SACRILEGE is "the felonious taking of any goods out of any parish-church or other church or chapel." By the common law it was a capital offence, though the offender KT= to have been entitled to the benefit of clergy at the discretion of the ordinary. But even if it were not clergyable at the common law, yet the statute, 25 Edw. III. c. 4, "De Clero," comprehended this as well as other crimes, and gave " the privilege of holy church to all manner of clerks, as well secular as religious." Afterwards, by the statutes of 23 Hen. VIII., c. 1, and 25 Hen. VIII., c. 3, revived by 5 & 61:dw. VI., c. 10, all persons not in holy orders were excluded from the benefit of clergy who on an indictment for robbing any church, chapel, or other holy place were convicted, stood mute, or peremptorily challenged more than twenty of the jurors ; and by 3 & 4 Will. & Mary, c. 9, the same consequences followed upon their outlawry. It seems, however, that no sacrilege came within these statutes which was not accompanied by an actual breaking of a church, &c. But by 1 Edw. VI., c. 12, all persons in general were deprived of their clergy for the felonious taking of any goods out of any pariah-church or other church or chapel in all cases, except that of challenging more than twenty jurors : and by 3 & 4 Will. & Mary, c. 9, upon such a challenging, as well as upon conviction, itc., upon an indictment, whether in the same county wherein the sacrilege was committed, or in a different one. It seems that sacrilege was the
only felony at common law which deprived the offender of the privilege of sanctuary.
The present state of the law of sacrilege depends on the statute 7 & 8 Geo. IV., c. 29, s. 10, which enacts that "if any person shall break and enter any church or chapel, and steal therein any chattel, or having stolen any chattel in any church or chapel, shall break out of the same, every such offender, being convicted thereof, shall suffer death as a felon." By 9 Geo. IV., c. 55, s. 10, the same protectiou was extended to meeting-houses and all places of divine worship.
By the statute 5 & 6 Will. IV., c. 81, the punishment of death was abolished, and transportation for life or for any term not less than seven years, or imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding four years, was substituted in its place. These penalties were again altered by 6 Will. IV., c. 4, which limited the term of imprisonment to three years, and gave to the court a discre tionary power of awarding any period of solitary confinement during such term. But now, by the statute 7 Will. IV. and 1 Vic. c. 90, s. 5, no offender may be kept in solitary confinement for more than one month at a time, or three months in the space of one year. And eye 16 & 17 Viet. c. 99.