The Latin term beneficium, meaning “for the benefit [of the tenant]”, was used in feudal societies to denote a grant of land for life as a reward for services rendered. In canon law it later came to mean an ecclesiastical office which imposed duties or conditions for the discharge of which the holder – known as a rector or a vicar in the Church of England – would be rewarded with certain revenues.[1]

In the present-day Church of England a benefice does not correspond to a geographical area such as a parishAncient or ancient ecclesiastical parishes encompassed groups of villages and hamlets and their adjacent lands, over which a clergyman had jurisdiction., but is the office to which an incumbent is appointed.[2] As church attendances have declined in recent years, many parishes have been forced to work together under a single incumbent as a multi-parish benefice.