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American Dictionary of the English Language

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Clergy


CLERGY, noun

1. The body of men set apart, and consecrated, by due ordination, to the service of God, in the christian church; the body of ecclesiastics, in distinction from the laity.

2. The privilege or benefit of clergy

If convicted of a clergyable felony, he is entitled equally to his clergy after as before conviction.

Benefit of clergy in English law, originally the exemption of the persons of clergymen from criminal process before a secular judge; or a privilege by which a clerk or person in orders claimed to be delivered to his ordinary to purge himself of felony. But this privilege has been abridged and modified by various statutes. In the United States, no benefit of clergy exists.