Stamford Grand Lists
Taxation in Stamford, CT from 1641 to the Code
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
In 1712 the church was assigned
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
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.