The negotiation with Mr. Dalton resulted in his selling to the church and town "for ye use of ye ministry forever," his dwelling-house and several tracts of land, and three shares in the cow-common, and one share in the ox-common, on the 28th day of December, 1657. This deed was not, as has sometimes been stated, a deed of gift, but it was given in consideration of "ye sum of two hundred pounds sterling," to be paid "unto ye Heirs, Executors & Administratrs of me ye sd Timothy Dalton," as follows, viz.: £20 within one year after his decease, and then £20 annually until the full sum of £200 should be pain, "in corn or cattell, att ye current price, to be delivered at Hampton from time to time." That this consideration was not relinquished to the town is evident from the fact, that Mr. Dalton disposed of it otherwise, by bequests in his last will and testament.
From the property thus conveyed, originated the ministerial fund, the income of which has been used to aid in supporting the ministry, during several generations.
According to the terms of sale, the transfer of the property named in the deed was not to be made immediately, but after the death of the grantor, and after the crops that might then be upon the land should be gathered in. This transaction, then, failed to provide a house for the immediate use for Mr. Cotton. The town, therefore, had further negotiation with Mr. Dalton, which resulted in an agreement for the desired end.
Mr. Dalton had recently purchased of Thomas Moulton, a house which stood where the house of Walter J. Palmer now stands. The town engaged to make an addition to this, "to be equal in breadth with the old house, and to be 36 feet in length." This was to be built and finished at the town's charge, in the manner specified in the contract, so as to be as convenient for his use as the house he was then occupying. This being done, Mr. Dalton was to remove thither, and relinquish all claim to the house and lands where he then lived.
At the same time, the town agreed with Abraham Perkins, Joseph Merry and William Marston, to do all the carpenter work required to fulfill this contract, except the clapboarding and shingling, which were to be provided for in some other way, and they were to receive for their labor £20 "to bee payd in goods att Mr. Cuttses." [Cutts of Portsmouth -- merchant.] William Marston had been previously engaged by Robert Page, to build a mill, which he had contracted with the town to have completed at a specified time; but so urgent seemed the present case, that the town extended the time allowed for completing the mill a whole year, in order "to free Will : Marston for the worke abovesd." [Chap.xxxi: The First Sawmill.]
In the records of 1658, is the following entry, dated November 22 : "The Towne hath agreed with Henry Smith, who liueth wth Mr. Cotton, that for the spase of one full yeere next insuing, hee shall keepe the key of the meetin-house & shall keepe the sd mettin House Deacent and Cleane and shall Ringe the Bell eury Euening att nine of the clock, [Curfew bell.] and upon the Sabath Dayes att eight & nine of the clock before the morning Exercise, and att one & two of the clock in the afternoon, and upon the lectur Daies before the lecture, all wch is to bee Constantly prformed throughout the yeere." For this service, he was to receive fifty shilling, to be paid by a special tax.
From the hours at which the bell was to be rung on the morning of the Sabbath, according to this agreement, we infer that the morning service began at nine o'clock, or soon after, and it did not probably close till about noon. The devotional exercises and the sermons at that time were much longer than they usually are at the present day.
On another occasion the town voted "that the fore seat in the gallery should be appropriated to the married men to sit in, until the town should take further order about it." "Liberty was also granted to those who were to occupy this seat, "t" sett up a backe to the sd fore seate prouided thatt itt bee not prejudidiall to the Hinmost seats."
Near the close of the year 1660, the town passed the following vote: "Itt is agreed by the Towne yt thear shall be a comitty of meett men appointed by the Towne to Rectifie the Sitting of men & women in the meeting-house, & to agree with workmen for the making of Seates whear they see meett, and in cause that any prson finds Himselfe Greeued [grieved] with his or her plaseing in the meeting-house, they shall haue liberty to make their complaint to the Towne, who shall be Ready to Releue [relieve] them--to bee determined by a vote of the majer part. The men appointed for the worke aboue sd are Deacon Page, Deacon Godfrey & Henery Robey, who are to Request or Reuerend Elders [Mr. Dalton and Mr. Cotton] to bee helpe full to them so far as they shall please to attend the worke."
Itt is agreed yt there shall bee forty shillings allowed for to plaster the Roof of our Teacher's House to keepe out the weather--to be Improued for the best aduantage for such an End." This house was probably the one that Mr. Dalton bought of Thomas Moulton, and which the town had agreed to enlarge and repair.
At a town meeting at the beginning of the following year, it was proposed to put the house and lands occupied by Mr. Cotton, in such a condition, that there need be no further expense to the town for fencing, building or repairing during his ministary. The sum of £20 was appropriated for the purpose.