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4 definitions found
 for Benefit of clergy
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Benefit \Ben"e*fit\, n. [OE. benefet, benfeet, bienfet, F.
     bienfait, fr. L. benefactum; bene well (adv. of bonus good) +
     factum, p. p. of facere to do. See Bounty, and Fact.]
     1. An act of kindness; a favor conferred.
        [1913 Webster]
              Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his
              benefits.                             --Ps. ciii. 2.
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     2. Whatever promotes prosperity and personal happiness, or
        adds value to property; advantage; profit.
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              Men have no right to what is not for their benefit.
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     3. A theatrical performance, a concert, or the like, the
        proceeds of which do not go to the lessee of the theater
        or to the company, but to some individual actor, or to
        some charitable use.
        [1913 Webster]
     4. Beneficence; liberality. [Obs.] --Webster (1623).
        [1913 Webster]
     5. pl. Natural advantages; endowments; accomplishments. [R.]
        "The benefits of your own country." --Shak.
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     Benefit of clergy. (Law) See under Clergy.
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     Syn: Profit; service; use; avail. See Advantage.
          [1913 Webster]

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Clergy \Cler"gy\, n. [OE. clergie, clergi, clerge, OF. clergie,
     F. clergie (fr. clerc clerc, fr. L. clericus priest) confused
     with OF. clergi['e], F. clerg['e], fr. LL. clericatus office
     of priest, monastic life, fr. L. clericus priest, LL.
     scholar, clerc. Both the Old French words meant clergy, in
     sense 1, the former having also sense 2. See Clerk.]
     [1913 Webster]
     1. The body of men set apart, by due ordination, to the
        service of God, in the Christian church, in distinction
        from the laity; in England, usually restricted to the
        ministers of the Established Church. --Hooker.
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     2. Learning; also, a learned profession. [Obs.]
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              Sophictry . . . rhetoric, and other cleargy. --Guy
                                                    of Warwick.
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              Put their second sons to learn some clergy. --State
                                                    Papers (1515).
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     3. The privilege or benefit of clergy.
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              If convicted of a clergyable felony, he is entitled
              equally to his clergy after as before conviction.
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     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).
     Regular clergy, Secular clergy See Regular, n., and
        Secular, a.
        [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  benefit of clergy
      n 1: sanction by a religious rite; "they are living together
           without benefit of clergy"

From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) :

  BENEFIT OF CLERGY, English law. An exemption of the punishment of death 
  which the laws impose on the commission of certain crimes, on the culprit 
  demanding it. By modern statute's, benefit of clergy was rather a 
  substitution of a more mild punishment for the punishment of death. 
       2. It was lately granted, not only to the clergy, as was formerly the 
  case, but to all persons. The benefit of clergy seems never to have been 
  extended to the crime of high treason, nor to have embraced misdemeanors 
  inferior to felony. Vide 1 Chit. Cr. Law, 667 to 668 4 Bl. Com. ch. 28. But 
  this privilege improperly given to the clergy, because they had more 
  learning than others) is now abolished by stat. 7 Geo. IV. c. 28, s. 6. 
       3. By the Act of Congress of April 30, 1790, it is provided, Sec. 30, 
  that the benefit of clergy shall not be used or allowed, upon conviction of 
  any crime, for which, by any statute of the United States, the punishment 
  is, or shall be declared to be, death. 

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