Join  |  Official Historian  |  City of Stamford  |  Blog  |  About Us
Jewish Historical Society  |  Civil War Roundtable  |  Contact Us


Stamford Grand Lists

Physical Description of Tax Records
List of Records
Support for the Church
Support for the Schools

Taxation in Stamford, CT from 1641 to the Code of 1821

Support for the Church

In the new plantation of Stamford, on the western edge of Puritanism, church and village were treated as one. At first the minister's salary was raised by a fund drive. In 1644 a rate was imposed on those who didn't pay their share. With the commonwealth code of 1656, the means of supporting the church switched to a tax based on the grand list and collected by the town.

When a new meeting house was built in 1672/3, the grand list was used in two ways: (1) to levy a tax to pay for the building and (2) to allocate pews. Wealthier families were given preference, with exceptions for high social or military rank and for venerated seniors who had given their wealth to their children.

All property owners voted on the minister's rate. It was customarily paid one third in winter wheat, one third in pork, and one third in indian corn. Town meetings and town records covered both village and church affairs.

Administrations of church and town were officially separated in 1731 though the church records were kept in the town books for 28 more years. The tax continued, with abatements for outlying residents in winter (starting in 1733), and for people in northern Stamford (1770) who paid rates to the Pound Ridge church.

All church taxes went to the Congregational Church no matter what religion the taxpayer professed. This seemed expedient as long as there was only one church. When Episcopalians began preaching here in 1727 and their first church opened in 1747 the Puritans demanded that Episcopalians continue to pay taxes to the First Society, with few exclusions. The Anglicans fought for many years but got no relief until 1772. Rates for Baptists in Bangall were abated retroactive to 1771. Methodists coming in 1788 were also abated.

The concept of taxes for support of the church weakened in the late 1790s, as people began to object and refused to pay the tax. A special collector was named to seize property of the delinquents. One man whose horse was seized and sold launched an angry lawsuit to recover the horse. In 1811, due partly to legal costs in this lawsuit, the church rate was doubled to 5 cents on the dollar.

The state soon decided it wanted out. In 1817-18 it distributed among the churches a large fund received from the Federal Government and no more grants were made by Connecticut to religious groups. The new state constitution was adopted in the same year…the final stroke separating Church and State. The Congregational First Society continued to impose taxes until 1835/36, following which church needs were raised by subscription.