HAMPTON FALLS, 1709-1760 (Part II)
"That, although wee are comed to a Good measure of settlemt through God's good providence among us, both to Church and Ministry, to the Great Satisfaction of all as farr as wee know, and the Town in General, to Raise a tax for the support of each minister as by the said order may appear; Yett there are several charges that doth arise that are proper, particularly by those that belong to our parish, to be paid, as wood for to be provided for our minister, and fencing the parsonage Land, and for paying the schoolmaster, and several Charges that doth Rise relating to Minister and schooling, which cannot be equally discharged, or promises justly performed, without a Tax on the inhabitants in this parish:
Wee therefore pray that wee may have liberty and power to convene the Inhabitants together that belong to this parish from time to time, to Consider and Agree about those things that are needful as to the ministry and schooling; And that wee may choose assessors among our Selves to be joyned with the Select men that belong to our parish, to assess the estates of the Inhabitants belonging to our parish, for the Defraying of all such charges as shall from time to time Arise Relating to these affairs, all being concerned in this affaire that live westerly of the Linie Returned by the Committee, and that such taxes shall be collected and Gathered by the Constables from time to time, and paid according to Order of said assessors: all which as in wisdom shall see meet.
And your petioners, as in Duty Bound, shall ever pray, &c.
This petition, having been read at the council board, and sent to the House, was sent back with the following return:
"Wee are humbly of opinion that the petitioner be Referred to the General Town meeting of Hampton."
"The Council Consents to the Reference above and directs the Inhabitants of Hampton to proceed thereupon at next Town meeting and make a Returne to the next General Assembly of this Province."
The next annual town meeting would not be until December -- too late for the establishment of a winter school -- and at the request of the Hampton Falls people, a special town meeting was holden on the 22nd of September, when the petition of the Falls parish was presented. The town made answer, that whatever the inhabitants of the new parish might "agree to either by vote or otherwise for providing what quantity of fire wood annually for Mr. Cotton or for fencing in or clearing their Parsonage to make it more profitable to the possessor or for Repairing their Meetinghouse from time to time . . . . . . . . . . shall be accounted as done by the whole town to all intents and purposes and shall be collected as Mr. Gookin his wood Rate is and the other Charge in the Old Parish (viz) by a warrant from the Selectmen of Hampton with a Justice of the peace directed to the Constable for the time being to collect the same and pay it as ordered by the Selectmen for the uses above said, provided their vote or agreement be according to the true Intent and meaning of this vote of the Town and entered in the Town Book within fourteen days after this meeting. Wee mean by the Inhabitants of the Falls Parish those people that now inhabit on the South side of Taylors River and so up the Bridge over to sd River att Tiltons farm and from said Bridge a quarter of a mile on the North side the Country Road as far as our bounds toward Exeter and so Southerly to Salisbury Line."
And the men of the new parish were directed to meet on the 30th of the same month to act according to the above vote.
Voted, "That the Town declares their mind Relating to the School matter by the following vote, viz: That whereas there is one school appointed by Law to be kept in each town, the mind of town is that the whole town is little a nough to maintain the Charge of such a school as ought to be kept in this town; and therefore shall not exempt any part of this town from paying to the school appointed by Law."
To clinch the decree, it was then voted, that a new schoolhouse be built, "twenty four foot long and twenty foot wide to be done by the last day of April next to be built on the Land granted for that End by Deacon Dalton's (on the North side, where the center school-house now stands), and that the Tax be Raised on the In habitants of the Town."
This naturally angered the Falls people, but they were forced to bide their time, as the majority of the selectmen, at that time, lived on the town side, and would refuse to abate their taxes.
In 1714, however, a majority of the board were in their favor; and, acting with Justice Peter Weare, they issued their warrant to the constable, Robert Moulton, to collect the "school mats Rate from only a part of the Town, and wholly left out the other part of said Town; which partial doings hath caused great Divisions in the said Town, and will more increase contentions when the Constable comes to take such Rate by distress, if not timely prevented." So pleaded Lieut. Joseph Smith, one of the minority of the selectmen, "in behalfe of the greatest part of the Towne," in a petition to the governor and council, to interfere, by a hearing and decisive orders.
The petition was granted and a hearing appointed; but how the difficulty was settled, we are not informed.