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A prebendary is a post connected to an Anglican or Catholic cathedral or collegiate church and is a type of canon. Prebendaries have a role in the administration of the cathedral. A prebend is a type of benefice, which usually consisted of the income from the cathedral estates.

When attending cathedral services prebendaries sit in particular seats, usually at the back of the choir stalls. These are known as prebendal stalls.


Prebends and nearly all collegiate churches in England were dissolved by Henry VIII in 1547 as part of the English Reformation by the Act for the Dissolution of Collegiate Churches and Chantries. St Endellionmarker, Cornwall, is one of those still in existence.

The title Prebendary was still retained by certain dioceses however, with the dioceses of Lichfieldmarker, Lincolnmarker and Londonmarker being significant examples, as an honorary title for senior parish priests. This is usually awarded as a recognition of long and dedicated service to the diocese. These priests are entitled to call themselves Prebendary (usually shortened to Preb.) and still have a role in the administration of the cathedral.

The Greater Chapter of a cathedral includes both the Residentiary Canons (the full time senior cathedral clergy) and the prebendaries (and in London the minor canons too). In the Church of England, when a diocesan bishop retires, moves to another diocese or dies, the monarch will summon the Greater Chapter to elect a successor. This election is ceremonial as the monarch also tells the members of the Greater Chapter whom to elect. If members of the Greater Chapter fail to attend they are declared to be contemptuous.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublinmarker, Ireland, still calls its canons Prebendaries as does Wells Cathedralmarker. They form the Chapter of the cathedral, and sit in their prebendal stall when in residence in the cathedral.


  • Cutts, E. L. (1895) A Dictionary of the Church of England; 3rd ed. London: S.P.C.K., p. 476

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