INCUMBENT (from Lat. incumbere, to lean, lie upon), a general term for the holder (rector, vicar, curate in charge) of an ecclesiastical benefice (see Benefice). In Scotland the title is generally confined to clergy of the Episcopal Church. The word in this application is peculiar to English. Du Cange (Glossarium, s.v. " Incumbens") says that the Jurisconsulti use incumbere in the sense of obtinere, possidere, but the sense may be transferred from the general one of that which rests or is laid on one as a duty which is also found in post-classical Latin; to be "diligently resident" in a parish or benefice, has also been suggested as the source of the meaning.
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