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Archbishop of Wales

The post of Archbishop of Wales was created in 1920 when the Church in Wales was separated from the Church of England (of which the four Welsh dioceses had previously been part), and disestablished. The new Church became the Welsh province of the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop of Wales
John Davies
Ecclesiastical provinceChurch in Wales

Unlike the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who are appointed by the Queen upon the advice of the Prime Minister, the Archbishop of Wales is one of the six diocesan bishops of Wales, elected to hold this office in addition to his or her own diocese.

With the establishment of the new province, there was debate as to whether a specific see should be made the primatial see, or if another solution should be adopted. Precedents were sought in the early history of Christianity in Wales, with St David's having a debatable pre-eminence among the sees. A Roman Catholic Archbishopric of Cardiff had been created in 1916. Instead it was decided that one of the diocesan bishops should hold the title Archbishop of Wales in addition to his own see. The circulating character of the post was justified by Welsh geography and by the ecclesiastical precedent of the province of Numidia (of which St. Augustine of Hippo had been a bishop). The Archbishop is chosen in Llandrindod Wells, being a central point in the Country. The first Archbishop was chosen in the Old Parish Church in Llandrindod, but in more recent years, Holy Trinity Church has been used.

Successive archbishops have not only represented different geographical areas but also different tendencies within Anglicanism. In the mid-twentieth century linguistic issues were prominent in the successive incumbencies of Edwin Morris (who spoke no Welsh) and of Glyn Simon (who sympathised with advocates of the use of the Welsh language). Morris in some ways represented the broad churchmanship characteristic of the first occupant of the newly created post, A. G. Edwards, whereas Simon in many respects inherited the Anglo-Catholic outlook of the second archbishop, Charles Green (but without his authoritarianism). Towards the end of his period in office Gwilym Williams was one of three leading Welsh figures in a deputation to guarantee the status of the language which had been challenged by Margaret Thatcher. He was also decisive in the decision to ordain women priests. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, was Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Monmouth.

Williams was succeeded by Barry Morgan, who signed 'Barry Cambrensis'. Morgan oversaw the first consecration of a female bishop in the province, and was noted for his radicalism in other fields including same sex marriage and political development. At the time of his retirement in 2017, he was the senior archbishop in the Anglican Communion by length of service.[1]

The current archbishop is John Davies, the senior bishop in the Church in Wales, who was elected on 6 September 2017 after acting as archbishop following Morgan's retirement. He is the first Bishop of Swansea and Brecon to hold the post of archbishop.[2] Edwards, the first archbishop, Bishop of St Asaph, was supported by the sole Bishop of Maenan;[3] Barry Morgan was supported by an Assistant Bishop of Llandaff.

List of Archbishops of WalesEdit

Archbishops of Wales
From Until Incumbent Notes
1920 1934   Alfred George Edwards Also Bishop of St Asaph from 1889.
1934 1944   Charles Green Previously Bishop of Monmouth; also Bishop of Bangor from 1928; died in office.
1944 1949   David Prosser Also Bishop of St David's from 1926.
1949 1957   John Morgan Previously Bishop of Swansea and Brecon; also Bishop of Llandaff from 1939; died in office.
1957 1967   Edwin Morris Also Bishop of Monmouth from 1945.
1968 1971   Glyn Simon Previously Bishop of Swansea and Brecon; also Bishop of Llandaff from 1957.
1971 1981   Gwilym Williams Also Bishop of Bangor from 1957.
1983 1986   Derrick Childs Also Bishop of Monmouth from 1970.
1986 1991   George Noakes Also Bishop of St David's from 1981.
1991 1999   Alwyn Rice Jones Also Bishop of St Asaph from 1981.
1999 2002   Rowan Williams Also Bishop of Monmouth from 1992; translated to Canterbury.
2002 2017   Barry Morgan Previously Bishop of Bangor; also Bishop of Llandaff from 1999.[4]
2017 incumbent John Davies Also Bishop of Swansea and Brecon since 2008.[5]


  1. ^ Williamson, David (29 January 2017). "Wales is about to lose a radical archbishop as Barry Morgan retires". Wales Online. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  2. ^ Morrell, Anna (6 September 2017). "New Archbishop of Wales elected". Church in Wales. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Bishop-Suffragan of St. Asaph". Church Times (#3435). 23 November 1928. p. 601. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 6 October 2017 – via UK Press Online archives.
  4. ^ Church in Wales — Archbishop of Wales to retire in January (Accessed 26 August 2016)
  5. ^ "Bishop John Davies chosen as new Archbishop of Wales". BBC News. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Historical successions: Archbishops of Wales". Crockford's Clerical Directory. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  7. ^ "Previous Archbishops of Wales". Church in Wales. Retrieved 17 July 2012.