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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Glebes were plots of ground designated for the use of clergymen assigned to a parish in England or the British colonies in America before 1776. The glebe was considered a part of the cleric's stipend, and he could farm, rent out, or otherwise use the land for his maintenance. At a meeting of the vestry of St. Paul's Parish in Chowan County on 5 May 1708, it was agreed that 500 acres that had been purchased was a glebe. In 1762, however, the North Carolina Assembly directed that every parish should have a glebe, and it specified the buildings that each should contain. This law directed that except for normal use, the property should be maintained at public expense.

After the American Revolution, unoccupied glebe land attracted squatters and speculators and in some cases resulted in legal action to settle claims. Some churches, including St. Thomas Church in Bath, still hold title to ancient glebe property.

Additional Resources:

Knight, Edgar W. "An Educational Practice in Colonial North Carolina." The North Carolina Booklet 15. No.1. July 1916. p. 49.  (accessed August 23, 2012).

"An Act for making Provision for an Orthodox Clergy." Acts of the North Carolina General Assembly, 1762. Colonial and State Records of North Carolina 23. Goldsboro, N.C.: Nash Brothers. 1905. p.584.