An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


The right to appoint a member of the clergy to a parish or other ecclesiastical benefice. The term also means the patronage of a church living. The right of advowson is a property right under English law. Advowson reflects the control that was exercised by feudal lords over churches on their estates. It also reflects earlier pagan practice in Teutonic Europe. The right of advowson may be held by a bishop or by a lay patron. The patron may also be a university or corporation. The patron may nominate or present a candidate to the bishop or ecclesiastical superior, and this nomination cannot be refused without legal cause. Under English law, an advowson may be transferred by gift or sale. This practice led to abuses and scandals. There is no right of advowson in the Episcopal Church.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.