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 90 (December 18, 1788 meeting)

1788 town of Hallowell, qualified to vote for a Representative to the General Court of said Commonwealth, to assemble at said time & place to choose a Representative for the District to which the said town belongs, to represent them in Congress, agreeable to order of General Court. Also, to give in their votes for two persons, who shall be inhabitants of the District in which said town belongs to be as Candidates for an Elector of the President and Vice President of the United States, according to order of Court.
     And to make return of this warrant with your doings thereon to us or either of us at or before the time of said meeting.
     Given under our hand & seal at Hallowell, this first day of December A.D. 1788
    Ephm. Ballard, }  
    James Carr Selectmen
    James Page  

December, 18. 1788. Agreeable to this Warrant I have notified the inhabitants of the town of Hallowell, qualified agreeable to the within directions to meet at the time & place, and for the purposes within mentioned, by posting a copy of this Warrant at the Meeting house door 15 days before the time of meeting, agreeable to a vote of the town.
Benj. a. Brown, Constable of the town of Hallowell.
Attest Ephm. Ballard.Town Clerk.

The faceholders and other inhabitants of the town of Hallowell, being duly notified and warned thereto, assembled at the Meeting house in said town, December 18th 1788. The meeting being opened by the Selectmen, proceeded to business as follows viz.
     Voted, by ballot, & chose Daniel Cony Esq. Moderator.
     Voted, to choose a Committee of three persons to wait upon Mr. Foster for the purpose mentioned in the Warrant, and Mr. Nathan Weston, Mr. Samuel Cony and Mr. James Page were chosen for said Committee. Then adjourned the meeting for the space of half an hour.
Met again according to adjournment, and the Committee reported by giving or communicating Mr. Foster's answer in writing which was read twice in the meeting, and is as follows (viz) "To the town of Hallowell, Gentlemen,
     "I shall not ask a dismission upon the result of Council, but as I have long been desirous that a dismission should take take place, am still willing to continue my former motion, now in the Clerk's office. If the town are desirous that a separation shold