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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Profiles of previous Archbishops of York

 Some of the more unusual Archbishops...

Lancelot Blackburne 1724-1743

During the 1680's and following his ordination, Lancelot went to the West Indies and obtained a position as a ship's chaplain. He received a payment of £20 for discharging his duties diligently. The payment, a considerable sum at the time, was due to the fact he was aboard a privateer (pirate ship!)

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey 1514-1530

One of the most unusual Archbishops of York as he never came to the city! After failing to negociate a divorce for Henry VIII with the Pope, he travelled to Cawood Castle and spent the night there prior to his enthronement. Thomas Wolsey had been the Archbishop of York for 16 years but was arrested the morning of his enthronment by Henry VIII men. He died on his return to London in the custody of the King's men.

Richard le Scrope 1398-1405

Beheaded on the Knavesmire following his trial for treason in the Great Hall during Henry IV reign. He asked the executioner to strike him five times with the sword. Each strike was to represent the five wounds on Christ's body on the cross. Richard Le Scrope was interred at York Minster.

Edward Venables Vernon Harcourt (1807-1847) and Walter de Grey (1215-1255) were also notable as each served for a period of 40 years.

For all previous Archbishops

For a full and comprehensive list of previous Archbishops from 627 to 2007, or for more information about Bishopthorpe Palace, the home of the Archbishops' of York.

20th Century Archbishops

William McClaggen 1891-1908

Responsible for the renovation of the Chapel. Buried alongside his wife at St Andrews Church, Bishopthorpe

Cosmo Gordon Lang 1909-1928

The first Archbishop ever to have a motor car, he went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury and confirmed a young Princess Elizabeth.

William Temple 1929-1942

A great social reformer and keen on working classes having basic rights. Moved to Canterbury in 1942 but died only three years later.

Cyril Garbett 1942-1955

Known as a strong, often ruthless character who was respected rather than loved. Worked hard for the Diocese of York, transforming its ministry and mission. Preached at the Royal Wedding in 1947. Died whilst in office.

Michael Ramsey 1956-1961

Went on to become the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury but enjoyed his six years at Bishopthorpe and was much loved in the village. He was a great teacher particularly on key spiritual issues. He and Lady Ramsey returned to live at Bishopthorpe for some months not long before he died in Oxford.

Donald Coggan 1961-1974

Another Archbishop of York who went on to Canterbury. An evangelical by tradition he was a great teacher and will always be remembered for his great Call to the North Mission in the seventies. He was a poignant preacher and pastorally very sensitive to issues which people faced in the reality of their lives.

Stuart Blanch 1975-1983

During the Second World War Blanch was a Navigator in the Royal Air Force and Blanch was undoubtedly a man of the people. He brought a softer touch to the post than Coggan - not in his theology but in his warm, friendly smile and wonderful personality.

John Habgood 1983-1995

A well respected scientist, Lord Habgood was an intellectual heavy weight who guided the Church Of England through some difficult times with the help of his colleagues Lord Runcie and George Carey at Lambeth Palace. Shy and retiring he is a superb speaker and lecturer.

David Hope 1995-2005

Together with the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote to Tony Blair expressing deep concern about Government policy and criticised the coalition troops' conduct in Iraq. Former Bishop of Wakefield and London he retired due to ill-health in 2005 to the parish of St. Margaret's, Ilkley.

Dr John Sentamu Archbishop of York John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu 2005 - to present date

For a full biography about the most recent and 97th Archbishop of York.