Glasgow County, North Carolina


Year Established

County Seat

Population (2000)


Glasgow C.H.

N/A - Abolished in 1799

First Settled

First Settled By

Significance of County Name


Settlers of Dobbs County

James Glasgow - Secretary of State

A History of Glasgow County

The Legislative Act of 1791, establishing Glasgow County, directed that the county court be held at the house of Benjamin Sheppard at Snow Hill until James Glasgow, William Speight, William Ormond, William Harper, and John Pope should fix a place for building the court house, etc. James Glasgow, William Speight, William Ormond, Joshua Croom, and Moses Westbrook were directed to contract for the building of a court house, prison, and stocks at the place selected.

Dobbs County, created from Johnston in 1758 and named in honor of Royal Governor Arthur Dobbs was divided into Glasgow and Lenoir in 1791. Thus Dobbs and Glasgow disappeared from the list of North Carolina county names.

In 1799, the name of Glasgow County was changed to Greene in honor of Major General Nathanael Greene. James Glasgow, Secretary of State from 1777 to 1798, for whom the county had been named in 1791, had recently become involved in land frauds and an attempt to destroy the records by burning the State House. Glasgow and his accomplices were involved in issuing fraudulent land grants and were duly indicted. The residents of the county then changed its name to Greene County.

Click Here to see the approximate boundaries of Glasgow County during its brief existence.
On January 4, 1819 the North Carolina Supreme Court met for the first time as an independent body. The law that established the state's highest tribunal had been passed by the General Assembly during the previous year. However, the court's evolution can be traced back to a court established to try men accused of land fraud at the expense of former Continental Army soldiers.

In 1782, in an attempt to supply the requested number of troops for defense of the newly independent states, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an Act allowing soldiers bounty land at the completion of their military service. The methods employed in securing a bounty claim soon led to abuses by greedy speculators. As Secretary of State, James Glasgow's position aided these speculators in defrauding the former soldiers of their rightful claims.

In December of 1797, the activities of the men came to the attention of North Carolina officials, and steps were quickly taken to stop the abuses and to ensure that they could not happen again. Chiefly involved in the frauds was James Glasgow, North Carolina's Secretary of State from 1777 to 1798. Over the next two and one-half years, North Carolina and Tennessee quarreled over the ownership of the records and the apprehension and return of some of the accused.

To assist in the prosecution of the accused, the General Assembly passed a court law in December of 1799 that created a special tribunal to try the men. In June of 1800, five of the twenty-one men originally accused of fraud came to trial. Of those tried, only three, James Glasgow, Willoughby Williams, and John Bonds, were ever found guilty. Having accomplished the goal for which it was created, the court continued in existence for the remainder of its original two year commission.

When the court law expired in 1801, it was extended for three additional years and named the Court of Conference. Next, in 1804, the court became a permanent court of record. In 1805, it was renamed the Supreme Court of North Carolina. Additional changes to the court's structure and composition occurred in 1806 with the addition of another judge, and in 1810 with the creation of the office of Chief Justice. Finally, in 1818, in an attempt to correct all the problems in the existing judicial system, the Supreme Court was established as an independent body.

James Glasgow arrived in North Carolina in the early 1760s with very little, and that by 1769, he owned three slaves and 250 acres of land. By 1780, his estate was valued at over £26,150. In March of1800, just weeks before his trial, he owned twenty-two slaves and lived on a plantation of nearly 3,000 acres.

Click Here for an excellent history of James Glasgow and how his "case" was the beginnings of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Link is current as of August 2005, December 2015, and December 2019.

© 2019 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved