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Archbishop of Wales
Andy John, Bishop of Bangor
Ecclesiastical provinceChurch in Wales

The post of Archbishop of Wales was created in 1920 when the Church in Wales was separated from the Church of England and disestablished. The four historic Welsh dioceses had previously formed part of the Province of Canterbury, and so came under its Archbishop. The new Church became the Welsh province of the Anglican Communion.

Unlike the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who are appointed by the King 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 their 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,[1]: 208  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 their 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).[1]: 11  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,[2] but in more recent years, Holy Trinity Church has been used.[3]

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, subsequently 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 his willingness to pronounce on political issues, including devolution,[4] immigration,[5][6] and organ donation.[7] At the time of his retirement in 2017, he was the senior archbishop in the Anglican Communion by length of service.[8]

The next archbishop was John Davies, who had been the senior bishop in the Church in Wales, and was elected on 6 September 2017 after acting as archbishop following Morgan's retirement. He was the first Bishop of Swansea and Brecon to hold the post of archbishop.[9] He retired both as Bishop of Swansea and Brecon and as archbishop on 2 May 2021.[10]

On 6 December 2021, Andy John, Bishop of Bangor, was elected to serve as Archbishop of Wales by an Electoral College of the Church in Wales meeting at Holy Trinity Church, Llandrindod Wells; his election was confirmed (and therefore he legally took up the archiepiscopal See) immediately.[11]

Edwards, the first archbishop, Bishop of St Asaph, was supported in the diocese of St Asaph by the sole Bishop of Maenan;[12] Glyn Simon and Barry Morgan were supported by Assistant Bishops of Llandaff. Andy John, Archbishop from 2021, appointed Mary Stallard to be Assistant Bishop of Bangor.[13]

List of Archbishops of Wales

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 Davids 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 Davids 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.[14]
2017 2021 John Davies Also Bishop of Swansea and Brecon since 2008.[3]
2021 present Andy John Bishop of Bangor since 2008[11]


  1. ^ a b Green, Charles A.H. (1937). The Setting of the Constitution of the Church in Wales. London: Sweet and Maxwell.
  2. ^ Owen, Eluned E. (1961). The Later Life of Bishop Owen. Llandyssul: Gomerian Press. p. 434.
  3. ^ a b "Bishop John Davies chosen as new Archbishop of Wales". BBC News. 6 September 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  4. ^ "Archbishop's devolution vision". North Wales Live. 10 April 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Anger after removed Ghanaian dies". BBC News. 20 March 2008. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Archbishop of Wales calls for Syria refugees to be let in". BBC News. 24 December 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  7. ^ "Drop organ law says Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan". BBC News. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  8. ^ Williamson, David (29 January 2017). "Wales is about to lose a radical archbishop as Barry Morgan retires". Wales Online. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  9. ^ Morrell, Anna (6 September 2017). "New Archbishop of Wales elected". Church in Wales. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  10. ^ "Archbishop of Wales John Davies to retire as Primate and Bishop of Swansea and Brecon". Anglican Communion News Service. 18 January 2021. Retrieved 1 June 2021.
  11. ^ a b "New Archbishop of Wales elected". Archived from the original on 6 December 2021. Retrieved 6 December 2021.
  12. ^ "Bishop-Suffragan of St. Asaph". Church Times. No. 3435. 23 November 1928. p. 601. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 6 October 2017 – via UK Press Online archives.
  13. ^ "Assistant Bishop of Bangor announced". Church in Wales. 26 January 2022. Archived from the original on 26 January 2022. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  14. ^ Church in Wales — Archbishop of Wales to retire in January Archived 2017-08-07 at the Wayback Machine (Accessed 26 August 2016)
  15. ^ "Historical successions: Archbishops of Wales". Crockford's Clerical Directory. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
  16. ^ "Previous Archbishops of Wales". Church in Wales. Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 17 July 2012.