Abbies disser from Priories, in that the one are under the Direction of an Abbot, and the other of a Prior : but Abbot and Prior (we mean a Prior Conventual) are the same thing ; and only differ in Name. See PRIOR.
Fauchet observes, that in the early Days of the French Monarchy, Dukes and Counts were call'd Abbots, and Duchies and Counties Abbies. Many Persons of the prime Quality, without any Concern in the Monastic Life, took thesame Quality ; even some of their Kings are mention'd in History under the Title of Abbots. Philip I. Louis VI. and afterwards the Dukes of Orleans, are call'd Abbots of the Monastery of S. Agnan. The Dukes of Aquitain were call'd Abbots of the Monastery of S. Hilary, at Poitiers ; and the Earls of Anjou of S. Aubin, &c.
One third of the belt Benefices in England were antiently,by the Pope's Grant, appropriated to Abbies, and other Religious Houses ; which, upon their Dissolution under King Henry VIII. became Lay-Fees : 190 such were dissolv'd of between 200 l. and 35000 l. yearly Revenue, which at a Medium amounted to 2853000 l. per Annum.