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 91 (December 18, 1788 meeting)

take place, and are not willing to comply with my proposals, I shall expect the town will make a proposal to me, and give me time to take under consideration, and I will return you my answer at your next annual meeting, or to this, if you please to adjourn to some future day."
Hallowell, December 18. 1788.
Isaac Foster.
     On motion being made, the question being put, whether the town will accept of the proposal made in Mr. Foster's answer, brought into the meeting and communicated by the Committee, and it passed in the negative, seventy four against, and seven for it.
     The proceedings judgment and advice of the Ecclesiastical Council, lately convened in this town, of which the Revd. Thomas Brown was Moderator, being read and considered in Town meeting,
     Voted, That whereas the Revd. Isaac Foster, both by his principals and behaviour has given just grounds (in the opinion of this town) for uneasiness and complaint against him, especially when viewed and considered as a public teacher; the subject matter whereof has recently been mutually submitted to a learned judicious council, who after a tedious and painful investigation of the subject of complaint, and the allegations laid before them, have advised and recommended the dismission of Mr. Foster from his Pastoral office in this town. They the said Council being clearly of opinion, that Mr. Foster can be no longer useful in the Ministry here; and as there doth not appear to this town the smallest probability of Mr. Foster's being any longer useful as a Public Teacher in this place; as it is considered that he has forfeited his Ministorial character.
     The town of Hallowell in legal town meeting assembled, do therefore agreeable to, and in compliance with the advice and recommendation of the said Council, as well as for the regard we have for the welfare of this town, and the good of Religion, Do therefore grant him the said Isaac Foster a dismission from his pastoral office as a Public Teacher in this town, and he is hereby dismissed accordingly by a majority of eighty for, and nine against.
     Voted, That the said Isaac Foster be not allowed to preach in the Town's Meeting house any longer, and that the Sexton be ordered to keep the Meeting house doors shut against him as a Preacher, by a majority of sixty for and seven against.
     Voted, That the Town Clerk be directed to serve Mr. Foster with