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The word clericus—clerk—was one of very wide and rather vague significance, and included not only the various grades of clerks in orders, of whom we have spoken, but also all men who followed any kind of occupation which involved the use of reading and writing; finally, every man who could read might claim the “benefit of clergy,” i.e., the legal immunities of a clerk.

The Project Gutenberg eBook, Scenes and Characters of the Middle Ages, by Edward Lewes Cutts
Published in 1911