COMMISSARY, an officer who is delegated by a bishop to act in a particu lar part of the diocese, to exercise juris diction similar in kind to that exercised by the chancellor of the diocese in the consistory court of the diocese. A com missary has, generally speaking, the authority of official principal and vicar general within his limits. An appeal lies from his decisions to the metropolitan. In some dioceses there is a commissary court for each archdeaconry. The Com missarial courts were established for the convenience of the people in parts of the diocese remote from the consistory court. A commissary must be learned in the civil and ecclesiastical law, a master of arts or bachelor of law, not under the age of twenty-six, and he must subscribe the Thirty-nine articles (Canon 127).
In Scotland the same classes of ques tions which in other parts of Europe were arrogated to the ecclesiastical judicatories came under the authority of the bishop's courts while the episcopal polity con tinued, and subsequently devolved on special judges, who were called commis saries. The four commissaries of Edin
burgh constituted the Supreme Commis sary Court, which had jurisdiction in questions of divorce, and of declarations of the existence or non-existence of mar riage. The district commissaries had the administrative authority of confirm ing executors to persons deceased, a func tion resembling the granting of letters of administration in England. By 4 Geo. IV. c. 97, the functions of the pro vincial commissaries were vested in the sheriffs of the respective counties, who, before the passing of that act, were usu ally appointed the commissaries of their districts. By 11 Geo. IV. 1 Wm. IV. c. 69, the jurisdiction of the commissaries of Edinburgh, as above, was vested in the Court of Session.