Bishop of St Davids

Bishop of St Davids
Coat of arms of the
Coat of arms
Jo Penberthy
Ecclesiastical provinceWales
First holderSaint David
Established6th century
DioceseSt Davids
CathedralSt Davids Cathedral

The Bishop of St Davids is the ordinary of the Church in Wales Diocese of St Davids.

The succession of bishops stretches back to Saint David who in the 6th century established his seat in what is today the city of St Davids in Pembrokeshire, founding St Davids Cathedral. The current Bishop of St Davids is Joanna Penberthy,[1] since the confirmation on 30 November 2016 of her election.[2]


The history of the diocese of St Davids is traditionally traced to that saint in the latter half of the 6th century Records of the history of the diocese before Norman times are very fragmentary, however, consisting of a few chance references in old chronicles, such as 'Annales Cambriae' and 'Brut y Tywysogion' (Rolls Series).

Originally corresponding with the boundaries of Dyfed (Demetia), St Davids eventually comprised all the country south of the River Dyfi and west of the English border, with the exception of the greater part of Glamorganshire, in all some 3,500 square miles (9,100 km2).

Claim of metropolitan status[edit]

The early ecclesiastical organisation of the Welsh church is unclear but scanty references reveal that some form of Archbishopric definitely existed, with multiple bishops under the jurisdiction of a senior see. One of the earliest mentions of the religious community at St Davids Cathedral comes in the work of Asser who was trained there. In his Life of King Alfred c. 893 Asser clearly describes his kinsman, Nobis, also of St Davids, as Archbishop. In the Annales Cambriae, Elfodd is termed 'archbishop of the land of Gwynedd’ in his obit, under the year 809.[3]

Rhygyfarch's Life of Saint David c. 1090. states Saint David was anointed as an archbishop by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, a position confirmed at the Synod of Llanddewi Brefi by popular acclaim.

Then, blessed and extolled by the mouth of all, he is with the consent of all the bishops, kings, princes, nobles, and all grades of the whole Britannic race, made archbishop, and his monastery too is declared the metropolis of the whole country, so that whoever ruled it should be accounted archbishop.[4]

Rhygyfarch's claim may be dubious history but there can be little doubt he was reflecting a pre-existing tradition. It is unclear when St Davids came definitely under the metropolitan jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, but about 1115 King Henry I intruded a Norman into the see, Bernard, Bishop of St Davids, who prior to his ordination was confirmed by Canterbury, much to the disgust of the Brut y Tywysogyon which noted that Henry I 'made him bishop in Menevia in contempt of the clerics of the Britons’. Once in place Bernard became convinced that St Davids was a Metropolitan archbishopric (and thus of the same status as Canterbury). Bernard in the 1120s claimed metropolitan jurisdiction over Wales and presented his suit unsuccessfully before six successive popes. Pope Eugenius III was giving the case serious consideration, the issue was to be put to the synod summoned to meet at Rheims in March 1148, but the death of Bernard meant the case lapsed.[5] The idea of Archbishops in Wales was also reflected in the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth. The claim was afterwards revived in the time of Gerald of Wales who pressed it vigorously. The failure of Gerald's campaign saw the claim lapse but it was revived by Owain Glyndŵr's plan for an independent Welsh Church. The idea was also revived in the reformation with Bishop Richard Davies in the 'Address to the Welsh nation' prefixed to the translation into Welsh of the New Testament by him and William Salesbury referred to 'Archbishop David'. It was only in 1920 that an Archbishop of Wales was re-established.

Further history[edit]

The building of the present St Davids Cathedral was begun under Bishop Peter de Leia (1176–1198). In the troubled times of the Reformation the former bishop of St Davids, William Barlow (1536–1548), was a consecrator of Archbishop Matthew Parker in 1559.

At the English Reformation the See ceased to be in communion with Rome, but it continued as a See of the Church of England, and, since disestablishment, of the Church in Wales.

List of bishops[edit]

Pre-Reformation bishops[edit]

Accounts of the early incumbents on the list are conflicting.

Nominal archbishops[edit]

Pre-Reformation Bishops of St Davids Exerting Metropolitan Authority
From Until Incumbent Notes
unknown Saint Dyfrig Also known as Dubricius. At Caerleon.
unknown Saint David Also known as Dafydd, Dewi Sant. Moved diocese to Meneva (St. Davids).
unknown Cynog Also known as Cenauc
unknown Saint Telio Also known as Eliud, Teilaus
unknown Saint Ceneu Also known as Kenea
unknown Morfael Also known as Morwal, Morvael
unknown Haernynin Also known as Haerwnen, Haernunen, Haernurier
unknown Elwaed Also known as Elfaed, Elvaeth, Elbodus of Gwynedd
unknown Gurnuru Also known as Gwrnwen, Gurnuen, Gurnel
unknown Llunwerth I Also known as Lendivord, Leudinord, Lendywyth
unknown Gwrgwst Also known as Gorwysc, Gorwyst
unknown Gwrgan Also known as Gogan, Gorgan
unknown Clydog Also known as Cledauc
unknown Einion Also known as Anian, Einaen
unknown c. 809 Elfodd Also known as Elbodg, Elvoed, Elbodu, Eludoeth, Elbodius, Elffod (may have been also/instead Bishop of Bangor)
c. 809 unknown Ethelman Also known as Ethelmen, Eldunen
unknown Elaunc Also known as Elanc, Elnaeth
unknown Maelsgwyd Also known as Malscoed, Maelskwythe
unknown c. 831 Sadyrnfyw the Generous Also known as Sadyrnfyw Hael, Sadwrnfen, Sadurnven, Sadermen, Madenew
c. 831 unknown Cadell Also known as Catellus, Catulus
unknown c. 841 Sulhaithnay Also known as Sulnay
c. 841 c. 873 Nobis Also known as Novis, Novus, Namis, Nonis
c. 873 unknown Idwal Also known as Etwal, Doythwall
unknown c. 906 Asser
c. 906 unknown Arthwael Also known as Arthfael, Arthmail, Arthvael, Alhuael, Arthuael
unknown Samson Also known as Sampson
unknown Ruelin Also known as Ruclinus
unknown Rhydderch Also known as Rodherich; as Riderch, placed c. 945c. 965 after Bishop Morfyw in the Annals of Wales (B text)[6]
unknown Elwyn Also known as Elguni
unknown c. 944 Llunwerth II Also known as Lunverd, Lumberth, Lywarch, Luvert
c. 944 c. 945 Morfyw Also known as Morbiw, Morcleis, Morlei
c. 945 c. 946 Eneuris Also known as Everus or Eueuris
c. 946 unknown Nathan
unknown Ieuan Also known as Jevan, Evan, &c. In office for one night.
unknown Arwystl Also known as Argustel
unknown c. 999 Morgeneu I Also known as Morgenveth, Morgeney, Uregeneu
c. 999 c. 1023 Morgeneu II Also known as Morgynnyd
c. 1023 c. 1039 Erbin Also known as Ervin, Heurun, Hernun, Herbin
c. 1039 c. 1055 Trahaearn Also Tramerin, Carmerin
c. 1055 c. 1063 Joseph Also Joseff
c. 1063 c. 1071 Bleiddud Also Beithyd, Bledud, Bleddud
c. 1071 c. 1076 Sulien Also Sulghein, Sulgenius. Resigned.
c. 1076 c. 1078 Abraham Killed.
c. 1078 c. 1085 Sulien Restored.
c. 1085 c. 1096 Rhigyfarch Also known as Rythmarch, Rikemarth. Composed influential Life of St. David. Possibly never consecrated.
c. 1096 1115 Wilfrid Also known as Griffri
1115 (Daniel) Also known as Deiniol. Elected but set aside; became Archdeacon of Powys instead.

Suffragan bishops[edit]

Pre-Reformation Bishops of St. Davids Suffragan to Canterbury
From Until Incumbent Notes
1115 c. 1147 Bernard Chancellor to Queen Adelize; made suffragans of Canterbury; consecrated 19 September 1115; possibly died 22 April 1148
c. 1147 1176 David FitzGerald Previously Archdeacon of Cardigan; consecrated bishop 19 December 1147 or 1148; died 8 May 1176
1176 1198 Peter de Leia Previously Prior of Wenlock; consecrated bishop 7 November 1176; died 16 July 1198
1199 1203 (Gerald of Wales) Also known as Gerallt Gymro, Giraldus Cambrensis, Gerald the Welshman, Gerald de Barri; nephew of David FitzGerald; elected 29 June 1199, but assent refused by King John; continued as bishop-elect until resigned in 1203; died c. 1223
1203 1214 Geoffrey de Henlaw Also known as Geoffrey of Hennelawe; nominated in July 1199, but not consecrated until 7 December 1203; died in office
1215 1229 Iorwerth Also known as Gervase; elected before 18 June and consecrated 21 June 1215; died before 27 January 1229
1230 1247 Anselm le Gros Also known as Anselm the Fat, Anselm de la Grace, Anselm de Gras; elected before 7 April 1229; received possession of the temporalities 20 November 1230; consecrated 9 February 1231; died before 2 April 1247
1248 1256 Thomas Wallensis Also known as Thomas le Waleyes, Thomas the Welshman; elected sometime between 16 April and 16 July 1247; received possession of the temporalities 26 September 1247; consecrated 26 July 1248; died 11 July 1255
1256 1280 Richard Carew Elected after 4 August 1255; consecrated sometime between 11 February 10 March 1256; died 1 April 1280
1280 1293 Thomas Bek Also known as Thomas Beck, Thomas Becke; elected before 17 June and consecrated 6 October 1280; died 14 April 1293
1296 1328 David Martin Also known as David Martyn; elected in June 1293; received possession of the temporalities 11 October 1293; consecrated 30 September 1296; died 9 March 1328
1328 1347 Henry Gower Elected 21 April 1328; received possession of the temporalities 26 May 1328; consecrated 12 June 1328; died before 4 May 1347
1347 1349 John of Thoresby Appointed 23 May 1347; received possession of the temporalities 14 July 1347; consecrated 23 September 1347; translated to Worcester 4 September 1349
1350 1352 Reginald Brian Appointed 11 September 1349; received possession of the temporalities 15 January 1350; consecrated 26 September 1350; translated to Worcester 22 October 1352
1353 1361 Thomas Fastolf Appointed 22 October 1352; received possession of the temporalities 4 June 1353; died in June 1361
1361 1389 Adam Houghton Appointed 20 September 1361; received possession of the temporalities 8 December 1361; consecrated 2 January 1362; also was Lord Chancellor 1377–1378; died 13 February 1389
1389 (Richard Mitford) Elected but set aside by the pope
1389 1397 John Gilbert Translated from Hereford; received possession of the temporalities 12 July 1389; died 28 July 1397
1397 1407 Guy Mone Appointed 30 August and consecrated 11 November 1397; also was Lord High Treasurer in 1398; died 31 August 1407
1408 1414 Henry Chichele Consecrated 17 June 1408; translated to Canterbury 27 April 1414
1414 1415 John Catterick Appointed 27 April and received possession of the temporalities 2 June 1414; translated to Coventry and Lichfield 1 February 1415
1415 1417 Stephen Patrington Appointed 1 February and consecrated 9 June 1415; received possession of the temporalities 16 June 1514; translated to Chichester 15 December 1417
1417 1433 Benedict Nichols Translated from Bangor 15 December 1417 and received possession of the temporalities 1 June 1418; died in office 25 June 1433
1433 1442 Thomas Rodburn Also known as Thomas Rudborne; previously Archdeacon of Sudbury; appointed 8 October and received possession of the temporalities 16 December 1433; consecrated 31 January 1434; died before 27 June 1442
1442 1446 William Lyndwood Appointed 27 June and received possession of the temporalities 14 August 1442; consecrated 26 August 1442; also was Lord Privy Seal 1432–1443; died in office 21 October 1446
1447 John Langton Appointed 23 January and received possession of the temporalities 2 March 1447; consecrated 7 May 1447; also was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge 1436–1445 and 1447; died in office 22 May 1447
1447 1460 John De la Bere Previously Dean of Wells; appointed 15 September and received possession of the temporalities 14 November 1447; consecrated 19 November 1447; resigned before 23 July 1460
1460 c. 1481 Robert Tully Previously a monk at Gloucester Abbey; appointed 23 July and consecrated after 28 August 1460; died circa 1481
1482 1483 Richard Martyn Also spelled Martin; formerly Bishop-designate of Waterford and Lismore; appointed Bishop of St Davids 26 April and consecrated 28 July 1482; also was a Privy Councillor to Edward IV; died in office 11 May 1483
1483 1485 Thomas Langton Formerly Prebendary of Wells; appointed 4 July and consecrated sometime in August or September 1483; received possession of the temporalities 25 March 1484; translated to Salisbury 8 February 1485
1485 1496 Hugh Pavy Previously Archdeacon of Wiltshire; appointed 6 May 1485 and received possion of the temporalities the same year; consecrated 9 October 1485; died sometime between 3 May and 3 August 1496
1496 1504 John Morgan Also known as John Young; previously Dean of Windsor; appointed 3 August and received possession of the temporalities 23 November 1496; died in office sometime between 24 April and 19 May 1504
1505 1508 Robert Sherborne Previously Dean of St Paul's, London; appointed 5 January and received possession of the temporalities 12 April 1505; consecrated 11 May 1505; translated to Chichester 18 September 1508
1509 1522 Edward Vaughan Formerly Prebendary of St Paul's, London; appointed 13 June and consecrated 22 July 1509; died in office before 27 January 1522
1523 1536 Richard Rawlins Previously Warden of Merton College, Oxford and Prebendary of St Paul's, London; appointed 11 March and consecrated 26 April 1523; died in office 18 February 1536

Bishops during the Reformation[edit]

Bishops of St Davids during the Reformation
From Until Incumbent Notes
1536 1548 William Barlow Formerly Bishop-elect of St Asaph; elected Bishop of St Davids 10 April and consecrated in June 1536; translated to Bath & Wells in 1548
1549 1554 Robert Ferrar Consecrated 9 September 1548; deprived by Queen Mary in March 1554; burned at the stake 30 March 1555
1554 1559 Henry Morgan Principal of St Edward's Hall, Oxford; consecrated 1 April 1554; deprived by Elizabeth I in the summer of 1559; died 23 December 1559

Post-Reformation bishops[edit]

Bishops of the Church of England[edit]

Bishops of St Davids
From Until Incumbent Notes
1560 1561 No image.svg Thomas Young Previously Chancellor of St Davids; consecrated 21 January 1560; translated to York 25 February 1561
1561 1581 No image.svg Richard Davies Translated from St Asaph 21 May 1561; died in office in October or November 1581
1582 1592 No image.svg Marmaduke Middleton Translated from Waterford and Lismore 30 November 1582; deprived circa 1590-1592; died in exile 1593
1590/92 1594 See vacant
1594 1615 No image.svg Anthony Rudd Previously Dean of Gloucester; consecrated bishop 9 June 1594; died in office 7 March 1615
1615 1621 No image.svg Richard Milbourne Previously Dean of Rochester; consecrated bishop 9 July 1615; translated to Carlisle in 1621
1621 1627 William Laud.jpg William Laud Previously Dean of Gloucester; consecrated bishop 18 November 1621; translated to Bath & Wells 18 September 1626
1627 1635 Theophilus Field.jpg Theophilus Feild Translated from Llandaff 12 July 1627; translated to Hereford 23 December 1635
1635 1649 No image.svg Roger Maynwaring Previously Dean of Worcester; consecrated bishop 28 February 1636; deprived of the see by the Commonwealth in 1649; died 1 July 1653
1649 1660 The see was abolished during the Commonwealth and the Protectorate
1660 1677 No image.svg William Lucy Previously Rector of Highclere; consecrated bishop 2 December 1660; died in office 4 October 1677
1677 1683 No image.svg William Thomas Previously Dean of Worcester; consecrated bishop of St Davids in early 1678; translated to Worcester 27 August 1683
1683 1686 No image.svg Laurence Womock Previously Archdeacon of Suffolk; consecrated bishop 11 November 1683; died in office 12 March 1686
1686 1687 Rev. John Lloyd 1780 by Moses Griffith.jpg John Lloyd Previously Principal of Jesus College, Oxford; consecrated bishop 17 October 1686; died in office 1687
1687 1699 Bp Thomas Watson.jpg Thomas Watson Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge; consecrated bishop 26 June 1687; suspended 21 August 1694 and deprived 3 August 1699 for crimes including simony; died 3 June 1717
1699 1705 See vacant
1705 1710 George Bull DD.jpg George Bull Previously Archdeacon of Llandaff; consecrated bishop 29 April 1705; died in office 17 February 1710
1710 1713 Bp Philip Bisse.jpg Philip Bisse Consecrated bishop 19 November 1710; translated to Hereford 16 February 1713
1713 1723 No image.svg Adam Ottley Previously Archdeacon of Salop and Prebendary of Hereford; consecrated bishop 15 March 1713; died in office 3 October 1723
1724 1731 Bp Richard Smallbrooke.jpg Richard Smalbroke Previously Treasurer of Llandaff; consecrated bishop 3 February 1724; translated to Lichfield & Coventry 20 February 1731
1731 No image.svg Elias Sydall Previously Dean of Canterbury; consecrated bishop 11 April 1731; translated to Gloucester 2 November 1731
1732 1743 No image.svg Nicholas Clagett Previously Dean of Rochester; consecrated bishop 23 January 1732; translated to Exeter 2 August 1742
1743 Bp Edward Willes.jpg Edward Willes Previously Dean of Lincoln; consecrated bishop 2 January 1743; translated to Bath & Wells 12 December 1743
1744 1752 Bp Richard Trevor.jpg The Hon Richard Trevor Previously a Canon of Windsor; consecrated bishop 1 April 1744; translated to Durham 7 December 1752
1752 1761 No image.svg Anthony Ellys Formerly Prebendary of Gloucester; consecrated bishop 31 March 1753; died in office 16 January 1761
1761 1766 No image.svg Samuel Squire Previously Dean of Bristol; consecrated bishop 24 March 1761; died in office 7 May 1766
1766 Robert Lowth, after RE Pine.jpg Robert Lowth Formerly Prebendary of Durham; consecrated bishop 15 June 1766; translated to Oxford 16 October 1766
1766 1774 Som bp 14 large.jpg Charles Moss Previously Archdeacon of Colchester; consecrated bishop 30 November 1766; translated to Bath & Wells 2 June 1774
1774 1779 Bp James Yorke.jpg The Hon James Yorke Previously Dean of Lincoln; consecrated bishop 26 June 1774; translated to Gloucester 2 August 1779
1779 1783 BpJohnWarren.jpg John Warren Previously Archdeacon of Worcester; consecrated bishop 19 September 1779; translated to Bangor 9 June 1783
1783 1788 Bp Edward Smallwell.jpg Edward Smallwell Consecrated bishop 6 July 1783; translated to Oxford 15 April 1788
1788 1793 Samuel Horsley by Mrs Barou.jpg Samuel Horsley Formerly Prebendary of Gloucester; consecrated bishop 11 May 1788; translated to Rochester 7 December 1793
1794 1800 Abp Hon William Stuart.jpg The Hon William Stuart Previously Canon of Christ Church, Oxford; consecrated bishop 12 January 1794; translated to Armagh in 1800
1801 1803 Lord-george-murray-1803.jpg Lord George Murray Nominated bishop 20 December 1800 and consecrated 11 February 1801; died in office 3 June 1803
1803 1825 Bp Thomas Burgess.jpg Thomas Burgess Formerly Prebendary of Durham; nominated bishop 25 June consecrated 17 July 1803; translated to Salisbury 17 June 1825
1825 1840 No image.svg John Jenkinson Nominated bishop 18 June and consecrated 24 July 1825; died in office 6 or 7 July 1840
1840 1874 Connop Thirlwall NPG.jpg Connop Thirlwall Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; nominated bishop 23 July and consecrated 9 August 1840; resigned 16 June 1874; died 27 July 1875
1874 1897 William Basil Jones.gif Basil Jones Conserated bishop 24 August 1874; died in office 14 January 1897
1897 1920 Bp John Owen NPG.jpg John Owen Consecrated 1 May 1897.

Bishops of the disestablished Church in Wales[edit]

Bishops of St Davids
From Until Incumbent Notes
1920 1926 Bp John Owen NPG.jpg John Owen The Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920. Died in office 4 November 1926
1926 1950 No image.svg David Prosser Consecrated 2 February 1927; also was Archbishop of Wales 1944–1949; died in office 28 February 1950
1950 1956 No image.svg William Havard Translated from St Asaph; elected 30 March 1950; died in office 17 August 1956
1956 1971 No image.svg John Richards Consecrated 30 November 1956; resigned 31 March 1971
1971 1981 No image.svg Eric Roberts Elected 21 April and consecrated 1 June 1971; resigned 30 September 1981
1981 1991 No image.svg George Noakes Elected 11 November 1981 and consecrated 2 February 1982; also was Archbishop of Wales from 1986–1991; relinquished both posts in 1991; died 14 July 2008
1991 1996 No image.svg Ivor Rees[14] Elected and consecrated in 1991; retired in 1996.
1996 2001 No image.svg Huw Jones Formerly Assistant Bishop of St Asaph; enthroned in St Davids Cathedral in 1996; retired as bishop at the end of 2001
2002 2008 No image.svg Carl Cooper Previously Archdeacon of Merioneth; elected and consecrated in 2002; resigned 29 April 2008
2008 2016 Wyn Evans 146287.jpg Wyn Evans Previously Dean of St Davids 1994-2008; elected bishop 1 September and consecrated 29 November 2008; enthroned in St Davids Cathedral 6 December 2008
2016 incumbent No image.svg Joanna Penberthy Confirmed 30 November 2016;[2] consecration scheduled for 21 January 2017.[15]


  1. ^ "Canon Joanna Penberthy elected Wales' first woman bishop". BBC News. 2 November 2016. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b Church in Wales — Election of Wales’ first woman bishop is confirmed (Accessed 5 January 2017)
  3. ^ J. Wyn Evans, 'David (d. 589/601)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  4. ^ Rhygyvarch's Life of St David. A.W. Wade-Evans's (Ed.) sections, 48, 53
  5. ^ David Walker, 'Bernard (d. 1148)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  6. ^ Annals of Wales (B text), p. 10.
  7. ^ a b Hardy, T. Duffus. Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae; or, a Calendar of the Principal Ecclesiastical Dignitaries in England and Wales, and of the Chief Officers in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge from the Earliest Times to the Year MDCCXV, Corrected and Continued to the Present Time, Vol. I, "St. David's". Oxford Univ. Press, 1854. Accessed 18 February 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d e St David's Cathedral: "Past Bishops & Deans of St David's". Accessed 16 March 2010.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Historical Successions: St. Davids". Crockford's Clerical Directory. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  10. ^ Fryde et al. (1986), pp. 297–298
  11. ^ Fryde et al. (1986), p. 298
  12. ^ Fryde et al. (1986), pp. 298–299
  13. ^ 19th-Century Bishops of the Church of England Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 18 March 2010.
  14. ^ Shipmate Bishop Ivor Rees Archived 2011-07-23 at the Wayback Machine. Royal Naval Association Gallery. Retrieved on 18 March 2010.
  15. ^ "New Bishop of St Davids elected". The Church in Wales. Retrieved 2 November 2016.
  16. ^ Fryde et al. (1986), p. 299


Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.