Justin Welby was born in 1956 in London, to Gavin and Jane
Welby. His father's family are believed to have been German Jewish
immigrants, who moved to England to escape anti-Semitism in the
late 19th century. Earlier this year, Bishop Welby recalled his
father's telling him that he had sailed to New York as a teenager
after the 1929 crash, and traded whisky.
"When I was studying history, the
penny dropped that Prohibition ended in 1933. He had a lot of
friends who had Italian ancestry, so he was bootlegging. He was
illegally trading whisky," he told the Daily Mail.
Back in England, Gavin Welby married
Jane Portal, private secretary to Winston Churchill, and niece of
the Conservative politician Rab Butler. The couple divorced when
their son was just two. Gavin died when Justin was 21.
Bishop Welby was educated at Eton
College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied history
and law. It was also where he came to faith, and met his wife
Caroline, who was studying Classics.
For 11 years, five in Paris and six in
London, he worked in the oil industry, becoming group treasurer of
a large British exploration and production company, and focusing
mainly on West African and North Sea projects.
In 1983, the Welbys' seven-month-old
daughter Johanna died in a car crash in France. Last year, he told
a newspaper that this was "a very dark time for my wife Caroline
and myself, but in a strange way it actually brought us closer to
Between 1984 and 1989, he attended
Holy Trinity, Brompton, where he became a lay leader. He had been
baptised there as an infant, in 1956.
He first approached the Bishop of
Kensington, the Rt Revd John Hughes, to enquire about ordination in
1988, but was told: "There is no place for you in the Church of
England." The Bishop was eventually persuaded, and in 1989 Bishop
Welby started training for a degree in theology and diploma in
ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. His booklet Can Companies
Sin? is based on his dissertation at the college.
After being ordained deacon in 1992,
he spent 15 years in Coventry diocese. He served his title at All
Saints', Chilvers Coton with St Mary the Virgin Astley, in
In 1995, he became Rector of St
James's, Southam, and also, the next year, of St Michael and All
Angels, Ufton, the neighbouring parish. On Wednesday, a Reader who
had trained under Bishop Welby during this time, said that several
who attended Ufton had told him that he would be Archbishop of
Canterbury one day.
A "first-rate" preacher, he was a
"hugely likeable" person who "met people where they were and
engaged with them in the pub, village hall, or wherever". He had
managed to grow the congregation at St James's "without alienating
anyone, but carried people with him, both the new and the old".
Between 2000 and 2002, Bishop Welby
also chaired an NHS hospital trust in South Warwickshire. On
Friday, he recalled a difficult meeting at the trust, after which
he asked his wife to remind him what he had preached on the
previous Sunday. "I said it wasn't very good, because it gave me no
help at all today."
This had prompted him to appreciate
"the need for speaking in a way that enables people to be with
Jesus Christ in their daily life. . . Frankly, most bishops and
clergy and other people do that much better than I do."
In 2002, Bishop Welby was made a Canon
of Coventry Cathedral, where he joined the reconciliation work
based there. In 2005, he was made Sub-Dean of Coventry Cathedral,
and was also, for a time, Priest-in-Charge of Holy Trinity,
With Canon Andrew White and Canon
Stephen Davies, he worked extensively in Africa and the Middle
East. In the Niger Delta, his reconciliation work led to encounters
with armed groups. He told a newspaper this year that "it looked
like I was going to get killed" on three occasions.
"I have sat down with murderers in
Burundi," he said. "I even liked the bloke, though I knew he had
killed tens of thousands of people. And you go away horrified that
you like them."
On Friday, Canon White, now Anglican
Chaplain in Iraq, said it was a "great privilege" to have had
Bishop Welby, a "great and wonderful man of God", as "my closest
colleague ever. . . The Anglican Communion is in for a very
Bishop Welby was installed as Dean of
Liverpool on 8 December 2007. Canon Anthony Hawley, who served at
Liverpool Cathedral from 2002 until his retirement last year, said
last week: "I quail for anybody who takes on the job [of Archbishop
of Canterbury], but I'm sure he is the right man for the job."
He recalled Bishop Welby's hosting a
Trades Union Congress rally against cuts, which "some might have
thought risky". While he was there, the cathedral adopted a mission
statement that included the phrase "a safe base to do risky things
in Christ's service".
In 2009, the Church Times
reported that Bishop Welby had agreed that "Imagine" by John Lennon
could be rung on the cathedral bells (News, 22 May,
2009). As a result, he was accused of being the Antichrist in
emails from around the globe.
Bishop Welby was, Canon Hawley said,
"somebody who is not afraid to grasp the nettle and tackle
difficult issues - conciliatory but a tough cookie". A "very deep
Christian man" who went jogging first thing in the morning before
reading his Bible and saying his prayers, Bishop Welby was also
"hugely approachable" with a "delightful sense of humour".
It was revealed last week that Bishop
Welby's staff is topped by a carving of a rock badger. It was
presented to him as a leaving gift by the congregation of Liverpool
Cathedral to remind him of a sermon he preached on Leviticus, in
which a reference to the creature induced in him a fit of
On 2 June 2011, Bishop Welby was
announced as the new Bishop of Durham, succeeding Dr Tom Wright. In
his short time there, he secured the future of Bishop Auckland
Castle and its prized Zurbarán paintings, in a deal with the
financier David Ruffer. He also started to address poor church
attendance in the diocese, as well as some of the social problems
in the North East.
On Saturday, after the announcement of
his new appointment, Bishop Welby said: "You can't leave Durham
diocese happily. Nobody has in the past." He recalled the story of
the Rt Revd Michael Ramsey, leaving to take up the post of
Archbishop of York, seen weeping at Durham station; he predicted
that "there will be tears about leaving Durham diocese from me
personally. It will leave a great gap in my life."
Bishop Welby was appointed to sit on
the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards in July, after
the Libor rate-fixing scandal (News, 20 July). Last
month, he spoke of the need to transform the banking sector from
"the wreckage of a hubris-induced disaster, to retrieving its basic
purpose of enabling human society to flourish effectively" (News, 2
Bishop Welby and his wife have five
children, aged between 16 and 27. On Friday, his daughter Katharine
wrote on the social-media site Twitter: "WHAT THE.....!??!??! MY
DAD is the new ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY???!! Nobody tells me
nuffink. (grumbles to self in corner of office)."