This guide briefly describes the most useful documents held by the Norfolk Record Office (NRO) for tracing the history of a parsonage or other glebe property in the county.
See our guide Tracing the History of your House for other types of records which will be helpful in your research.
J H Harvey, Sources for the History of Houses (British Records Association: Archives and the User series) contains general advice, together with an explanation of the different types of benefice.
These were compiled every few years by the incumbent, churchwardens and older parishioners. They were presented at the Bishop's visitation.
The terriers include a brief description of the parsonage and the parcels of land attached to the benefice, together with any rights, profits, customary fees and income from other sources.
Barns may also be mentioned, while later glebe terriers might describe the building materials used for the parsonage and, more rarely, the rooms.
Tithes in kind were commuted for a monetary payment, under the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act.
A tithe map and accompanying apportionment (or schedule) were drawn up for most parishes between 1836 and c1850: see lists DN/TA and DE/TA.
The tithe map divides the parish into plots and will show the location and acreage of the parsonage and other glebe property.
Houses and outbuildings are usually represented and may be distinguished by different colours. For example, red might be used for dwellings, grey for other buildings.
By using the tithe map in conjunction with the glebe terriers it is sometimes possible to identify the location of glebe land which has been in the possession of the benefice for many centuries.
Altered apportionments are usually found together with the earlier apportionments. Most of the maps and apportionments are now available on microfilm.
The incumbent held the freehold to the church, parsonage and glebe. However, he could not dispose of this property without the authority of the Bishop, granted in the form of a faculty.
It became easier for incumbents to dispose of glebe property under the Ecclesiastical Leasing Acts of the 19th century.
The Gilbert Act of 1776 allowed incumbents to mortgage glebe land. The money raised was used to build new parsonages or outbuildings, or improving existing ones.
A third party, or nominee, would be entrusted with the money and supervised the building work.
The parish records can often include documents relating to the building and upkeep of the parsonage (see PD lists):
Incumbents were responsible for the maintenance and repair of the parsonage and, under the Dilapidations Act 1871, surveyors were appointed to inspect glebe buildings at regular intervals.
A sequestrator was appointed to receive the tithes and other profits accruing to the benefice if a vacancy meant there was no incumbent.
They would also be responsible for the upkeep of the glebe buildings.
Sequestrators’ accounts often show their expenditure on the maintenance of the parsonage.
The Bishop's visitor was not normally concerned with the state of clergy residences, except in cases of significant disrepair.
However, from 1777 printed Articles of Enquiry were sent to the churchwardens containing queries about the condition of the parsonage.
All incumbents were supposed to reside in their parish, but a clergyman could obtain a licence from the bishop or a dispensation from the Archbishop to live elsewhere.
Wills proved before 11 January 1858 within the diocese of Norwich are indexed by name, and in the case of the Norwich Consistory Court, by place and occupation.
Probate inventories of the goods of deceased clergy often include references to the rooms in the parsonage and their function.
There are name and occupation indexes to the inventories.
See our guide to wills and probate records for further details on using and accessing these sources of information.