Patron

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PATRON, eccl. law. He who has the disposition and gift of an ecclesiastical benefice. In the Roman law it signified the former master of a freedman. Dig. 2, 4, 8, 1.

References in classic literature ?
My first contrivance was to make a pretence to speak to this Moor, to get something for our subsistence on board; for I told him we must not presume to eat of our patron's bread.
However, I was glad to see the boy so cheerful, and I gave him a dram (out of our patron's case of bottles) to cheer him up.
Says he, "If wild mans come, they eat me, you go wey." "Well, Xury," said I, "we will both go and if the wild mans come, we will kill them, they shall eat neither of us." So I gave Xury a piece of rusk bread to eat, and a dram out of our patron's case of bottles which I mentioned before; and we hauled the boat in as near the shore as we thought was proper, and so waded on shore, carrying nothing but our arms and two jars for water.
Dantes was tossed about on these doubts and wishes, when the patron, who had great confidence in him, and was very desirous of retaining him in his service, took him by the arm one evening and led him to a tavern on the Via del' Oglio, where the leading smugglers of Leghorn used to congregate and discuss affairs connected with their trade.
The patron of The Young Amelia proposed as a place of landing the Island of Monte Cristo, which being completely deserted, and having neither soldiers nor revenue officers, seemed to have been placed in the midst of the ocean since the time of the heathen Olympus by Mercury, the god of merchants and robbers, classes of mankind which we in modern times have separated if not made distinct, but which antiquity appears to have included in the same category.
The consummate art with which his patron had led him to this point, and managed the whole conversation, perfectly baffled him.
'And don't,' said his patron, with an air of the very kindest patronage, 'don't be at all downcast or uneasy respecting that little rashness we have been speaking of.
'How very sad!' exclaimed his patron, with a condescending smile.
'Faithful, I dare say?' rejoined his patron, looking at him through his glass; 'and immensely clever?
But what the patron announced was not realized; the lighter imitated the movement commanded by Fouquet, and instead of coming to join its pretended friends, it stopped short in the middle of the river.
John Baptist, looking anything but reassured, sat down on the floor at the bedside, keeping his eyes upon his patron all the time.
When the sun had raised his full disc above the flat line of the horizon, and was striking fire out of the long muddy vista of paved road with its weary avenue of little trees, a black speck moved along the road and splashed among the flaming pools of rain-water, which black speck was John Baptist Cavalletto running away from his patron.