Prebend (from the Lat. praebenda, provender, i.e. an allowance of food, from praebere, to furnish), in its common acceptation signifies an allowance or provision of any sort. As an ecclesiastical term it denoted originally any stipend or reward given out of the ecclesiastical revenues to a person who had by his labors procured benefit to the Church. SEE BENEFICE. When, in the course of the 10th century, the cathedral churches having then become well endowed — left off receiving the income of their lands into one common bank, and the members of most cathedral and collegiate churches ceased living in common and separated from the episcopal mensal property, certain shares or portions fell to all those so entitled. Besides, the lands were parceled out in shares, and the income thus obtained was used for the support of all the clergymen within the cathedral territory. After the definite constitution of chapters for the maintenance of the daily religious services in the bishop's church, or in other churches similarly established, endowments were assigned to them, which were to be distributed (praebendae) in fixed proportions among the members. These portions were called portiones canonicae or prebendae. Hence arose the difference between a prebend and a canonry (q.v.). A canonry was a right which a person had in a church to be (deemed a member thereof, to have the right of a stall therein, and of giving a vote in the chapter; but a prebend was a right to receive certain revenues appropriated to his place. The number of prebends in the several cathedral churches is increased by the benefit of the revenues of the rural clergy, and oftentimes by exonerating the lands of prebends from paying tithes to the ministers of the parishes where they lay. To the prebend was commonly attached a residence; and when an insufficient number of houses existed, the oldest prebendaries enjoyed their advantages in exchange for a fixed tax, until it became the practice to pay small indemnities to those who had no houses, and these payments were called distributiones. In England there is a trace, previous to the arrival of William I, of the tenure of distinct lands, afterwards made prebendal, at St. Paul's; but the definite name of prebends is not much earlier than the time of Edward I. In the time of Henry III the bursaries, prebends paid out of the bishop's purse, were reconstituted at Lichfield, and endowed with lands. It is a separate endowment impropriated, as distinguished from the communua, manors or revenues appropriated to maintain all the capitular members. At Lincoln, in the 11th century, forty-two prebends were founded; in the 12th century, at Wells, the prebends were formally distinguished and the dignities founded; in the 13th century fourteen prebends were founded at Llandaff. At York archbishop Thomas divided the lands of the common fund into separate prebends; these were augmented by archbishops Grey and Romaine, who added the last stall in the 13th century. In the 16th century bishop Sherborne founded four stalls at Chichester, the latest endowed in England. The prebends were divided into stalls of priests, deacons, sand sub deacons, a certain number coming up to reside in stated courses; but in 1343 all the stalls of York were declared to be sacerdotal. Dignitaries almost invariably held a prebend attached to their stall.

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