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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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A person who performs divine service in a chapel, or is retained in the service of some family to perform divine service. As to the origin of chaplains, some say the shrines of relics were anciently covered with a kind of tent, cape, or capella, 1:e. little cape; and that hence the priests who had the care of them were called chaplains. In time, these relics were reposited in a little church, either contiguous to a larger, or separate from it; and the name capella, which was given to the cover, was also given to the place where it was lodged; and hence the priest who superintended it came to be called capellanus, or chaplain. According to a statute of Henry VIII. the persons vested with a power of retaining chaplains, together with the number each is allowed to qualify, are as follow: an archbishop eight; a duke or bishop six; marquis or earl five; viscount four; baron, knight of the garter, or lord chancellor, three: a duchess, marchioness, countess, baroness, the treasurer or comptroller of the king's house, clerk of the closet, the king's secretary, dean of the chapel, almoner, and master of the rolls, each of them two; chief justice of the king's bench, and ward of the cinque ports, each one. All these chaplains may purchase a license or dispensation, and take two benefices, with cure of souls.

A chaplain must be retained by letters testimonial under hand and seal, for it is not sufficient that he serve as chaplain in the family. In England there are forty-eight chaplains to the king, who wait four each month, preach in the chapel, read the service to the family, and to the king in his private oratory, and say grace in the absence of the clerk of the closet. While in waiting, they have a table and attendance, but no salary. In Scotland, the king has six chaplains with a salary of 50l. each; three of them having in addition the deanery of the chapel royal divided between them, making up above 100l. to each. Their only duty at present is to say prayers at the election of peers for Scotland to sit in parliament.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Chaplain'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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