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ALMONER, an officer charged with the distribution of alms, primarily for a religious house or bishop (from Lat. eleemosy narius, through M. Lat. almonarius and Fr. almosnier). Almoners attached to the French court appear early, but the title of grand almoner of France first appears in 1486. The office, which ac quired great importance through its control of preferments, was revived by Napoleon I. and again by Napoleon III., but was abolished in 187o. In England the offices of hereditary grand almoner (a sinecure held by the marquess of Exeter), and lord high almoner still exist. The latter, usually a bishop or other prelate, distributes the royal alms of silver pennies on Maundy Thursday (q.v.).