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For the process for appointing a parish priest in the Church of England, see Parish.

Advowson is the right in English law of a patron (avowee) to present or appoint a nominee to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice or to a church living, a process known as presentation. In effect this means the right to nominate a person to hold a church office in a parish.[1] It is also known as advocation or patronage.

In medieval England, an advowson was regarded as property, and could be bought and sold, as well as bequeathed. Canon law, however, by the 12th century, decreed that the right to present belonged to the saint the church was dedicated to, and that only church courts could rule on cases involving advowsons. King Henry II's Constitutions of Clarendon held a differing view, and after Thomas Becket's murder, the king once more issued rules requiring cases involving advowsons to be heard by secular courts.[1]

Advowsons were one of the earliest incorporeal hereditaments. As such, courts will still occasionally look to the common law on the transfer of advowsons for guidance on the transfer of modern incorporeal hereditaments, such as farming allotments. See First Victoria Nat'l Bank v. United States, 620 F.2d 1096 (5th Cir., 1980).[2]


  1. ^ a b Saul, Nigel (2000). A Companion to Medieval England 1066–1485. Stroud: Tempus. p. 11. ISBN 0-7524-2969-8.  
  2. ^ First Victoria National Bank vs. US retrieved 1 December 2008

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