APPROPRIATION (from Lat. appropriare, to set aside), the act of setting apart and applying to a particular use to the exclusion of all other. In ecclesiastical law, appropriation is the perpetual annexation of an ecclesiastical benefice to the use of some spiritual corporation, either aggregate or sole. In the middle ages in England the custom grew up of the monasteries reserving to their own use the greater part of the tithes of their appropriated benefices, leaving only a small portion to their vicars in the parishes. On the dissolution of the monasteries these “great tithes” were often granted, with the monastic lands, to laymen, whose successors, known as “lay impropriators” or “lay rectors,” still hold them, the system being known as impropriation. Appropriation may be severed and the church become disappropriate, by the presentation of a clerk, properly instituted and inducted, or by the dissolution of the corporation possessing the benefice.
In the law of debtor and creditor, appropriation of payments is the application of a particular payment for the purpose of paying a particular debt. When a creditor has two debts due to him from the same debtor on distinct accounts, the general law as to the appropriation of payments made by the debtor is that the debtor is entitled to apply the payments to such account as he thinks fit; solvitur in modum solventis. In default of appropriation by the debtor the creditor is entitled to determine the application of the sums paid, and may appropriate them even to the discharge of debts barred by the Statute of Limitations. In default of appropriation by either debtor or creditor, the law implies an appropriation of the earlier payments to the earlier debts.
In constitutional law, appropriation is the assignment of money for a special purpose. In the United Kingdom an Appropriation Bill is a bill passed at the end of each session of parliament, enumerating the money grants made during the session, and appropriating the various sums, as voted by committee of supply, to the various purposes for which it is to be applied. The United States constitution (art. I. § 9) says: “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” Bills for appropriating money originate in the House of Representatives, but may be amended in the Senate.