E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Publicans of the New Testament
were the provincial underlings of the Magister or master collector who resided at Rome. The taxes were farmed by a contractor called the Manceps; this Manceps divided his contract into different societies: each society had a Magister, under whom were a number of underlings called Publicani or servants of the state.