Bishop of Rochester

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Bishop of Rochester
Diocese of Rochester arms.svg
Arms of the Bishop of Rochester: Argent, on a saltire gules an escallop or [1]
James Langstaff
Ecclesiastical province Canterbury
ResidenceBishopscourt, Rochester
First holder Justus
Diocese Rochester
Cathedral Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Rochester

The Bishop of Rochester is the ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Rochester in the Province of Canterbury.

Church of England Anglican church in England, by law established

The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.

The Diocese of Rochester is a Church of England diocese in the English county of Kent and the Province of Canterbury. The cathedral church of the diocese is Rochester Cathedral in the former city of Rochester. The bishop's Latin episcopal signature is: "(firstname) Roffen", Roffensis being the genitive case of the Latin name of the see.

Province of Canterbury ecclesiastical province of the Church of England

The Province of Canterbury, or less formally the Southern Province, is one of two ecclesiastical provinces which constitute the Church of England. The other is the Province of York. It consists of 30 dioceses, covering roughly two-thirds of England, parts of Wales, and the Channel Islands, with the remainder comprising continental Europe.


The town of Rochester has the bishop's seat, at the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was founded as a cathedral in 604. During the late 17th and 18th centuries it was customary for the Bishop of Rochester to also be appointed Dean of Westminster: the practice ended in 1802. The diocese covers two London boroughs and West Kent which includes Medway and Maidstone.

Rochester, Kent town and historic city in the unitary authority of Medway in Kent, England

Rochester is a town and was a historic city in the unitary authority of Medway in Kent, England. It is at the lowest bridging point of the River Medway about 30 miles (50 km) from London.

Rochester Cathedral Church in Kent, United Kingdom

Rochester Cathedral, formally the Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an English church of Norman architecture in Rochester, Kent.

Dean of Westminster position

The Dean of Westminster is the head of the chapter at Westminster Abbey. Due to the Abbey's status as a Royal Peculiar, the dean answers directly to the British monarch. Initially, the office was a successor to that of abbot of Westminster, and was for the first 10 years cathedral dean for the Diocese of Westminster. The current dean is John Hall.

The bishop's residence is Bishopscourt, Rochester. His Latin episcopal signature is: "(firstname) Roffen", [2] Roffensis being the genitive case of the Latin name of the see. The office was created in AD 604 at the founding of the diocese in the Kingdom of Kent under King Æthelberht.

Kingdom of Kent realm

The Kingdom of the Kentish, today referred to as the Kingdom of Kent, was an early medieval kingdom in what is now South East England. It existed from either the fifth or the sixth century CE until it was fully absorbed into the Kingdom of England in the tenth century.

Æthelberht was King of Kent from about 589 until his death. The eighth-century monk Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, lists him as the third king to hold imperium over other Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. In the late ninth century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he is referred to as a bretwalda, or "Britain-ruler". He was the first English king to convert to Christianity.


The Diocese of Rochester was historically the oldest and smallest of all the suffragan sees of Canterbury. Founded by St Augustine, who in 604 consecrated St Justus as its first bishop. (After two more Roman bishops, all subsequent bishops until 1066, beginning with Ithamar, were drawn from the Christianised inhabitants of Kent.) The diocesan territory consisted roughly of the western part of Kent, separated from the rest of the county by the River Medway, though the diocesan boundaries did not follow the river very closely. The restricted territory of the diocese meant that it needed only one archdeacon to supervise all 97 parishes.

Augustine of Canterbury Missionary, Archbishop of Canterbury, and saint

Augustine of Canterbury was a Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 597. He is considered the "Apostle to the English" and a founder of the English Church.

Justus 7th-century missionary, Archbishop of Canterbury, and saint

Justus was the fourth Archbishop of Canterbury. He was sent from Italy to England by Pope Gregory the Great, on a mission to Christianize the Anglo-Saxons from their native paganism, probably arriving with the second group of missionaries despatched in 601. Justus became the first Bishop of Rochester in 604, and attended a church council in Paris in 614.

Ithamar was the first bishop in England to be Saxon-born rather than consecrated by the Irish or from among Augustine's Roman missionaries. He was also the first Saxon bishop of Rochester.

From the foundation of the see the Archbishop of Canterbury had enjoyed the privilege of nominating the bishop, but Archbishop Theobald transferred the right to the Benedictine monks of the cathedral, who exercised it for the first time in 1148.

List of bishops


Pre-Conquest Bishops of Rochester
604624 Justus Translated to Canterbury.
624624 or 625 Romanus Drowned in the Mediterranean Sea off Italy
624 or 625633Seat vacant
633644 Paulinus Translated from York.
unknownbet. 655–664 Ithamar
bet. 655–664c. 664 Damianus
possibly 669676 Putta Resigned. Translated to Hereford.
possibly 676678 Cwichelm Resigned.
possibly 678bet. 699–716 Gebmund
bet. 699–716726 Tobias
possibly 727739 Ealdwulf
possibly 740747 Dunn
747bet. 765–772 Eardwulf
bet. 765–772bet. 781–785 Diora
bet. 781–785803 or 804 Waermund (I)
804bet. 842–844 Beornmod
844bet. 845–868 Tatnoth
bet. 845–868bet. 845–868 Badenoth
bet. 845–868bet. 845–868 Waermund (II)
bet. 845–868bet. 868–880 Cuthwulf
bet. 868–880bet. 893–896 Swithwulf
bet. 893–900bet. 909–926 Ceolmund
bet. 909–926933 or 934 Cyneferth
933 or 934bet. 946–964 Burgric
bet. 946–949bet. 955–964 Beorhtsige
bet. ? – 964994 or 995 Ælfstan
994 or 995bet. c. 1013 – ? Godwine (I)
bet. c. 1013 – ?bet. 1046–1058 Godwine (II)
10581075 Siward
Source(s): [3] [4]

Conquest to Reformation

Bishops of Rochester (Conquest to Reformation)
10761077 Arnost Died in office.
10771108 Gundulf Builder of Rochester Castle, the White Tower and Father of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Died in office.
11081114 Ralph d'Escures Translated to Canterbury.
11141124 Ernulf Died in office.
11251137 John Died in office.
11391142 John II Died in office.
11421148 Ascelin Died in office.
11481182 Walter Died in office.
11821184 Waleran Died in office.
11851214 Gilbert Glanvill Died in office.
12151226 Benedict of Sausetun Also recorded as Benedict of Sawston. Died in office.
12271235 Henry Sandford Died in office.
12351250 Richard Wendene Died in office.
12511274 Lawrence of St Martin Died in office.
12741277 Walter de Merton Formerly Archdeacon of Bath and Lord Chancellor. Died in office.
12781283 John Bradfield Died in office.
1283 John Kirkby (bishop-elect)Elected, but resigned without consecration. Later became Bishop of Ely.
12831291 Thomas Ingoldsthorpe Died in office.
12921317 Thomas Wouldham Died in office.
13191352 Hamo Hethe Resigned.
13531360 John Sheppey Died in office.
13621364 William Whittlesey Translated to Worcester.
13641372 Thomas Trilleck Died in office.
13731389 Thomas Brinton Died in office.
13891400 William Bottlesham Also recorded as William Bottisham and Botklisham. [5] Translated from Llandaff. Died in office.
14001404 John Bottlesham Died in office.
14041418 Richard Young Translated from Bangor. Died in office.
14191421 John Kemp Translated to Chichester.
14211434 John Langdon Died in office.
14351436 Thomas Brunce Translated to Norwich.
14371444 William Wells Died in office.
14441467 John Low Translated from St Asaph. Died in office.
14681472 Thomas Rotherham Also recorded as Thomas Scott. Translated to Lincoln.
14721476 John Alcock Translated to Worcester.
14761480 John Russell Translated to Lincoln.
14801492 Edmund Audley Translated to Hereford.
14931496 Thomas Savage Translated to London.
14971503 Richard FitzJames Translated to Chichester.
Source(s): [3] [6] [7] [8]

During the Reformation

Bishops of Rochester during the Reformation
15041535 John Fisher Cardinal, martyr and saint. Executed.
15351539 John Hilsey Also recorded as John Hildesleigh. Died in office.
15401544 Nicholas Heath Translated to Worcester.
15441547 Henry Holbeach Translated from Bristol. Afterwards translated to Lincoln.
15471550 Nicholas Ridley Translated to London. Martyr. Executed.
15501551 John Ponet Also recorded as John Poynet. Translated to Winchester.
15511552 John Scory Translated to Chichester.
15541558 Maurice Griffith Also recorded Maurice Griffin. Died in office.
Source(s): [3] [9] [8] [10]


Post-Reformation Bishops of Rochester
1559 Edmund Allen (bishop-elect)Elected, but died before consecration.
15601571 Bp Edmund Geste.jpg Edmund Gheast Also recorded as Edmund Guest. Translated to Salisbury.
15721575 No image.svg Edmund Freke Translated to Norwich.
15761577 Abp John Piers.jpg John Piers Translated to Salisbury.
15781605 No image.svg John Young Died in office.
16051608 No image.svg William Barlow Translated to Lincoln.
16081610 Richard Neile portrait.jpg Richard Neile Translated to Lichfield and Coventry.
16111628 Bishop Buckeridge.jpg John Buckeridge Translated to Ely.
16281629 Bp Walter Curll.jpg Walter Curle Translated to Bath and Wells.
16301637 No image.svg John Bowle Died in office.
16381646 Bp John Warner by John Taylor.jpg John Warner Deprived when the English episcopate was abolished by Parliament.
16461660The see was abolished during the Commonwealth and the Protectorate. [11] [12]
16601666 Bp John Warner by John Taylor.jpg John Warner (restored)Reinstated on the restoration of the episcopate. Died in office.
16661683 ArchbishopDolben.jpg John Dolben Translated to York.
16831684 Francis Turner by Mary Beale.jpg Francis Turner Translated to Ely.
16841713 Thomas Sprat by Michael Dahl.jpg Thomas Sprat Died in office.
17131723 Francis Atterbury by Godfrey Kneller.jpg Francis Atterbury Deprived.
17231731 Samuel Bradford.jpg Samuel Bradford Translated from Carlisle.
17311756 Joseph Wilcocks by GP Harding.jpg Joseph Wilcocks Translated from Gloucester. Died in office.
17561774 Bp Zachary Pearce by Edward Penny.jpg Zachary Pearce Translated from Bangor. Died in office.
17741793 John Thomas, Bishop of Rochester, by Joshua Reynolds.jpg John Thomas Died in office.
17931802 Samuel Horsley by Mrs Barou.jpg Samuel Horsley Translated from St David's. Afterwards translated to St Asaph.
18021808 Bp Thomas Dampier.jpg Thomas Dampier Translated to Ely.
18091827 Portrait of Walker King, D.D., Bishop of Rochester LACMA M.76.77.2.jpg Walker King Died in office.
1827 Hugh Percy (Bishop). 001a.jpg Hugh Percy Translated to Carlisle.
18271860 George Murray by Samuel Lane.jpg George Murray Translated from Sodor and Man. Died in office.
18601867 JosephCottonWigram.jpg Joseph Wigram Died in office.
18671877 Bp Thomas Legh Claughton.jpg Thomas Legh Claughton Translated to St Albans.
18771891 Thorold.jpg Anthony Thorold Translated to Winchester.
18911895 AbpRandallDavidson.jpg Randall Davidson Translated to Winchester.
18951905 Edward Stuart Talbot 001.jpg Edward Talbot Translated to Southwark.
19051930 John Harmer 2.jpeg John Harmer Translated from Adelaide. Retired.
19301939 Martin Linton Smith 001.jpg Linton Smith Translated from Hereford. Retired.
19401960 Christopher Maude Chavasse by Laszlo.jpg Christopher Chavasse Retired.
19611988 David Say.jpg David Say Retired
19881994 No image.svg Michael Turnbull Translated to Durham
19942009 Bishop Michael picture.jpg Michael Nazir-Ali Retired
2010incumbent Official portrait of The Lord Bishop of Rochester crop 2.jpg James Langstaff Translated from Lynn
Source(s): [3] [10] [13]

Assistant bishops

Among those who called Assistant Bishop of Rochester, or coadjutor bishop, were:

Coadjutor bishop position

A coadjutor bishop is a bishop in the Catholic, Anglican, and (historically) Eastern Orthodox churches whose main role is to assist the diocesan bishop in the administration of the diocese. The coadjutor is a bishop himself, although he is also appointed as vicar general. The coadjutor bishop is, however, given authority beyond that ordinarily given to the vicar general, making him co-head of the diocese in all but ceremonial precedence. In modern times, the coadjutor automatically succeeds the diocesan bishop upon the latter's retirement, removal, or death.


  1. Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.945
  2. Debretts Peerage, 1968, p. 945.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Historical successions: Rochester". Crockford's Clerical Directory. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  4. Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, p. 221.
  5. Plea Rolls of the Court of Common Pleas; National Archives; CP 40/0541;; third entry from the bottom; as defendant, on line 2
  6. Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, pp. 266–268.
  7. Greenway 1971, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066–1300, volume 2, pp. 75–78.
  8. 1 2 Jones 1962, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541, volume 4, pp. 37–40.
  9. Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, p. 268.
  10. 1 2 Horn 1974, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541–1857, volume 3, pp. 50–54.
  11. Episcopacy. British Civil Wars, Commonwealth and Protectorate 1638–60. Retrieved on 30 July 2013.
  12. 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.
  13. Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, pp. 268–269.
  14. "Barry, Alfred". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30621.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

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