benefit of clergy

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n benefit of clergy sanction by a religious rite "they are living together without benefit of clergy"
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Benefit of clergy (Law) See under Clergy.
    • Benefit of clergy (Eng., Law) the exemption of the persons of clergymen from criminal process before a secular judge -- a privilege which was extended to all who could read, such persons being, in the eye of the law, clerici, or clerks. This privilege was abridged and modified by various statutes, and finally abolished in the reign of George IV. (1827).
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Benefit of clergy originally an exemption of clergymen, in certain cases, from criminal process before a secular judge, but later covering the first offence of all who could read
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Etymology

Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Fr. clergé—L.,—Gr. klērikos, from klēros, a lot, then the clergy.

Usage

In literature:

He claimed benefit of clergy, which the court granted, and he read.
"Bygone Punishments" by William Andrews
The sixteen refugees were forbidden to return to Canada under penalty of death without benefit of clergy.
"The 'Patriotes' of '37" by Alfred D. Decelles
If I have been so bold to pick or snap a word from him, I hope I may have the benefit of the clergy.
"Curiosities of Literature, Vol. 3 (of 3)" by Isaac Disraeli
If I were judge I would hang him without benefit of clergy.
"The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain and Other Tales" by Hannah More
Kipling's "Without Benefit of Clergy" might have been begun so much less invitingly by one less skilled.
"The Technique of Fiction Writing" by Robert Saunders Dowst
Stealing of slaves was made felony, without benefit of clergy.
"History of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia" by Charles Campbell
He was found guilty of treason and sentenced to be boiled to death without benefit of clergy.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Slice 2" by Various
Arson was deprived of "benefit of clergy" under the Tudors, while an act of 8 Henry VI.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Slice 6" by Various
Benefit of clergy, 73.
"Norfolk Annals A Chronological Record of Remarkable Events in the Nineteeth Century, Vol. 1" by Charles Mackie
There was once a law making it felony without benefit of clergy to read the Bible in the English language.
"Speeches, Addresses, and Occasional Sermons, Volume 3 (of 3)" by Theodore Parker
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