Bishop of Carlisle: Wikis


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Bishop of Carlisle
Diocese of Carlisle.PNG
James Newcome

Province: York
Diocese: Carlisle
Cathedral: Carlisle Cathedral
First Bishop: Æthelwold
Formation: 1133

The Bishop of Carlisle is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Carlisle in the Province of York.

The diocese covers the County of Cumbria except for Alston Moor and the former Sedbergh Rural District. The see is in the City of Carlisle where the seat is located at the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity which was a collegiate church until elevated to cathedral status in 1133.

The diocese was created in 1133 by Henry I out of part of the Diocese of Durham. It was extended in 1856 taking over part of the Diocese of Chester.

The current bishop is The Right Reverend James Newcombe, the 67th Bishop of Carlisle, who signs James Carliol, was enthroned at Carlisle Cathedral on 10 October 2009.[1]



Early times

The original territory of the diocese first became a political unit in the reign of King William Rufus (1087-1100), who made it into the Earldom of Carlisle, which covered most of the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland. In 1133, during the reign of his successor, Henry I, a diocese was erected in the territory of the earldom, the territory being subtracted from the Diocese of Durham. This happened despite there being locally a strong Celtic element that looked to Glasgow for episcopal administration. As the first bishop, the king secured the appointment of his former confessor, Æthelwulf (1133-1155), an Englishman, Prior of the Augustinian Canons, whom he had established at Carlisle in 1102, though at the time of his consecration Æthelwulf seems to have been Prior of the Augustinian house at Nostell in Yorkshire. An efficient administrator, he ruled the diocese until his death in 1156 and succeeded in imparting a certain vigour to diocesan life. Among other initiatives, he built a moderate-sized Norman minster of which the transepts and part of the nave still exist. To serve this cathedral he introduced his own Augustinian brethren, with the result that Carlisle was the only see in England with an Augustinian cathedral chapter, the other monastic cathedral chapters in England consisting of Benedictine monks. There was only one archdeaconry, that of Carlisle.

Of the next bishop, Bernard, little is known, and after his death, in or about 1186, there was a long vacancy, during which the diocese was administered by another Bernard, Archbishop of Ragusa. During this period Carlisle suffered severely from the incursions of the Scots, and early in the reign of Henry III the king complained to the Pope that Carlisle had revolted in favour of Scotland, and that the canons had elected a bishop for themselves. The papal legate, Gualo, punished this action by exiling the canons and appointing Hugh, Abbot of Beaulieu, a good administrator, as bishop.

It was important to the English government to have a reliable prelate at Carlisle, as they constantly looked to the bishop to attend to Scottish affairs, negotiate treaties, and generally play the part of diplomat. The next bishop was Walter Malclerk, formerly agent of King John, and a prominent figure in the reign of Henry III. Always a patron of the Friars Preachers, he introduced both Dominicans and Franciscans into the city and diocese. He resigned his see in 1246 in order to join the Order of St. Dominic. About this time a new choir was begun and carried to completion, only to be destroyed in the great fire of 1292.

A fresh beginning was made by the energetic Bishop John de Halton (1292-1324), a favourite of Edward I, and for nearly a hundred years the building of the present choir proceeded, though with many interruptions. Its chief glory is the great East window, remarkable both for its own beauty and as marking a transition from the earlier style to the perfection of tracery. During this time the see was governed by a line of bishops, busy and useful diplomats in their day, but not remarkable in other respects. One of these was Thomas Merke, a close friend of Richard II, who was later tried for high treason under Henry IV and deprived. The subsequent bishops were scholars, frequently employed in negotiating truces and treaties with Scotland, and several of them were Chancellors of Oxford or of Cambridge University.

Tudor Period

Among this generation of scholar diplomats was Cardinal Thomas Wolsey's friend, John Kite (1521-1537), who remained faithful to his master, and who supported him in the poverty of his latter days.

The last of the bishops in communion with Rome was Owen Oglethorpe, a kindly-tempered man who was prevailed on to crown Elizabeth when no other bishop could be found to do it. This was an act he afterwards much regretted. On Christmas Day after the Queen’s accession he disobeyed the note she sent him in the Chapel Royal forbidding him to elevate the Sacred Host in her presence. His refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy led to his being deprived of his title along with the other bishops, and he died a prisoner 31 December 1559. Under Owen Ogelthorp Carlisle was a poor diocese, and when the Reformers plundered the churches they found little but a chalice in each, and even of these some were of tin.

After Ogelthorp's deprivation and death, Bernard Gilpin was to succeed him in Carlisle but he refused though much pressed to it, the Bishopric was conferred on one John Best, who was consecrated 2 March 1560. Bishop John Best was the first post-Marian Anglican Bishop at Carlisle. Bishop Best was the 31st Bishop of Carlisle from 2 May 1561 to his death on 22 May 1570.

Subsequent Centuries

The cathedral, originally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, received its current dedication at the time of the Reformation.

The diocese was extended in 1856 by the addition of part of the Diocese of Chester.

List of bishops

This is a list of Bishops of Carlisle from the creation of the Diocese of Carlisle in 1133 to the present day.

No. Incumbent From Until Notes
1 Æthelwold 1133 1156 Prior of St Oswald's, Nostell; also known as Adelulf
See vacant 1156 1186
Paulinus of Leeds 1186 Master of St. Leonard's hospital, York; elected at King Richard I's wish, but declined
See vacant 1186 1203
2 Bernard 1203 1214 Archbishop of Ragusa, translated by Pope Innocent III 1203, Royal assent 1204
See vacant 1214 1218 Scottish occupation 1216 to 1217
3 Hugh of Beaulieu 1218 1223 Abbot of Beaulieu Abbey, Hants
4 Walter Mauclerk 1223 1246 Lord Treasurer 1227-33. Resigned 1246; died 1248; also known as Walter Mauclerc
5 Silvester de Everdon 1246 1254 Archdeacon of Chester; Keeper of the Great Seal
6 Thomas Vipont 1255 1256 Rector of Greystoke; also known as Thomas de Veteri Ponte
Robert de Sancta Agatha 1156 Archdeacon of Northumberland or Durham; elected but declined
7 Robert de Chauncy 1258 1278 Archdeacon of Bath; chaplain to the queen; also known as Robert de Chause
William Langton 1278 Dean of York; elected but refused; also known as William de Langeton or William of Rotherfield
8 Ralph of Irton 1280 1292 Prior of Gisborough Priory; also known as Ralph de Ireton or Ralph Ireton
9 John de Halton 1292 1324 Canon of Carlisle; also known as John de Halghton
William Ayremyn 1325 Canon of York; elected 7 Jan 1325, but quashed 13 Feb 1325
10 John Ross 1325 1332 Canon of Hereford; appointed by Pope John XXII. Son of Robert de Ros, 1st Baron de Ros. Also known as John de Rosse or John Ross.
11 John Kirkby 1332 1352 Canon of Carlisle; also known as John de Kirkeby
John Horncastle 1352 Elected but set aside by Pope Clement VI before consecration; also known as John de Horncastle
12 Gilbert Welton 1353 1362 also known as Gilbert de Wilton
13 Thomas Appleby 1363 1395 Canon of Carlisle; also known as Thomas de Appleby
14 Robert Reed 1396 Translated from Waterford and Lismore; later translated to Chichester; also known as Robert Reade
15 Thomas Merke 1397 1399 Deprived and imprisoned 10 Jan. 1400, pardoned the following year, thereafter served as a deputy and acting bishop in the Diocese of Winchester; also known as Thomas Merkes or Thomas Merks
16 William Strickland 1400 1419
17 Roger Whelpdale 1420 1423 Provost of Queens' College, Cambridge
18 William Barrow 1423 1429 Translated from Bangor; also known as William Barrowe
19 Marmaduke Lumley 1429 1449 Archdeacon of Northumberland, Lord Treasurer, Lord Chancellor and Chancellor of Cambridge; translated to Lincoln
20 Nicholas Close 1450 1452 Archdeacon of Colchester; translated to Lichfield & Coventry
21 William Percy 1452 1462 Prebendary of York, Lincoln and Salisbury; Chancellor of Cambridge
22 John Kingscote 1462 1463 Archdeacon of Gloucester; also known as John Kingscotes
23 Richard Scroope 1464 1468 Rector of Fen-Ditton, Cambridgeshire; also known as Richard Scrope
24 Edward Story 1468 1478 Chancellor of Cambridge; translated to Chichester
25 Richard Bell 1478 1495 Prior of Durham; resigned; died 1496
26 William Senhouse 1495 1502 Abbot of St Mary's Abbey, York; translated to Durham; also known as William Sever or William Seveyer
27 Roger Leyburn 1503 1508 Archdeacon of Durham; ; also known as Richard Leyburn
28 John Penny 1508 1520 Translated from Bangor
29 John Kite 1521 1537 Translated from Archbishop of Armagh; titular Archbishop of Thebes 1521-1537
30 Robert Aldrich 1537 1556 Provost of Eton and Canon of Windsor
31 Owen Oglethorpe 1557 1559 Dean of Windsor; crowned Elizabeth I of England 15 Jan 1559; deprived 26 June 1559; died 31 Dec 1559
32 John Best 1560 1570 Prebendary of Wells
33 Richard Barnes 1570 1577 Suffragan Bishop of Nottingham 1567-70; later translated to Durham
34 John May 1577 1598 Prebendary of Ely
35 Henry Robinson 1598 1616 Provost of Queens' College, Cambridge
36 Robert Snoden 1616 1621 Prebendary of Southwell; also known as Robert Snowden or Robert Snowdon
37 Richard Milbourne 1621 1624 Translated to St David's
38 Richard Senhouse 1624 1626 Dean of Gloucester
39 Francis White 1626 1629 Dean of Carlisle; translated to Norwich
40 Barnaby Potter 1629 1642 Provost of Queen's College, Oxford
41 James Ussher 1642 1656 Archbishop of Armagh; died in office
See vacant 1656 1660
42 Richard Sterne 1660 1664 Master of Jesus College, Cambridge; translated to York
43 Edward Rainbowe 1664 1684 also known as Robert Snowdon
44 Thomas Smith 1684 1702 Dean of Carlisle
45 William Nicolson 1702 1718 Archdeacon and Prebendary of Carlisle; translated to Derry
46 Samuel Bradford 1718 1723 Prebendary of Westminster; translated to Rochester
47 John Waugh 1723 1734 Dean of Gloucester
48 Sir George Fleming, Bt. 1734 1747 Dean of Carlisle
49 Richard Osbaldeston 1747 1762 Dean of York; translated to London
50 Charles Lyttelton 1762 1768 Dean of Exeter
51 Edmund Law 1769 1787 Archdeacon of Carlisle
52 John Douglas 1787 1791 Canon-resident of St Paul's, London; translated to Salisbury
53 Hon. Edward Venables Vernon 1791 1808 Translated to York; from 15 Jan 1831 surnamed Harcourt
54 Samuel Goodenough 1808 1827 Died in office
55 Hon. Hugh Percy 1827 1856 Translated from Rochester; died in office
56 Hon. Henry Montagu Villiers 1856 1860 Canon of St Paul's, London; translated to Durham
57 Hon. Samuel Waldegrave 1860 1869 Canon of Salisbury; died in office
58 Harvey Goodwin 1869 1891 Dean of Ely
59 John Wareing Bardsley 1892 1904 Translated from Sodor and Man
60 John William Diggle 1905 1920
61 Henry Herbert Williams 1920 1946 Resigned 1946; died 1961
62 Thomas Bloomer 1946 1966 Resigned 1966; died 1984
63 Sydney Cyril Bulley 1966 1972 Suffragan Bishop of Penrith; resigned 1972
64 Henry David Halsey 1972 1989 Suffragan Bishop of Tonbridge; died 2009
65 Ian Harland 1989 1999 Suffragan Bishop of Lancaster; died 2008
66 Graham Dow 2000 2009
67 James Newcombe 2009 present Suffragan Bishop of Penrith



  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (Third Edition, revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 235–237. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.  
  • Bishops of Carlisle: 1133-1324. British History Online
  • Bishops of Carlisle: 1292-1556. British History Online
  • Bishops of Carlisle: 1537-1860. British History Online
  • Haydn's Book of Dignities (1894) Joseph Haydn/Horace Ockerby, reprinted 1969
  • Whitaker's Almanack 1883 to 2004 Joseph Whitaker & Sons Ltd/A&C Black, London
  • Crockfords 1858 to 2003/4 Church Commissioners
  • The above text is in part adapted freely from the Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908.

External links

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