The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Patron \Pa"tron\, n. [F., fr. L. patronus, fr. pater a father.
See Paternal, and cf. Patroon, Padrone, Pattern.]
1. One who protects, supports, or countenances; a defender.
"Patron of my life and liberty." --Shak. "The patron of
true holiness." --Spenser.
2. (Rom. Antiq.)
(a) A master who had freed his slave, but still retained
some paternal rights over him.
(b) A man of distinction under whose protection another
person placed himself.
(c) An advocate or pleader.
Let him who works the client wrong
Beware the patron's ire. --Macaulay.
3. One who encourages or helps a person, a cause, or a work;
a furtherer; a promoter; as, a patron of art.
4. (Eccl. Law) One who has gift and disposition of a
5. A guardian saint. -- called also patron saint.
6. (Naut.) See Padrone, 2.
Patrons of Husbandry, the grangers. See Granger, 2.