1818, on model of German clerisei, from Late Latin clericia, related to clericus (see cleric); apparently coined by Coleridge, who used it to mean "the learned men of a nation, its poets, philosophers, and scholars," "to express a notion no longer associated with CLERGY" [OED]. But since the 1840s it has since sometimes been used in the sense "the clergy," as distinguished from the laity.
The clerisy of the nation (a far apter exponent of the thing meant, than the term which the usus et norma loquendi forces on me), the clerisy, I say, or national church, in its primary acceptation and original intention comprehended the learned of all denominations;--the sages and professors of law and jurisprudence; of medicine and physiology; of music; of military and civil architec[t]ure; of the physical sciences; with the mathematical as the common organ of the preceding; in short, all the so called liberal arts and sciences, the possession and application of which constitute the civilization of a country, as well as the Theological. [Coleridge, "On the Constitution of the Church and State," 1830]
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