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Pluralities or pluralism

The practice of holding more than one benefice (ecclesiastical offfice) simultaneously. In certain circumstances (for example, when the benefices concerned were far distant from one another) this could lead to gross abuse. At a time when it was diflficult to recruit sufficient able clergy and when ecclesiastical benefices were frequently too poorly remunerated to support well-educated and conscientious preach ers, holding livings in plurality was a practical way around the problem for both the individual ministers and the church itself. Attempts were made to curb the worst abuses. Dispensations to hold livings in plurality were issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. By the canons of 1604 it was forbidden for a minister to hold benefices in plurality if they were more than 30 miles apart.