Rural Dean, a designation of a class of very ancient officers of the Church, who, being parish priests, executed the bishop's processes, inspected the lives and manners of the clergy and people within their district, and reported the same to the bishop. In order that they might have knowledge of the state of their respective deaneries, they had power to convene rural chapters. Much of their authority at the present day rests on custom and precedent. Their duties and powers vary in different dioceses. SEE DEAN.