An almsman was a royal clerk or priest whose service for his holding was rendered in prayers. In several counties the king's almsmen were listed together in collective fiefswhich were occasionally devoted entirely to royal priests, but more often grouped with other minor tenants-in-chief generally under the heading of royal thanes or sergeants. Their holdings were often well-endowed minster churches, many on royal estates. A few of these almsmen held several of these minsters in plurality, placing them among the wealthier landholders in the country.
The royal almsmen included some distinguished royal officials, notably Reinbald of Cirencester, the first known chancellor of England, and Ranulf Flambard, future bishop of Durham, chief minister of William Rufus and according to one thesis the master-mind behind Domesday Book.
For more detail on royal almsmen, see John Blair, 'Secular minster churches in Domesday Book', Domesday Book: a reassessment, edited by Peter H. Sawyer (1985), pages 104-42; and John Blair, The Church in Anglo-Saxon Society (2005), chapter 6.