Advowson

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For the process for appointing a parish priest in the Church of England, see Parish.


Advowson is the right in English law of a patron (avowee) to present or appoint a nominee to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice or church living, a process known as presentation. In effect this means the right to nominate a person to hold a church office in a parish. It is also known as advocation or patronage.

An advowson was regarded as property, and could be bought and sold, as well as bequeathed but following reforms of parish administration in the 19th century it had little commercial value. Advowsons were valued for a number of reasons, including as a means for the patron to influence the parish through the appointee or to simply reward the appointee for services rendered. A benefice could include a house as well as the income, which would provide for the incumbent, and the value of the advowson would vary accordingly. Occasionally advowsons were purchased to provide for descendants of a family, but most appointments were subject to the approval of the bishop of the diocese.

At one time annexed to a manor or estate (which will have provided the land on which the church was built if not the building as well), many advowsons were sold off.

The right to advowson originated in the rights of a feudal lord to control the churches on his estates. Canon law, however, by the 12th century, decreed that...
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