Bishop of Rochester

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Bishop of Rochester
Coat of arms of the {{{name}}}
Arms of the Bishop of Rochester: Argent, on a saltire gules an escallop or[1]
James Langstaff
Ecclesiastical provinceCanterbury
ResidenceBishopscourt, Rochester
First holderJustus
CathedralRochester Cathedral

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

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.

The bishop's residence is Bishopscourt in 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 604 at the founding of the diocese in the Kingdom of Kent under King Æthelberht.


The Diocese of Rochester was historically the oldest and smallest of all the suffragan sees of Canterbury. It was 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.

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[edit]


Pre-Conquest Bishops of Rochester
From Until Incumbent Notes
604 624 Justus Translated to Canterbury.
624 624 or 625 Romanus Drowned in the Mediterranean Sea off Italy
624 or 625 633 Seat vacant
633 644 Paulinus Translated from York.
unknown bet. 655–664 Ithamar
bet. 655–664 c. 664 Damianus
possibly 669 676 Putta Resigned. Translated to Hereford.
possibly 676 678 Cwichelm Resigned.
possibly 678 bet. 699–716 Gebmund
bet. 699–716 726 Tobias
possibly 727 739 Ealdwulf
possibly 740 747 Dunn
747 bet. 765–772 Eardwulf
bet. 765–772 bet. 781–785 Diora
bet. 781–785 803 or 804 Waermund (I)
804 bet. 842–844 Beornmod
844 bet. 845–868 Tatnoth
bet. 845–868 bet. 845–868 Badenoth
bet. 845–868 bet. 845–868 Waermund (II)
bet. 845–868 bet. 868–880 Cuthwulf
bet. 868–880 bet. 893–896 Swithwulf
bet. 893–900 bet. 909–926 Ceolmund
bet. 909–926 933 or 934 Cyneferth
933 or 934 bet. 946–964 Burgric
bet. 946–949 bet. 955–964 Beorhtsige
bet. ? – 964 994 or 995 Ælfstan
994 or 995 bet. c. 1013 – ? Godwine (I)
bet. c. 1013 – ? bet. 1046–1058 Godwine (II)
1058 1075 Siward

Conquest to Reformation[edit]

Bishops of Rochester (Conquest to Reformation)
From Until Incumbent Notes
1076 1077 Arnost Died in office.
1077 1108 Gundulf Builder of Rochester Castle, the White Tower and Father of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Died in office.
1108 1114 Ralph d'Escures Translated to Canterbury.
1114 1124 Ernulf Died in office.
1125 1137 John Died in office.
1139 1142 John II Died in office.
1142 1148 Ascelin Died in office.
1148 1182 Walter Died in office.
1182 1184 Waleran Died in office.
1185 1214 Gilbert Glanvill Died in office.
1215 1226 Benedict of Sausetun Also recorded as Benedict of Sawston. Died in office.
1227 1235 Henry Sandford Died in office.
1235 1250 Richard Wendene Died in office.
1251 1274 Lawrence of St Martin Died in office.
1274 1277 Walter de Merton Formerly Archdeacon of Bath and Lord Chancellor. Died in office.
1278 1283 John Bradfield Died in office.
1283 John Kirkby (bishop-elect) Elected, but resigned without consecration. Later became Bishop of Ely.
1283 1291 Thomas Ingoldsthorpe Died in office.
1292 1317 Thomas Wouldham Died in office.
1319 1352 Hamo Hethe Resigned.
1353 1360 John Sheppey Died in office.
1362 1364 William Whittlesey Translated to Worcester.
1364 1372 Thomas Trilleck Died in office.
1373 1389 Thomas Brinton Died in office.
1389 1400 William Bottlesham Also recorded as William Bottisham and Botklisham.[5] Translated from Llandaff. Died in office.
1400 1404 John Bottlesham Died in office.
1404 1418 Richard Young Translated from Bangor. Died in office.
1419 1421 John Kemp Translated to Chichester.
1421 1434 John Langdon Died in office.
1435 1436 Thomas Brunce Translated to Norwich.
1437 1444 William Wells Died in office.
1444 1467 John Low Translated from St Asaph. Died in office.
1468 1472 Thomas Rotherham Also recorded as Thomas Scott. Translated to Lincoln.
1472 1476 John Alcock Translated to Worcester.
1476 1480 John Russell Translated to Lincoln.
1480 1492 Edmund Audley Translated to Hereford.
1493 1496 Thomas Savage Translated to London.
1497 1503 Richard FitzJames Translated to Chichester.

During the Reformation[edit]

Bishops of Rochester during the Reformation
From Until Incumbent Notes
1504 1535 John Fisher Cardinal, martyr and saint. Executed.
1535 1539 John Hilsey Also recorded as John Hildesleigh. Died in office.
1540 1544 Nicholas Heath Translated to Worcester.
1544 1547 Henry Holbeach Translated from Bristol. Afterwards translated to Lincoln.
1547 1550 Nicholas Ridley Translated to London. Martyr. Executed.
1550 1551 John Ponet Also recorded as John Poynet. Translated to Winchester.
1551 1552 John Scory Translated to Chichester.
1554 1558 Maurice Griffith Also recorded Maurice Griffin. Died in office.


Post-Reformation Bishops of Rochester
From Until Incumbent Notes
1559 Edmund Allen (bishop-elect) Elected, but died before consecration.
1560 1571 Bp Edmund Geste.jpg Edmund Gheast Also recorded as Edmund Guest. Translated to Salisbury.
1572 1575 No image.svg Edmund Freke Translated to Norwich.
1576 1577 Abp John Piers.jpg John Piers Translated to Salisbury.
1578 1605 No image.svg John Young Died in office.
1605 1608 No image.svg William Barlow Translated to Lincoln.
1608 1610 Richard Neile portrait.jpg Richard Neile Translated to Lichfield and Coventry.
1611 1628 Bishop Buckeridge.jpg John Buckeridge Translated to Ely.
1628 1629 Bp Walter Curll.jpg Walter Curle Translated to Bath and Wells.
1630 1637 No image.svg John Bowle Died in office.
1638 1646 Bp John Warner by John Taylor.jpg John Warner Deprived when the English episcopate was abolished by Parliament.
1646 1660 The see was abolished during the Commonwealth and the Protectorate.[11][12]
1660 1666 Bp John Warner by John Taylor.jpg John Warner (restored) Reinstated on the restoration of the episcopate. Died in office.
1666 1683 ArchbishopDolben.jpg John Dolben Translated to York.
1683 1684 Francis Turner by Mary Beale.jpg Francis Turner Translated to Ely.
1684 1713 Thomas Sprat by Michael Dahl.jpg Thomas Sprat Died in office.
1713 1723 Francis Atterbury by Godfrey Kneller.jpg Francis Atterbury Deprived.
1723 1731 Samuel Bradford.jpg Samuel Bradford Translated from Carlisle.
1731 1756 Joseph Wilcocks by GP Harding.jpg Joseph Wilcocks Translated from Gloucester. Died in office.
1756 1774 Bp Zachary Pearce by Edward Penny.jpg Zachary Pearce Translated from Bangor. Died in office.
1774 1793 John Thomas, Bishop of Rochester, by Joshua Reynolds.jpg John Thomas Died in office.
1793 1802 Samuel Horsley by Mrs Barou.jpg Samuel Horsley Translated from St David's. Afterwards translated to St Asaph.
1802 1808 Bp Thomas Dampier.jpg Thomas Dampier Translated to Ely.
1809 1827 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.
1827 1860 George Murray by Samuel Lane.jpg George Murray Translated from Sodor and Man. Died in office.
1860 1867 JosephCottonWigram.jpg Joseph Wigram Died in office.
1867 1877 Bp Thomas Legh Claughton.jpg Thomas Legh Claughton Translated to St Albans.
1877 1891 Thorold.jpg Anthony Thorold Translated to Winchester.
1891 1895 AbpRandallDavidson.jpg Randall Davidson Translated to Winchester.
1895 1905 Edward Stuart Talbot 001.jpg Edward Talbot Translated to Southwark.
1905 1930 John Harmer 2.jpeg John Harmer Translated from Adelaide. Retired.
1930 1939 Martin Linton Smith 001.jpg Linton Smith Translated from Hereford. Retired.
1940 1960 Christopher Maude Chavasse by László.jpg Christopher Chavasse Retired.
1961 1988 David Say.jpg David Say Retired
1988 1994 No image.svg Michael Turnbull Translated to Durham
1994 2009 Bishop Michael picture.jpg Michael Nazir-Ali Retired
2010 incumbent Official portrait of The Lord Bishop of Rochester crop 2.jpg James Langstaff Translated from Lynn

Assistant bishops[edit]

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


  1. ^ Debrett's Peerage, 1968, p.945
  2. ^ Debretts Peerage, 1968, p. 945.
  3. ^ a b c d "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. ^ a b Jones 1962, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541, volume 4, pp. 37–40.
  9. ^ Fryde et al. 1986, Handbook of British Chronology, p. 268.
  10. ^ a b Horn 1974, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541–1857, volume 3, pp. 50–54.
  11. ^ Plant, David (2002). "Episcopalians". BCW Project. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  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.)
  15. ^ "King, George Lanchester". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  16. ^ "Mann, John Charles". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  17. ^ "Ordinations on Trinity Sunday". Church Times (#2107). 12 June 1903. p. 767. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 13 February 2021 – via UK Press Online archives.
  18. ^ "Russell, John Keith". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  19. ^ "Evans, David Richard John". Who's Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription or UK public library membership required)


External links[edit]