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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 Schools

In 1656, Stamford's 15th year, the New Haven jurisdiction passed laws ordering every plantation to provide instruction for children. Connecticut already had similar laws. Despite severe penalties some towns ignored this, so the next year the Court ordered them to procure a schoolmaster. One-third of the school costs were to come from town taxes; the other two-thirds to come from the scholars.

Richard Mills apparently was Stamford's first school teacher. He moved to Long Island in 1661, and there are no records of any school until December, 1670 when Matthew Bellamy was named Schoolmaster. His schoolhouse was built three years later using materials from the old meeting house. It was located just southwest of the new meeting house on the town green.

The General Assembly of Connecticut began to help defray school costs. In 1700 the Assembly voted to contribute to each town 20 shillings for every 1000 pounds on the town's grand list, the funds to come from the country tax. In Stamford, these funds were divided among three schools according to the number of pupils in each. The balance was to come from parents and in the case of apprentices, from the masters. A suggestion in 1704 to establish a regular school tax was promptly rejected. The payments from Hartford rose to 40 shillings/1000 pounds in 1708.

In 1712 the church was assigned the administration of school houses, curriculum and text and the hiring of teachers, though the work was actually done by the town school committee established six years earlier. On December 26, 1734, three years after church and town were separated and the Congregationalists had reorganized as “The First Society,” the church took over the schools completely in what were known as Ecclesiastical Society Meetings, a term shortened to “School Society” or just “Society” as written in the tax lists. No change was made in financing.

On April 2, 1798 the grand list was used again. Stamford's central school district voted a tax of four cents per dollar on its 1797 tax list to build a new school.

Schools received an unusual boost in 1797. The state had sold almost 3,000,000 acres of its “Western Reserve,” land in Ohio. The proceeds were invested in U.S. Bonds in a School Fund. The State Assembly decided to distribute the substantial interest to town school districts in proportion to the grand lists. The State also continued to return to the schools part of the taxes collected for the State by the towns. In 1801 each school Society received $2.00 for every $1000 on its portion of the grand list. This, added to the School Fund interests relieved the towns of most of their school costs. In many years the State returned more than it got from the towns.