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advowsons are the right of appointing a parson in the Church of England to a parish or other church benefice. They can be held by the bishop of the diocese or by a patron (individual or corporate) who has the right to ‘present’ someone to the living, i.e. nominate a person to the bishop or ecclesiastical superior. The system survived from pre-Reformation power struggles between church and state until the right became protected in English civil law. Two Church of England reports in the 1960s recommended reform of the system and the Benefice Measure of 1978 provided for involvement of the parish in appointments but not for abolition of this form of patronage.

Judith Champ

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