Patronage is the right to appoint or present a clergyman to a benefice. This right is sometimes known as an ‘advowson’. Patrons can include private individuals, the Crown, bishops, colleges, religious bodies, charities, etc. A register of patrons is maintained at the Diocesan Registry. A copy of the Patronage Register is being made available on the Norwich Diocese website for ease of reference.

A benefice may have more than one patron. Where there are two or more patrons, they may take it in turns to present a new incumbent after a benefice becomes vacant, or they may act jointly on each occasion, depending on the terms of the Pastoral Scheme which created the benefice. The Patronage Register shows which patron presented the current incumbent, and the order in which subsequent presentations may be made.

The principal law relating to patronage is contained in the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986 and the Patronage (Benefices) Rules 1987.