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Benefit of Clergy

Clergy charged with felonies exempted from secular trial. Applied to all those who were tonsured (i.e. in minor as well as major orders) as well as to nuns. Extended to all those who could read a Latin passage at a time when it was assumed that only the clergy would have this skill. Not completely abolished in England until 1827 but benefit of clergy removed at the reformation for many categories of offence.