FACULTY (through the French, from the Lat. facultas, ability to do anything, from facilis, easy, facere, to do; another form of the word in Lat. facilitas, facility, ease, keeps the original meaning), power or capacity of mind or body for particular kinds of activity, feeling, etc. In the early history of psychology the term was applied to various mental processes considered as causes or conditions of the mind - a treatment of "class concepts of mental phenomena as if they were real forces producing these phenomena" (G.F. Stout, Analytic Psychology, vol. i. p. 17). In medieval Latin facultas was used to translate in the Aristotelian application of the word to a branch of learning or knowledge, and thus it is particularly applied to the various departments of knowledge as taught in a university and to the body of teachers of the particular art or science taught. The principal "faculties" in the medieval universities were theology, canon and civil law, medicine and arts (see Universities). A further extension of this use is to the body of members of any particular profession.
In law, "faculty" is a dispensation or licence to do that which is not permitted by the common law. The word in this sense is used only in ecclesiastical law. A faculty may be granted to be ordained deacon under twenty-three years of age; to hold two livings at once (usually called a licence or dispensation, but granted under the seal of the office of faculties; see Benefice); to be married at any place or time (usually called a special licence; see Marriage; Licence); to act as a notary public (q.v.). Any alteration in a church, such as an addition or diminution in the fabric or the utensils or ornaments of the church, cannot strictly be made without the legal sanction of the ordinary, which can only be expressed by the issue of a faculty. So a faculty would be required for a vault, for the removal of a body, for the purpose of erecting monuments, for alterations in a parsonage house, for brick graves, for the apportionment of a seat, etc. Cathedrals, however, are exempt from the necessity for a faculty before making alterations in the fabric, utensils or ornaments.
The court of faculties is the court of the archbishop for granting faculties. It is a court in which there is no litigation or holding of pleas. Its chief officer is called the master of faculties, and he is one and the same with the judge of the court of arches. Attached to the court of faculties are a registrar and deputy registrars, a chief clerk and record-keeper, and a seal keeper. In Scotland the society of advocates of the court of session, and local bodies of legal practitioners, are described as faculties.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)