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benefit of clergy

Definition of benefit of clergy in English:

1 historical Exemption of the English clergy and nuns from the jurisdiction of the ordinary civil courts, granted in the Middle Ages but abolished in 1827.
Example sentences
  • In England and America, branding on the thumb was a standard non-capital sentence for those granted benefit of clergy after conviction for many crimes such as grand larceny.
  • Much of this disparity was due to the fact that women could not plead benefit of clergy, a legal fiction that helped a great many male thieves escape with a branding.
  • In the 12th cent. the boundaries between royal and ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the extent of benefit of clergy were hotly disputed and contributed much to the conflict between Henry II and Becket.
2Ecclesiastical sanction or approval: they lived together without benefit of clergy
More example sentences
  • Men and women living together and having sexual relations ‘without benefit of clergy,’ as the old phrasing goes, became not merely an accepted lifestyle, but the dominant lifestyle in the under-30 demographic within the past few years.
  • She generally portrayed a successful career woman pursued by a chauvinist (usually Rock Hudson), to whom she eventually decides to give herself without benefit of clergy.
  • Dedicating and consecrating, commemorating and celebrating - all these can be done ‘without benefit of clergy.’
See parent entry: benefit

Definition of benefit of clergy in:

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