The Official Story
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.
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.
Table of Contents
folio 92 (December 18, 1788 meeting)
|| 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