Patronage is the right to appoint or present a clergyman to a benefice. Patrons include private individuals, the Crown, bishops, colleges, religious bodies, charities, etc. A register of patrons is maintained at the Diocesan Registry.
A benefice may have more than one patron. Where there are two or more patrons, they may take it in turns to present a new incumbent after a benefice becomes vacant, or they make act jointly on each occasion, depending on the terms of the Pastoral Scheme which created the benefice. The attached List of Patrons shows the turns of presentation for each benefice in the diocese as at the date stated at the top of the document.
Appointment of a Parish Priest
The above-mentioned Measure and Rules set out the procedure to be followed for selecting a new incumbent when a benefice becomes vacant.
Under the provisions of the Pastoral Measure 1983, the Bishop has the power to suspend the patron's right of presentation to the vacant benefice, in order to allow plans for pastoral reorganisation to be considered or implemented. In such a case the Bishop may wish to appoint a priest-in-charge. Although a priest-in-charge is legally different from an incumbent, in that a priest-in-charge does not have a freehold, their respective responsibilities in the parish are the same, and parishioners will be unlikely to know that there is a difference. Moreover the procedures for appointment are very similar.
The Bishop has prepared a document entitled Appointment of a Parish Priest, which explains the procedures for appointing an incumbent and a priest-in-charge. Both procedures involve the preparation by the parish(es) of a Parish Profile. The Parish Profile form and some guidance notes can be downloaded in .DOC and .PDF formats:
The following forms are prescribed by the Patronage (Benefices) Rules 1987 for use by Patrons and Parochial Church Councils in connection with the appointment of an incumbent (but not in the case of the appointment of a priest-in-charge). Click on a form below to display the form. The forms (and the two documents mentioned above) are in .PDF format. If you need to download the Acrobat Reader in order to view them, go to the Home page, where there is a link to enable you to download and install the Reader. Alternatively, you can download Patronage Forms in Word Format.
- Form 15 Patron's Declaration (an individual)/Appointment of Representative
- A patron who wishes to exercise his right of presentation must make a declaration that he is a communicant member of the Church of England. In such case the patron should complete Part A of Form 15. If the patron is unable to make the declaration, or wishes someone else (who can make the declaration of membership of the Church of England) to act on the patron's behalf, then the patron should ask the patron's representative to complete the declaration in Part B of Form 15.
- Form 16 Appointment of Representative by Patron (not an individual)
- Where a right of presentation is not vested in an individual, for example, where it is vested in a charity or a university college, Form 16 should be used instead of Form 15. The form states who has been nominated to represent the body concerned, and the representative makes the declaration of membership of the Church of England.
- Form 34 Appointment of Parish Representatives
- This form records the resolutions, under the House of Bishops' Declaration, passed at the special meeting of the PCC(s) which must be called following a Notice of Vacancy in Form 31 sent by the Designated Officer.
- Form 35 Bishop or Patron's Request for Section 12 Meeting
- Within 10 days of receiving the Form 34 and parish statement, the Bishop or the patron may use this form to give notice to the PCC(s) that they wish to have a joint meeting to discuss the contents of the statement. The meeting must be held within six weeks, and the PCC Secretary or Secretaries must give at least 14 days notice of the meeting to all entitled to attend, unless all agree to the meeting being held at shorter Notice.
- Form 36 Approval by Bishop of Offer of Benefice
- When a priest is willing to accept an offer to fill the vacancy, the patron must seek the Bishop's approval of the making of the offer by completing the first part of the form and then sending it to the Bishop for his approval or otherwise to be endorsed on the form.
- Form 37 Approval by Parish Representatives of Offer of Benefice
- When a priest is willing to accept an offer to fill the vacancy, the patron must seek the approval of the parish representatives to the making of the offer by completing the first part of the form and then sending it to the Bishop for his approval or otherwise to be endorsed on the form.
- Form 38 Patron's Notice of Presentation
- When the patron has received both the Bishop's approval and the parish representatives’ approval, the patron should complete Form 38 and send it to the Bishop, who will then make arrangements for the institution of the new incumbent.
- Form 8 Notice to the Bishop and to the Registrar of Proposed Transfer
- A patron wishing to transfer a right of patronage should complete this form and send copies to the Bishop and to the Registrar of the Diocese. Upon receipt of Form 8, the Registrar will send copies of the notice to the PCC(s) of the benefice, who will have 28 days in which to make representations to the Bishop concerning the proposed transfer.
- Form 12 Transfer of Patronage Inter Vivos
- If no representations are made by the PCC(s), the patron will be asked to complete a transfer in Form 12 and lodge it in the Diocesan Registry, when it will be registered by the Registrar, who will send the new patron a Certificate of Registration. A new patron may not exercise the right of patronage until his name has been entered by the Registrar in the Register of Patrons, and no transfer shall take effect during a vacancy in a benefice.
- Form 13 Transfer upon Appointment of New Trustees
- Where a right of patronage is vested in trustees, and a trustee dies, or retires, or a new trustee is appointed, the other trustees should apply to the Registrar, using Form 13, for the change of trustees to be recorded in the Register of Patrons.
- Form 14 Transfer of Patronage by Personal Representatives
- Personal representatives wishing to transfer a right of patronage to the person or persons entitled to the right under a deceased patron's will, or upon an intestacy, should complete a transfer using Form 14 and send it to the Diocesan Registrar for registration, together with an Office Copy of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
During a vacancy, the Churchwardens and Rural Dean will have additional responsibilities. The following linked document entitled Responsibilities During a Vacancy contains instructions from the Bishop of Peterborough and the Bishop of Brixworth concerning the carrying out of those responsibilities.
Transfers of Patronage
A right of patronage may no longer be sold, but it may be the subject of a voluntary lifetime transfer. A right of patronage will also pass upon the death of a patron to his or her personal representatives, who may then vest the right of patronage in the person or persons who inherit the right from the deceased patron. The following are the prescribed forms to be used by patrons in connection with the transfer of rights of patronage.