Originally the endowment of one or more priests to say or sing Mass for the soul of a person specified by the endower. In most cases the incumbent was charged with other duties such as that of attending choir, of acting as chaplain to a gaol or hospital, or notably of giving instruction gratuitously. King Henry VIII and Edward VI suppressed the chantries and confiscated the moneys, inflicting grave injury on education. Between the year 1547 and 1645 no grammar school was founded in England which had not previously existed as a chantry. The term chantry was employed also to designate a small chapel specially erected for the use of the incumbent in saying or singing his Mass. Bequests for the celebration of Masses for the soul of the testator were considered illegal in England, on account of false interpretation of the Chantries Act of Edward VI, 1541, the Act of William IV, and the case of West vs. Shuttleworth, until 1919, when the appeal of Cardinal Francis Bourne for Edward Egan, who had made bequests to the Jesuits for Masses, won this privilege for Catholics.

MLA Citation

  • “chantry”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 28 October 2018. Web. 17 January 2022. <>