MORTUARY (Med. Lat. mortuarium, from mortuus, dead), of or belonging to the dead, or, in particular, to the burial 8 In his book Morton indulges his fondness for punning and display of Latinity by calling the place Mare-Mount (Hill by the sea).
of the dead. The chief modern use of the word is for a building in which dead bodies awaiting burial may be temporarily kept, for the purpose of inquiry, identification, post-mortem examination, etc. But it has also been applied to many subjects connected with death and burial. In monastic institutions it was the duty of the almoner to send round to other monastic houses notice of the death of a member, asking for prayers for the soul of the dead. This notice was often beautifully illuminated. On being returned with the endorsement of the monastery to which it had been sent, it would be copied into the roll. Both the notice and the roll were known as a mortuarium, or mortuary (see Abbot F. H. Gasquet's English Monastic Life, 1904). In the English Church a " mortuary " was in certain places a customary oblation or offering paid out of the estate of a deceased person to the church to which he belonged. An act of 1529 (21 Hen. VIII. c. 6) limited the amount to be paid in mortuaries, the highest being of the value of ics. in estates above 40. Mortuaries, where customary, can only be enforced in the ecclesiastical courts. The custom has entirely died out, though claims have been made from time to time.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)