Church Terms

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See also General Terms, Legal Terms, Inventory Terms, Occupations and Measurements.

Church Terms

  • Advowson - The right to appoint a vicar. An advowson is a form of property which may he bought, sold or given away and is subject to civil law. It is held by a patron, who may he an individual or institution, clerical or secular.
  • Apparitor - (Summoner) An official of an ecclesiastical court who delivered summons and apprehended accused persons.
  • Appropriation - When a religious body takes over a church and has the right to appoint a vicar. The greater tithes go to the new owner, the lesser tithes to the vicar.
  • Benefice - An ecclesiastical living - property held by and used to support the rector or vicar of a parish.
  • Call Book - List of clergy and churchwardens summoned to attend a visitation.
  • Churchwarden - Parishioners elected each year by the minister and the congregation to undertake specific roles and responsibilities in the church and parish.
  • Citation - Summons to attend court.
  • Decanatus - Latin - Deanery.
  • Expeditur abbr.‘expr’ - Latin - Let him be freed.
  • Gardiani - Latin - Churchwardens.
  • Greater (rectorial) tithes - A local tax of one tenth of the years product of the arable fields and value of stock. Tithes went to support the parish priest, maintain the fabric of the church and support the poor of the parish.
  • Induction - The formal process of investing a clergyman into a benefice.
  • Jurati - Latin - Churchwardens assistants, sidesmen.
  • Lesser (vicarial) tithes - A local tax raised from labour and minor produce from the day labourers and cottagers.
  • Monitio - Latin - Admonishment. A church court case closed with a warning.
  • Nuper gardiani - Latin - Old churchwardens (those elected the previous year).
  • Perambulation - Annual Rogation week walk around the boundaries of a parish (‘beating the bounds’).
  • Presentment bills - Reports, usually made by churchwardens but sometimes by clergy, at regular visitations by the Archdeacon; they detail failings in church buildings, conduct of clergy, and conduct of parishioners.
  • Rector - Person or institution receiving the tithes of a parish. After the dissolution of the monasteries, monastic estates were sold to laymen who became lay rectors if the estate had a rectory annexed to it. A rector would appoint a vicar to carry out the day-to-day religious duties of the parish.
  • Recusancy - Deviation from the tenets of the Established (Anglican) church, usually referring to Roman Catholicism.
  • Vestry - The place where the church vestments, plate and the parish chest, containing the parish records, are kept. Vestry Meetings were held by the parishioners given responsibity for administering parish affairs and Minutes were kept by the Vestry Clerk.
  • Visitation - regular and formal visit by an Archbishop, Bishop, Archdeacon or Rural Dean to the parishes under his control, or to a convenient central meeting place, usually in conjunction with a fact-finding exercise.


University of Nottingham / Manuscripts and Special Collections/ Glossary of terms in 16th and 17th century Presentment Bills