PREBEND: The term applied originally to the food given to monks or clergy at their common table; later it was made to include the Benefice (q.v.), when, in consequence of the breaking-up of community life, the revenues of the corporate foundations were divided and fixed incomes were assigned to individual members of such foundations. Although this process did not everywhere lead to the creation of prebends, wherever they were thus established a portion of the revenues was still reserved for daily distribution so that the term "prebend" sometimes retained its original application. As a rule, however, a distinction is drawn between prebends and daily allotments. To the prebend belong fixed and definite revenues, including tithes, usufruct of certain real estate, and especially a residence for each prebendary. There are also various distributions from endowments, although these as a rule apply only to actual residents.


In English ecclesiastical law, which here as everywhere is closely connected with common usage, the term prebend is used for any endowment given to a cathedral or collegiate church for the maintenance of a clergyman. A canonry is a right to a place in the cathedral chapter and stall in the choir, a prebend is the income for the support of the canon. Hence prebendary and canon are commonly used as equivalent. In strictness prebend and prebendary are more inclusive terms, as some in receipts of prebends are not members of the chapter and therefore are not canons. It is not necessary that a prebendary be resident; he may have a benefice elsewhere with cure of souls, where he must live except when at the cathedral for his term of service.