Patronage

The right of a patron to nominate for appointment to, and to help to administer, a benefice. It originates from Anglo-Saxon times when a landowner felt it a duty to build a church and provide a priest for those who lived on his estate. These were approved by the bishops, who themselves set up similar churches on their own estates. Because patronage was often attached to land and carried with it income, it became a central feature in struggles between church and state. After the dissolution of the monasteries there was a distribution of patronage. In the Church of England it is now held by archbishops and bishops, private individuals, universities and colleges, trusts, cathedral chapters, the Crown, incumbents of mother churches, and diocesan boards of patronage. When a vacancy arises, the patron obtains the views of the churchwardens and the parochial church councils, who have the right to state the needs and conditions of the parish and to resist any nominee whom they do not consider suitable for their requirements. The patron must receive the support of the bishop for his nominee. In England patronage is now increasingly coming under the control of the ecclesiastical authorities.