Rowan Williams

Rowan Douglas Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth, PC, FBA, FRSL, FLSW (born 14 June 1950) is a Welsh Anglican bishop, theologian and poet. He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, a position he held from December 2002 to December 2012.[2][3] Previously the Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales, Williams was the first Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times not to be appointed from within the Church of England.


The Lord Williams of Oystermouth

Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Wales
Bishop of Monmouth
ChurchChurch of England
ProvinceCanterbury
DioceseCanterbury
Elected2 December 2002
Installed27 February 2003
Term ended31 December 2012 (retired)[1]
PredecessorGeorge Carey
SuccessorJustin Welby
Other post(s)Primate of All England
Orders
Ordination2 October 1977 (deacon)
2 July 1978 (priest)
by Eric Wall (deacon)
Peter Walker (priest)
Consecration1 May 1992
by Alwyn Rice Jones
Personal details
Birth nameRowan Douglas Williams
Born (1950-06-14) 14 June 1950 (age 71)
Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales
NationalityWelsh
DenominationAnglicanism
Parents
  • Aneurin Williams
  • Delphine née Morris
Spouse
(m. 1981)
OccupationChancellor of University of South Wales
Previous post(s)Archbishop of Wales
2000–2002
Bishop of Monmouth
1992–2002
Alma mater
Motto
  • Cultus Dei Sapientia Hominis
  • (The worship of God is the wisdom of man)
Signature
Coat of arms
Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge
In office
January 2013  October 2020
Preceded byDuncan Robinson
Succeeded bySir Christopher Greenwood
Member of the House of Lords
(life peer)
In office
January 2013  31 August 2020

Williams's primacy was marked by speculation that the Anglican Communion (in which the Archbishop of Canterbury is the leading figure) was on the verge of fragmentation over disagreements on contemporary issues such as homosexuality and the ordination of women. Williams worked to keep all sides talking to one another.[1] Notable events during his time as Archbishop of Canterbury include the rejection by a majority of dioceses of his proposed Anglican Covenant and, in the final general synod of his tenure, his unsuccessful attempt to secure a sufficient majority for a measure to allow the appointment of women as bishops in the Church of England.

Having spent much of his earlier career as an academic at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford successively, Williams speaks three languages and reads at least nine.[4] After standing down as archbishop, Williams took up the position of chancellor of the University of South Wales in 2014 and served as master of Magdalene College, Cambridge between 2013 and 2020.[5][6][7] He also delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh in 2013.

Justin Welby succeeded Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury on 9 November 2012, being enthroned in March 2013. On 26 December 2012, 10 Downing St announced Williams's elevation to the peerage as a life peer,[8] so that he could continue to speak in the Upper House of Parliament. Following the creation of his title on 8 January and its gazetting on 11 January 2013,[9] he was introduced to the temporal benches of the House of Lords as Baron Williams of Oystermouth on 15 January 2013,[10] sitting as a crossbencher. He retired from the House on 31 August 2020[11] and from Magdalene that Michaelmas, returning to Abergavenny, in his former diocese (Monmouthshire).[7]