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 92 (December 18, 1788 meeting)

1788. an attested copy of the two foregoing votes as soon as may be.
     Voted, That the Assessors of this town be directed without delay to levy and assess upon the inhabitants & property in this town the balance due to Mr. Foster as a salary, including the whole of the present month of December, and commit the same to the Collector of taxes, with a Warrant in due form of law, requiring him to collect & pay the same unto William Howard Esq. Town Treasurer, or to his successor in that office, on or before the first day of March next, which sum as also all other sums, if any there be due to Mr. Foster from this town, the said Treasurer be, and hereby is directed to pay & adjust with Mr. Foster as soon as may be, and take his receipt in full for the same: And in case the sum or sums be not collected and paid into the Treasury of this town, on or before the first day of March next; then the Treasurer is hereby authorized to borrow on the credit of the town a sum sufficient to enable him to pay the balance which may be due assessed for that purpose and not collected, in order to complete a settlement with Mr. Foster.
     Voted, That Daniel Cony, Benjamin Pettingill Esq. & Mr. Jason Livermore be a Committee to procure for the town a copy of the letters missive for calling the late Ecclesiastical Council, also a copy of the charges or allegations which were laid before said Council, together with the result and advice of said Council thereon, and that the same be entered on the town's records when they are procured.
     Voted, That Daniel Cony Benjamin Pettingill Esquires, and Mr. Jason Livermore be a Committee to communicate the thanks of the town to the several Gentlemen who composed the late Ecclesiastical Council, lately convened in this place, where of the Revd. Thomas Brown was Moderator, and inform them that the town of Hallowell entertain a venerable opinion of the conduct of said council; the conspicuous candor and impartiallity manifested by them, both in the hearing and decision of the subject respecting this town, and the Revd. Isaac Foster, met the cordial approbation of the town.
     Voted, That the Selectmen, the Town Treasurer, Joseph North Esq. and Lazarus Goodwin Esq. be a Committee to settle & adjust all accounts between the Meeting-house Committee and the town, and if it appears on settlement that there is a balance