to dismiss the 4th article in the Warrant.
     Voted, that the Committee appointed by the town &Church in conjunction to sign the letters missive, be also appointed to convey them to the several Churches, which are to constitute, or compose the Council.
     Voted, to choose a Committee of three to procure timber for the bridge by Col. Howard's mill: And Mr. Brian Fletcher junr, Capt. David Savage, and Mr. Phineas Allen were chosen for said Committee.
     Voted, to build the Pounds with round logs or poles, and to be thirty feet square within side; and Mr. James Page and Benjamin Pettingill Esq. were chosen a Committee to procure the stuff the winter ensuing.
The question was put whether John Badcock's rates should be abated, and passed in the negative.
Meeting dissolved, Sam.e. Bullen. Moderator.

     Attest Ephm. Ballard, Town Clerk.

     To Benjamin Brown, Constable of the town of Hallowell.
      In the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you are required forthwith to notify & warn all the freeholders and other inhabitants of the said town, qualified to vote in town affairs, to assemble and meet at the meeting house in said town, on Thursday the eighteenth day of December instant, at ten o' clock in the forenoon, for the following purposes, viz.
     To choose a Moderator for said Meeting.
     To choose a Committee to wait upon Mr. Foster, to see if he will ask a dismission, agreeable to the advice of the Council.
     To see if the town will grant Mr. Foster a dismission from his Ministerial charge in this town, if he asks it according to the advice of council, & to take such other measures respecting dismissing Mr. Foster from his Ministerial office in this town, as the town shall think proper.
     To see what sum of money the town will give Mr. Foster in case a dismission shall take place.
     To consider and determine what method shall be taken to procure a sum of money immediately to discharge an Execution which Asa Emerson has against the Meeting house Committee for money due him for the Meeting house frame.
     To see if the town will direct their Agent to call on Mr. Asa Emerson immediately for settlement.
You are alike required to warn all the inhabitants of said