Archbishop of York

The archbishop of York is a senior bishop in the Church of England, second only to the archbishop of Canterbury. The archbishop is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of York and the metropolitan bishop of the province of York, which covers the northern regions of England (north of the Trent) as well as the Isle of Man.

Archbishop of York
Arms of the Diocese of York: Gules, two keys in saltire the wards upwards argent in chief a regal crown proper[1]
Stephen Cottrell
since 9 July 2020
StyleThe Most Reverend and Right Honourable (otherwise His Grace)
Ecclesiastical provinceYork
ResidenceBishopthorpe Palace
First holderPaulinus of York
EstablishedBishopric in 626
Archbishopric in 735
CathedralYork Minster

The archbishop's throne (cathedra) is in York Minster in central York and the official residence is Bishopthorpe Palace in the village of Bishopthorpe outside York. The current archbishop is Stephen Cottrell, since the confirmation of his election on 9 July 2020.[2]



There was a bishop in Eboracum (Roman York) from very early times; during the Middle Ages, it was thought to have been one of the dioceses established by the legendary King Lucius. Bishops of York are known to have been present at the councils of Arles (Eborius) and Nicaea (unnamed). However, this early Christian community was later destroyed by the pagan Anglo-Saxons and there is no direct succession from these bishops to the post-Augustinian ones.

Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Medieval times

The diocese was refounded by Paulinus (a member of Augustine's mission) in the 7th century. Notable among these early bishops is Wilfrid. These early bishops of York acted as diocesan rather than archdiocesan prelates until the time of Ecgbert of York,[lower-alpha 1] who received the pallium from Pope Gregory III in 735 and established metropolitan rights in the north. Until the Danish invasion the archbishops of Canterbury occasionally exercised authority, and it was not until the Norman Conquest that the archbishops of York asserted their complete independence.

At the time of the Norman invasion York had jurisdiction over Worcester, Lichfield, and Lincoln, as well as claiming the dioceses in the Northern Isles and Scotland which were in fact independent. [4] But the first three sees just mentioned were taken from York in 1072. In 1154 the suffragan sees of the Isle of Man and Orkney were transferred to the Norwegian archbishop of Nidaros (today's Trondheim), and in 1188 York finally accepted it had no authority over all of the Scottish dioceses except Whithorn, so that only the dioceses of Whithorn, Durham, and Carlisle remained to the archbishops as suffragan sees. Of these, Durham was practically independent, for the palatine bishops of that see were little short of sovereigns in their own jurisdiction. Sodor and Man were returned to York during the 14th century, to compensate for the loss of Whithorn to the Scottish Church.

Several of the archbishops of York held the ministerial office of Lord Chancellor of England and played some parts in affairs of state. As Peter Heylyn (1600–1662) wrote: "This see has yielded to the Church eight saints, to the Church of Rome three cardinals, to the realm of England twelve Lord Chancellors and two Lord Treasurers, and to the north of England two Lord Presidents." The bishopric's role was also complicated by continued conflict over primacy with the see of Canterbury.

English Reformation

At the time of the English Reformation, York possessed three suffragan sees, Durham, Carlisle and Sodor and Man, to which during the brief space of Queen Mary I's reign (1553–1558) may be added the Diocese of Chester, founded by Henry VIII, but subsequently recognised by the Pope.

Until the mid 1530s (and from 1553 to 1558) the bishops and archbishops were in communion with the pope in Rome. This is no longer the case, as the archbishop of York, together with the rest of the Church of England, is a member of the Anglican Communion.

Walter de Grey purchased York Place as his London residence, which after the fall of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, was renamed the Palace of Whitehall.

Styles and privileges

The archbishop of York is an ex officio member of the House of Lords and is styled Primate of England (whereas the archbishop of Canterbury is the Primate of All England); he is referred to as "The Most Reverend", retired archbishops are styled as "The Right Reverend". As archbishops are, by convention, appointed to the Privy Council they may, therefore, also use the style of "The Right Honourable" for life (unless they are later removed from the council). In debates in the House of Lords, the archbishop is referred to as "The Most Reverend Primate, the archbishop of York". "The Right Honourable" is not used in this instance. He may also be formally addressed as "Your Grace"—or, more often these days, simply as "archbishop", or "Father".

The surname of the archbishop of York is not always used in formal documents; often only the first name and see are mentioned. The archbishop is legally entitled to sign his name as "Ebor" (from the Latin for York). The right to use a title as a legal signature is only permitted to bishops, peers of the Realm and peers by courtesy. The current archbishop of York usually signs as "+Stephen Ebor".

In the English and Welsh order of precedence, the archbishop of York is ranked above all individuals in the realm, with the exception of the sovereign and members of the royal family, the archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chancellor.[5] Immediately below him is the Prime Minister and then the Lord President of the Council.


The archbishop of York is the metropolitan bishop of the province of York and is the junior of the two archbishops of the Church of England after the archbishop of Canterbury.[6] The See is currently occupied by Stephen Cottrell since 9 July 2020.

The Province of York includes 10 Anglican dioceses in Northern England: Blackburn, Carlisle, Chester, Durham, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, and York, as well as 2 other dioceses: Southwell and Nottingham in the Midlands and Sodor and Man covering the Isle of Man.

List of archbishops


Bishops of York
From Until Incumbent Notes
625 633 Paulinus Formerly a monk at St. Andrew's Monastery in Rome; translated to Rochester; canonised.[7]
633 664 See vacant
664 669 Chad Resigned the see of York; later became bishop of Mercia and Lindsey; canonised.
664 678 Wilfrid (I) Ejected from York; later became bishop of Selsey[lower-alpha 2]canonised.
678 706 Bosa Canonised.
706 714 John of Beverley Translated from Hexham; resigned the see; canonised in 1037.
714 732 Wilfrid (II) Resigned the see; canonised.
c. 732 735 Ecgbert York elevated to archbishopric in 735.
Pre-Conquest archbishops of York
From Until Incumbent Notes
735 766 Ecgbert York elevated to archbishopric in 735.
c. 767 c. 780 Æthelbert Also known as Æthelbeorht, Adalberht, Ælberht, Aelberht, Aldbert or Æthelbert.
c. 780 796 Eanbald (I)
796 c. 808 Eanbald (II)
c. 808 c. 834 Wulfsige
837 854 Wigmund
854 c. 896 Wulfhere Fled the Danes in 872, returned in 873.
900 c. 916 Æthelbald Sometimes known as Æthelbeald, Athelbald, or Ethelbald.
c. 916 931 Hrotheweard Sometimes known as Lodeward.
931 956 Wulfstan (I)
c. 958 971 Oscytel Also known as Oscytel. Translated from Dorchester.
971 Edwald Also known as Edwaldus or Ethelwold.
971 992 Oswald Held both the sees of York and Worcester; canonised.
995 1002 Ealdwulf Held both the sees of York and Worcester.
1002 1023 Wulfstan (II) Also known as Lupus. Also held the see of Worcester (1002–1016).
1023 1051 Ælfric Puttoc Also held the see of Worcester (1040–1041).
1051 1060 Cynesige Also known as Kynsige.
1061 1069 Ealdred Also known as Aldred. Held the see of Worcester 1046–1061, of Hereford 1056–1060, and of York 1061–1069.
Footnote(s):[lower-alpha 3] and Source(s):[10][11]

Conquest to Reformation

Archbishops of York (Conquest to Reformation)
From Until Incumbent Notes
1070 1100 Thomas of Bayeux Also known as Thomas (I).
1100 1108 Gerard Translated from Hereford.
1109 1114 Thomas (II)
1119 1140 Thurstan He was elected in 1114, but was not consecrated until 1119.
1140 Waltheof of Melrose Nominated archbishop, but was quashed by King Stephen; later became Abbot of Melrose.
1140 Henry de Sully Abbot of Fécamp Abbey. Nominated archbishop, but was quashed by Pope Innocent II.
1143 1147 William (FitzHerbert) Deposed by Pope Eugene III; canonised in 1226.
1147 Hilary of Chichester Deposed by Pope Eugene III, elected bishop of Chichester.
1147 1153 Henry Murdac Formerly Abbot of Fountains Abbey.
1153 1154 William (FitzHerbert) (again) Restored by Pope Anastasius IV; canonised in 1226.
1154 1181 Roger de Pont L'Évêque Formerly archdeacon of Canterbury.
1191 1212 Geoffrey (Plantagenet) Formerly bishop-elect of Lincoln; elected archbishop in 1189, but was only consecrated in 1191.
1215 Simon Langton Elected archbishop of York in June 1215, but was quashed on 20 August 1215 by Pope Innocent III on request from King John; later became archdeacon of Canterbury.
1216 1255 Walter de Gray Translated from Worcester.
1256 1258 Sewal de Bovil Formerly Dean of York.
1258 1265 Godfrey Ludham Also known as Godfrey Kineton. Formerly Dean of York.
1265 William Langton Dean of York (1262–1279); elected archbishop in March 1265, but was quashed in November 1265.[12]
1265 1266 Bonaventure Selected as archbishop in November 1265, but never consecrated and resigned the appointment in October 1266.
1266 1279 Walter Giffard Translated from Bath and Wells.
1279 1285 William de Wickwane
1286 1296 John le Romeyn Also known as John Romanus.
1298 1299 Henry of Newark Formerly Dean of York.
1300 1304 Thomas of Corbridge
1306 1315 William Greenfield Formerly Dean of Chichester
1317 1340 William Melton
1342 1352 William Zouche Also known as William de la Zouche.
1353 1373 Cardinal John of Thoresby Translated from Worcester; created a Cardinal in 1361.[13]
1374 1388 Alexander Neville Translated to St Andrews in 1388.
1388 1396 Thomas Arundel Translated from Ely; afterwards translated to Canterbury.
1397 1398 Robert Waldby Translated from Chichester.
1398 Walter Skirlaw Bishop of Durham, elected but put aside by King Richard II.
1398 1405 Richard le Scrope Translated from Lichfield.
1405 1406 Thomas Langley Elected archbishop in August 1405, but was quashed in May 1406.
1406 1407 Robert Hallam Nominated archbishop in May 1406 by Pope Innocent VII, but was vetoed by King Henry IV.
1407 1423 Henry Bowet Translated from Bath and Wells.
1423 1424 Philip Morgan Elected archbishop in 1423, but was quashed in 1424.
1424 1425 Richard Fleming Conferred as archbishop by Pope Martin V, but was refused by King Henry V, and Fleming resigned the appointment in July 1425.
1426 1452 Cardinal John Kemp Translated from London; created a Cardinal in 1439;[14] translated to Canterbury.
1452 1464 William Booth Translated from Lichfield.
1465 1476 George Neville Translated from Exeter.
1476 1480 Lawrence Booth Translated from Durham.
1480 1500 Thomas Rotherham Translated from Lincoln.
1501 1507 Thomas Savage Translated from London.
1508 1514 Cardinal Christopher Bainbridge Translated from Durham; created a Cardinal in 1511.[15]
1514 1530 Cardinal Thomas Wolsey Translated from Lincoln in 1514; created a Cardinal in 1515;[16] held with Bath and Wells 1518–23, Durham 1523–29 and Winchester 1529–30.


Post-Reformation archbishops of York
From Until Incumbent Notes
1531 1544 Edward Lee Translated from St Davids.
1545 1554 Robert Holgate Translated from Llandaff.
1555 1559 Nicholas Heath Translated from Worcester.
1561 1568 Thomas Young Translated from St Davids.
1570 1576 Edmund Grindal Translated from London; afterwards translated to Canterbury.
1577 1588 Edwin Sandys Translated from London.
1589 1594 John Piers Translated from Salisbury.
1595 1606 Matthew Hutton Translated from Durham.
1606 1628 Tobias Matthew Translated from Durham.
1628 George Montaigne Translated from Durham.
1629 1631 Samuel Harsnett Translated from Norwich.
1632 1640 Richard Neile Translated from Winchester.
1641 1646 John Williams Translated from Lincoln. Deprived when the English episcopacy was abolished by Parliament. Died 1650.
1646 1660 The see was abolished during the Commonwealth and the Protectorate.[20][21]
1660 1664 Accepted Frewen Translated from Lichfield.
1664 1683 Richard Sterne Translated from Carlisle.
1683 1686 John Dolben Translated from Rochester.
1688 1691 Thomas Lamplugh Translated from Exeter.
1691 1714 John Sharp Formerly Dean of Canterbury.
1714 1724 Sir William Dawes, Bt. Translated from Chester.
1724 1743 Lancelot Blackburne Translated from Exeter.
1743 1747 Thomas Herring Translated from Bangor; afterwards translated to Canterbury.
1747 1757 Matthew Hutton Translated from Bangor; afterwards translated to Canterbury.
1757 1761 John Gilbert Translated from Salisbury.
1761 1776 Robert Hay Drummond Translated from Salisbury.
1776 1807 William Markham Translated from Chester.
1808 1847 Edward Venables-Vernon Translated from Carlisle. Surname changed from Venables-Vernon to Venables-Vernon-Harcourt in 1831.
1847 1860 Thomas Musgrave Translated from Hereford.
1860 1862 Charles Longley Translated from Durham; afterwards translated to Canterbury.
1862 1890 William Thomson Translated from Gloucester.
1891 William Connor Magee Translated from Peterborough.
1891 1908
William Maclagan Translated from Lichfield.
1909 1928 Cosmo Gordon Lang Translated from Stepney; afterwards translated to Canterbury.
1929 1942 William Temple Translated from Manchester; afterwards translated to Canterbury.
1942 1955
Cyril Garbett Translated from Winchester.
1956 1961 Michael Ramsey Translated from Durham; afterwards translated to Canterbury.
1961 1974 Donald Coggan Translated from Bradford; afterwards translated to Canterbury.
1975 1983
Stuart Blanch Translated from Liverpool.
1983 1995
John Habgood Translated from Durham.
1995 2005
David Hope Translated from London.
2005 2020
John Sentamu[22] Translated from Birmingham; retired 7 June 2020.[23]
2020 present Stephen Cottrell[24] Translated from Chelmsford; election confirmed 9 July 2020.[2]

Archbishops who became peers

From 1660 to 1900, all the archbishops of York died in office or were translated to Canterbury and died in that office.

William Maclagan was the first to voluntarily resign his office in 1908, two years before his death. All of his successors who were not translated to Canterbury have also resigned their office before death, and (like all archbishops of Canterbury) have been offered a peerage upon resignation.[lower-alpha 4]

Cosmo Gordon Lang Baron Lang of Lambeth in 1942 Extinct in 1945 as archbishop of Canterbury
Michael Ramsey Baron Ramsey of Canterbury for life in 1974 Extinct in 1988
Donald Coggan Baron Coggan for life in 1980 Extinct in 2000
Stuart Blanch Baron Blanch for life in 1983 Extinct in 1994
John Habgood Baron Habgood for life in 1995 Retired from the House in 2011;[27] extinct in 2019
David Hope Baron Hope of Thornes for life in 2005 Retired from the House in 2015;[28] extant
John Sentamu Baron Sentamu for life in 2021 Extant

Assistant bishops

Among those who have served as assistant bishops of the diocese have been:

  • 1929  1931 (res.): Bernard Heywood — overseeing the archdeaconry of the East Riding — former bishop of Southwell; became bishop suffragan of Hull (i.e., effectively the same role) and archdeacon of the East Riding[29]
  • 1964  1970 (ret.): Mervyn Armstrong, Adviser on Industry to the archbishop of York and former bishop of Jarrow[30]
  • 1969  1996 (d.): George Cockin, Rector of Bainton (until 1978) and former bishop of Owerri. George Eyles Irwin Cockin (15 August 1908  18 November 1996)[31] was an Irish missionary in Nigeria.[32] Educated at Repton and Leeds University, he was a Tutor at St Paul's College, Awka (1933–40) and then a Supervisor of Anglican Schools in East Nigeria (1940–52) before training for the ministry at Lincoln Theological College. He was made deacon in 1953, ordained priest in 1954 and served his title (curacy) in Kimberworth until 1955. He then returned to Nigeria as Senior Supervisor of Anglican Schools in East Nigeria until 1958; during which time he was also additionally made a Canon of All Saints Cathedral, Onitsha (Diocese on the Niger), 1957.[31] He was elected the first bishop of Owerri in 1959 and served until his resignation in 1969.[31] He was consecrated a bishop on 27 January 1959 by James Horstead, archbishop of West Africa and bishop of Sierra Leone.[32]
  • 1977  1994 (d.): Richard Wimbush, Priest-in-charge of Etton with Dalton Holme (until 1983) and former bishop of Argyll and the Isles and Primus[33]

See also

  • Accord of Winchester


  1. Paulinus was appointed archbishop of York by Pope Honorius I in 634, but the appointment was not effective since it occurred after Paulinus had fled from York and become bishop of Rochester.[3]
  2. Although Wilfrid established a monastic community in Selsey, there are no early sources that describe him as bishop of the South Saxons. Wilfrid is credited with being first bishop of the South Saxons, by William of Malmesbury and Florence of Worcester, also on some later Ecclesiastical lists, but he was still technically bishop of York when in charge of Selsey Abbey. Therefore, as Sussex had been annexed by Wessex then Selsey probably would have been subject to the Diocese of the West Saxons, when Wilfrid was there.[8]
  3. The second edition of the Handbook of British Chronology listed Æthelric to have been archbishop of York from 1041 to 1042,[9] but in the third edition he is no longer listed to have been archbishop.[10]
  4. William Temple died in office (as the archbishop of Canterbury), and Cyril Garbett died before his hereditary peerage could be created.



  1. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.1173, with added "the wards upwards" for clarity, as per Debrett's blazon for bishop of Gloucester
  2. "Search results".
  3. Costambeys "Paulinus (St Paulinus) (d. 644)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  4. Davuit Broun, Scottish Independence and the Idea of Britain: From the Picts to Alexander III, p. 115
  5. Whitaker's Almanack, 2008 – (Precedence, England and Wales)
  6. Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, 3rd Edition, pp. 224, and 281–284.
  7. St. Paulinus, Archbishop of York. Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  8. Foot 2011 The bishops of Selsey and the Creation of a Diocese for Sussex. pp. 90-101.
  9. Powicke & Fryde 1961, Handbook of British Chronology, 2nd Edition, p. 257.
  10. Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, 3rd Edition, p. 224.
  11. "Historical successions: York". Crockford's Clerical Directory. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  12. William de Langeton alias of Rotherfield Archived 22 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  13. John Cardinal Thoresby. The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  14. John Cardinal Kempe. The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  15. Christopher Cardinal Bainbridge. The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  16. Thomas Cardinal Wolsey. The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved on 20 November 2008.
  17. Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, 3rd Edition, pp. 281–283.
  18. Greenway 1999, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066–1300, volume 6, pp. 1–7.
  19. Jones 1963, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541, volume 6, pp. 3–5.
  20. Plant, David (2002). "Episcopalians". BCW Project. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  21. King, Peter (July 1968). "The Episcopate during the Civil Wars, 1642–1649". The English Historical Review. Oxford University Press. 83 (328): 523–537. doi:10.1093/ehr/lxxxiii.cccxxviii.523. JSTOR 564164.
  22. The Archbishop of York Archived 3 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine. The official website of Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York. Retrieved on 21 November 2008.
  23. "Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu to retire". BBC News. October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  24. "Bishop Stephen Cottrell to be the next Archbishop of York". The Church of England. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  25. Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, 3rd Edition, pp. 283–284.
  26. Horn & Smith 1979, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541–1857, volume 4, pp. 1–5.
  27. "Former Archbishop of York retires from House of Lords".
  28. "Retirements of Members - Hansard - UK Parliament".
  29. "Heywood, Bernard Oliver Francis". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  30. "Armstrong, Mervyn". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  31. "Cockin, George Eyles Irwin". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  32. "Diocese of Owerri (Anglican Communion)".
  33. "Wimbush, Richard Knyvet". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)


  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I., eds. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd, reprinted 2003 ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  • Greenway, D. E. (1999). "Archbishops of York". Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066–1300. Vol. 6: York. British History Online.
  • Jones, B (1963). "Archbishops of York". Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541. Vol. 6: Northern Province (York, Carlise and Durham). British History Online.
  • Foot, Sarah (2011). Foster, Paul; Moriarty, Rachel (eds.). The Bishops of Selsey and the creation of a Diocese in Sussex. Chichester - the Palace and Its Bishops. Otter memorial Paper. Vol. 27. Chichester: University of Chichester. ISBN 978-1-907852-03-9.
  • Horn, J. M.; Smith, D. M. (1979). "Archbishops of York". Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541–1857. Vol. 4: York Diocese. British History Online.
  • Powicke, F. Maurice; Fryde, E. B., eds. (1961). Handbook of British Chronology (2nd ed.). London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society.

Further reading

  • Story, Joanna (August 2012). "Bede, Willibrord and the Letters of Pope Honorius I on the Genesis of the Archbishopric of York". English Historical Review. cxxvii (527): 783–818. doi:10.1093/ehr/ces142. hdl:2381/10841.
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