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Bishop of Ely: Wikis


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The Bishop of Ely is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Ely in the Province of Canterbury. The diocese roughly covers the county of Cambridgeshire (with the exception of the Soke of Peterborough), together with a section of north-west Norfolk and has its see in the City of Ely, Cambridgeshire, where the seat is located at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity. The current bishop is the Right Reverend Dr Anthony John Russell, BA, DPhil, the 68th Lord Bishop of Ely, who signs +Anthony Elien:. The Bishops of Ely now reside in the Bishop's House, Ely, the former Cathedral Deanery. Dr Russell became Bishop of Ely in 2000, translated from the Diocese of Oxford, where he was Bishop of Dorchester from 1988. On 23 April 2009 he announced that he would retire on 28 February 2010.[1]

The roots of the diocese of Ely are ancient and the area of Ely was part of the patrimony of Saint Etheldreda. Prior to the elevation of Ely Cathedral as the seat of the diocese, it existed as first as a convent of religious sisters and later as a monastery. It was led by first by an abbess and later by an abbot. The convent was founded in the city in 673. After St Etheldreda's death in 679 she was buried outside the church. Her remains were later translated inside, the foundress being commemorated as a great Anglican saint. The monastery, and much of the city of Ely, were destroyed in the Danish invasions that began in 869 or 870. A new Benedictine monastery was built and endowed on the site by Athelwold, Bishop of Winchester, in 970, in a wave of monastic refoundations which also included Peterborough and Ramsey. [2] This became a cathedral in 1109, after a new Diocese of Ely was created out of land taken from the Diocese of Lincoln. From that time, the line of bishops begins.



The earliest historical notice of Ely is given by the Venerable Bede who writes (Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum, IV, xix):

"Ely is in the province of the East Angles, a country of about six hundred families, in the nature of an island, enclosed either with marshes or waters, and therefore it has its name from the great abundance of eels which are taken in those marshes."

This district was assigned in 649 to saint Æthelthryth, daughter of Anna, king of the East Angles, as a dowry in her marriage with Tonbert of the South Girvii. After her second marriage to Ecgfrith of Northumbria, she became a nun, and in 673 returned to Ely and founded a monastery on the site of the present cathedral. As endowment she gave it her entire principality of the isle, from which subsequent Bishops of Ely derived their temporal power. Æthelthryth died in 679, and her shrine became a place of pilgrimage. In 870 the monastery was destroyed by the Danes, having already given to the Church four sainted abbesses, Saints Æthelthryth, her sister Seaxburgh, the latter's daughter Ermenilda, and Ermenilda's daughter Werburgh. Probably under their rule there was a community of monks as well as a convent of nuns, but when in 970 the monastery was restored by King Edgar and Bishop Ethelwold it was a foundation for monks only.

For more than a century the monastery flourished, and about the year 1105 Abbot Richard suggested the creation of the See of Ely, to relieve the enormous Diocese of Lincoln. The pope's brief erecting the new bishopric was issued 21 November 1108, and on 17 October 1109 King Henry I granted his charter, the first bishop being Hervé le Breton, or Harvey (1109-1131), former Bishop of Bangor. The monastery church thus became one of the "conventual" cathedrals. Of this building the transepts and two bays of the nave already existed, and in 1170 the nave as it stands to-day (a complete and perfect specimen of late Norman work) was finished. As the bishops succeeded to the principality of St Etheldreda they enjoyed palatine power and great resources.

The Bishops of Ely frequently held high office in the State and the roll includes many names of famous statesmen, including eight Lord Chancellors and six Lord Treasurers. The Bishops of Ely spent much of their wealth on their cathedral, with the result that Ely can show examples of gothic architecture of many periods. They also had a London residence called Ely Place.

Among the bishops Geoffry Riddell (1174-1189) built the nave and began the west tower, Eustace (1198-1215) the West Porch, while Hugh de Northwold (1229-1254) rebuilt the Norman choir and John Hotham (1316-1337) rebuilt the collapsed central tower – the famous Octagon. Bishop Hugh (or Hugo) de Balsham (1258-1286) founded Peterhouse, the first college at the University of Cambridge, while Bishop John Alcock (1486-1500) was the founder of Jesus College.

Bishop Goodrich was a reformer and during his episcopate the monastery was dissolved. The last bishop in communion with the see of Rome was Thomas Thirlby. Since the Reformation, notable bishops have included Lancelot Andrewes, Matthew Wren, Peter Gunning and Simon Patrick.

List of abbesses and abbots


Convent of sisters (673–870)

Benedictine monastery (970-1109)

  • Brythnoth (970- )
  • Thurstan ( - 1072) - the last Saxon abbot
  • Theodwin (secular governor)
  • Godfrey (secular governor)
  • Simeon (1082-1094) - began building the cathedral
  • [vacancy]
  • Richard FitzRichard de Clare (1100-1107) - the last abbot

List of bishops (1109 - )

From then on, Ely was under the bishop of Ely.

Tenure Incumbent Notes
1109 to 1133 Hervey le Breton Translated from Bangor
1133 to 1174 Nigel
1174 to 1189 Geoffrey Ridel Died in office
1189 to 1198 William Longchamp
1198 to 1215 Eustace
1215 to 1219 Geoffrey de Burgo election quashed 1219
1215 to 1219 Robert of York election quashed 1219
1220 to 1225 John of Fountains
1225 to 1229 Geoffrey de Burgo
1229 to 1255 Hugh of Northwold
1255 to 1258 William of Kilkenny
1258 to 1286 Hugh de Balsham
1286 to 1290 John Kirkby
1290 to 1299 William of Louth
1298 to 1299 John Salmon
1298 to 1299 John Langton
1299 to 1303 Ralph Walpole Translated from Bishop of Norwich
1303 to 1310 Robert Orford
1310 to 1316 John Ketton
1316 to 1337 John Hotham
1337 to 1345 Simon Montacute translated from Bishop of Worcester
1345 to 1362 Thomas de Lisle
1362 to 1367 Simon Langham
1367 to 1374 John Barnet
1374 to 1388 Thomas Arundel
(Thomas FitzAlan)
Translated to York
1388 to 1426 John Fordham
1426 to 1438 Philip Morgan Translated from Bishop of Worcester
1438 to 1444 Lewis of Luxembourg
1444 to 1454 Thomas Bourchier
(Thomas Bourgchier)
Translated to Canterbury
1454 to 1479 William Grey
1479 to 1486 John Morton Translated to Canterbury
1486 to 1501 John Alcock Translated from Worcester
26 September 1501 to 24 August 1505 Richard Redman Translated from Exeter; died in office
17 July 1506 to 1515 James Stanley Constituted by Papal Bull
1515 to 1534 Nicholas West
1534 to 10 May 1554 Thomas Goodrich
(Thomas Goodricke)
Died in office
1554 to 5 July 1559 Thomas Thirlby Translated from Norwich; deprived
1559 to 22 July 1581 Richard Cox Died in office
1600 to 1609 Martin Heton
1609 to 1619 Lancelot Andrewes Translated from Chichester; translated to Winchester
1619 to 1628 Nicolas Felton
1628 to 1631 John Buckeridge
1631 to 1638 Francis White
1638 to 1667 Matthew Wren Translated from Norwich
1667 to 1675 Benjamin Laney
1675 to 6 July 1684 Peter Gunning Translated from Chichester; died in office
1684 to 1691 Francis Turner
1691 to 1707 Simon Patrick
1707 to 1714 John Moore
1714 to 4 August 1723 William Fleetwood Translated from St Asaph; died in office
1723 to 1738 Thomas Greene
1738 to 1748 Robert Butts
1748 to 1754 Thomas Gooch
1754 to 1771 Matthias Mawson
1771 to 1781 Edmund Keene
1781 to 1808 James Yorke
1808 to 1812 Thomas Dampier
1812 to 1836 Bowyer Edward Sparke
1836 to 1845 Joseph Allen Translated from Bristol
1845 to 1864 Thomas Turton
1864 to 1873 Edward Harold Browne
1873 to 1886 James Russell Woodford
1886 to 1905 Lord Alwyne Compton
1905 to 1924 Frederick Henry Chase
1924 to 1933 Leonard Jauncey White-Thomson
1934 to 1941 Bernard Oliver Francis Heyward
1941 to 1957 Harold Edward Wynn
1957 to 1964 Noel Baring Hudson
1964 to 1977 Edward James Keymer Roberts
1977 to 1990 Peter Knight Walker
1990 to 2000 Stephen Whitefield Sykes Resigned
2000 to present Dr Anthony John Russell, BA, DPhil previously Area Bishop of Dorchester


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1]Consumption and Pastoral Resources on the Early Medieval Estate, accessed July 12, 2007



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