Clerk (Ac 19:35). SEE TOWN-CLERK.
CLERK, originally and properly the name for one of the clergy (q.v.), and still the common appellation by which clergymen of the Church of England distinguish themselves in signing any legal instrument. It came afterwards, by an obvious transition, to signify a "learned man." Its most usual application in England is to that officer, now a layman, but once, in all probability, an ordained functionary, who leads the responses of the congregation. Properly speaking, in the Church of England, the clerk is not an original functionary of the congregation in the eye of the Church, which, in her rubrics, speaks mostly, if not always, of "clerks" (ordained persons); and it is certain that several duties are by custom yielded to the clerk which properly belong to the clergyman, such as the giving out of the Psalms to be sung, and the publication of notices. (See Rubric after Nicene Creed.) The appointment of parish clerks properly belongs to the incumbent. They should be licensed by the ordinary, and take an oath to obey the minister, with whom properly rests the power of removing the clerk from his office, though if he be displaced without sufficient cause a "mandamus" may restore him. By the Church Temporalities' Act for Ireland, the parish clerk is removable for any misconduct, by the minister with the consent of the bishop.