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   Minister's Tax

What was the Minister's Tax?


In 1792, the town of Wolfeboro hired a town minister, Rev. Ebenezer Alien. His salary was paid by a minister's tax that was levied on all taxpayers. The town-meeting house, at Wolfeboro Center, was equipped with pews, paid for by pew-holders, most of whom were Congregationalists.

There were some Baptists and Quakers in the town and they objected to paying the minister's tax. They petitioned the town to separate the business of the town from that of the parish. The town rejected the petition. Thomas Cotton then petitioned the town meeting to release him from paying the minister's tax. The town refused, and so in that fall of 1802, the tax assessor assessed Thomas Cotton $1.92 for the minister's tax.

Cotton refused to pay so the assessor took one of Cotton's cows  in January 1803. He then sold it at public auction. Expectedly, Cotton sued the town but the county court in Dover delayed it until 1806. The town finally settled out of court, paying Cotton $20.00 for the cow. Altogether, it cost the town $75.00, and the taxation for ministerial support ended in Wolfeboro.







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