Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
(persona ecclesiae) one that hath full possession of all the rights of a parochial church. He is called parson (persona) because by his person the church, which is an invisible body, is represented, and he is in himself a body corporate, in order to protect and defend the rights of the church, which he personates. There are three ranks of clergymen below that of a dignitary, viz, parson, vicar, and curate. Parson is the first, meaning a rector, or he who receives the great tithes of a benefice. Clergymen may imply any person ordained to serve at the altar. Parsons are always priests, whereas clergymen are only deacons.
See CLERGY, CURATE.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Parson'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/p/parson.html. 1802.