William Wake
Archbishop of Canterbury
Portrait by Thomas Gibson
ChurchChurch of England
In office1716–1737
PredecessorThomas Tenison
SuccessorJohn Potter
Consecration21 October 1705
by Thomas Tenison
Personal details
Born(1657-01-26)26 January 1657
Died24 January 1737(1737-01-24) (aged 79)
Lambeth Palace
BuriedCroydon Minster
Previous post(s)Dean of Exeter (1703–1705)
Bishop of Lincoln (1705–1716)
Alma materChrist Church, Oxford

William Wake (26 January 1657 – 24 January 1737) was a priest in the Church of England and Archbishop of Canterbury from 1716 to his death.


Wake was born in Blandford Forum, Dorset, and educated at Christ Church, Oxford. He took orders, and in 1682 went to Paris as chaplain to the ambassador; Richard Graham, Viscount Preston (1648–1695). There, he became acquainted with many of the savants of the capital, and was much interested in French clerical affairs. He also collated some Paris manuscripts of the Greek New Testament for John Fell, bishop of Oxford.[1][2]

He returned to England in 1685. In 1688, he became preacher at Gray's Inn, and in 1689, he received a canonry of Christ Church, Oxford. In 1693, he was appointed rector of St James's Church, Piccadilly. Ten years later, he became Dean of Exeter, and in 1705, he was consecrated bishop of Lincoln. He was translated to the see of Canterbury in 1716 on the death of Thomas Tenison.[1] Tenison had been his mentor and was responsible for his obtaining his bishopric despite the notable reluctance of Queen Anne, who regarded the appointment of bishops as her prerogative and distrusted Tenison's judgment.[citation needed]

In 1718, he negotiated with leading French churchmen about a projected union of the Gallican and English churches to resist the claims of Rome.[3] In dealing with Nonconformism, he was tolerant and even advocated a revision of the Book of Common Prayer if that would allay the scruples of dissenters.[1]

His writings are numerous, the chief being his State of the Church and Clergy of England... historically deduced (London, 1703).[1] In those writings, he produced a massive defence of Anglican Orders and again disproved the Nag's Head Fable by citing a number of documentary sources.[4] The work was written in part as a refutation of the arguments of the "high church" opposition to the perceived Erastian policies of King William and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Tenison. He died at his official home, Lambeth Palace.[citation needed]

He was grandfather of the noted English geologist Etheldred Benett.

He was buried in Croydon Minster, in Surrey.


Wake bequeathed his collections of printed books, manuscripts and coins to Christ Church. The manuscript volumes include 31 bound volumes of Wake's correspondence.[5]

To the collection of manuscripts belonged minuscule manuscripts of the New Testament: 73, 74, 506-520. These manuscripts came from Constantinople to England about 1731.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ In his private collection he had f.e. minuscules 73, 74.
  3. ^ Joseph Hirst Lupton, Archbishop Wake and the Project of Union, 1896
  4. ^ William Wake: Archbishop of Canterbury, 1657–1737 by Norman Sykes
  5. ^ "William Wake Microfilms". Christ Church. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  6. ^ Gregory, Caspar René (1900). Textkritik des Neuen Testaments, Vol. 1. Leipzig. p. 197.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)


Church of England titles Preceded byJames Gardiner Bishop of Lincoln 1705–1716 Succeeded byEdmund Gibson Preceded byThomas Tenison Archbishop of Canterbury 1716–1737 Succeeded byJohn Potter