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 93 (December 18, 1788 meeting)


  due from the town to the said Committee, that the Selectmen order the Treasurer to pay the same as soon as may be; and if there shall be no money in the Treasury, he the said Treasurer to borrow a sufficient sum to pay the same on the credit of the town.
     Voted, That Joseph North Esq., Town Agent, be directed immediately to call upon Asa Emerson for a complete settlement of all accounts with the town.
  Adjourned without day, Daniel Cony Moderator.

Attest Eph. m. Ballard, Town Clerk.

Hallowell, Decr.18. 1788.
     The inhabitants of the town of Hallowell, qualified to vote for a Representative to the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, being duly notified and warned, assembled at the Meetinghouse in said town for the purpose of giving in their votes for a Representative in the Congress of the United States, and the votes being sorted and counted and declared by the Selectmen in open town meeting were as follows, viz.
     For George Thatcher Esquire, seventy four.
     For Daniel Cony Esquire, sixteen.
     And the votes given in for two persons as candidates for an Elector of the President & Vice President of the United States, being sorted, counted and declared as aforesaid by the Selectmen were as follows, viz.
     For Daniel Cony Esquire, forty eight.
     For Josiah Thatcher Esq. twenty one.
     For General Lithgow, twenty six.
     For Stephen Longfellow, two
     For James Carr, one.
          Attest, Ephm. Ballard, Town Clerk.

      The freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Hallowell, qualified to vote in town affairs, are in the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, required to assemble at the Meeting house in said town, on Thursday, the 30th day of January instant, at ten o' clock in the forenoon, for the following purposes. viz.

  1. To choose a Moderator for said meeting.
  2. To see if the town will accept of the doings of the Auditors