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
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.