AskDefine | Define prebendary

Dictionary Definition

prebendary n : a canon who receives a prebend for serving the church

User Contributed Dictionary



Mediæval Latin praebendarius, from late Latin praebenda ‘prebend’ (literally ‘things to be supplied’), neuter plural of gerundive of praebere ‘to supply’, from prae- ‘pre-’ + habere ‘have, hold’.


  • /'prɛbəndəri/


  1. an honorary canon of a cathedral or collegiate church


  1. pertaining to the office or person of a prebendary; prebendal
    • 1992: This is at least a third of the way up the career path to being a saint. Conscientious men (and women for that matter) often hear a sort of susurration in their ears when they achieve this prebendary status. — Will Self, Cock and Bull

Extensive Definition

A prebendary is a post connected to an Anglican or Catholic cathedral or collegiate church and is a type of canon. Prebendaries have a role in the administration of the cathedral. A prebend is a type of benefice, which usually consisted of the income from the cathedral estates.
When attending cathedral services prebendaries sit in particular seats, usually at the back of the choir stalls. These are known as Prebendal stalls.


Prebends and nearly all collegiate churches in England were dissolved by Henry VIII in 1547 as part of the Reformation by the Act for the Dissolution of Collegiate Churches and Chantries.
However, the title Prebendary was still retained by certain dioceses (with the Dioceses of Lichfield, Lincoln and London being significant examples) as an honorary title for senior parish priests. This is usually awarded as a recognition of long and dedicated service to the Diocese. These priests are entitled to call themselves Prebendary (usually shortened to Preb.) and still have a role in the administration of the cathedral.
The Greater Chapter of a Cathedral includes both the Residentiary Canons (the full time senior Cathedral clergy) and the Prebendaries (and in London the Minor Canons too). In the Church of England, when a diocesan bishop retires, moves to another diocese or dies, the monarch will summon the Greater Chapter to elect a successor. This election is ceremonial as the monarch also tells the members of the Greater Chapter whom to elect. If members of the Greater Chapter fail to attend they are declared to be contemptuous.
Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland, still calls its canons Prebendaries. They form the Chapter of the Cathedral, and sit in their Prebendal Stall when in Residence in the Cathedral.


External links

prebendary in German: Benefiziat
prebendary in Italian: Prebenda
prebendary in Dutch: Prebende
prebendary in Polish: Prebenda
prebendary in Swedish: Prebende
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