PECULIAR, a word now generally used in the sense of that which solely or exclusively belongs to,or is particularly characteristic of, an individual; hence strange, odd, queer. The Lat. peculiaris meant primarily " belonging to private property," and is formed from peculium, private property, particularly the property given by a paterfamilias to his children, or by a master to his slave, to enjoy as their own. As a term of ecclesiastical law " peculiar " is applied to those ecclesiastical districts, parishes, chapels or churches, once numerous in England, which were outside the jurisdiction of the bishop of the diocese in which they were situated, and were subject to a jurisdiction " peculiar " to themselves. They were introduced originally, in many cases by papal authority, in order to limit the powers of the bishop in his diocese. There were royal peculiars, e^. the Chapel Royal St James's, or St George's Windsor, peculiars of the archbishop, over certain of which the Court of Peculiars exercised jurisdiction (see ARCHES, COURT OF), and peculiars of bishops and deans (see DEAN). The jurisdiction and privileges of the " peculiars " were abolished by statutory powers given to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Acts 1836 and 1850, by the Pluralities Act 1838, the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Act 1847, and other statutes.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)