John Sumner (bishop)

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The Most Revd and Rt Hon
John Sumner[1]
Archbishop of Canterbury
Installed 1848
Term ended 6 September 1862
Predecessor William Howley
Successor Charles Longley
Personal details
Born (1780-02-25)25 February 1780
Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England
Died 6 September 1862(1862-09-06) (aged 82)
Addington, Surrey, England
Buried St Mary the Blessed Virgin Church, Addington, London

John Bird Sumner (25 February 1780 – 6 September 1862[2]) was a bishop in the Church of England and Archbishop of Canterbury.


John Bird Sumner was a brother of Charles Richard Sumner, bishop of Winchester. Their father was Robert Sumner and their mother was Hannah Bird, a first cousin of William Wilberforce.[3]

Sumner was born at Kenilworth, Warwickshire and educated at Eton College and King's College, Cambridge.[4]

In 1802 he became a master at Eton and was ordained the following year. He was elected a fellow of Eton in 1817 and in 1818 the school presented him to the living of Maple Durham, Oxfordshire. After being a prebendary of the Durham diocese for some years, he was consecrated Bishop of Chester in 1828. During his episcopate many churches and schools were built in the diocese. In 1848 he was elevated to Archbishop of Canterbury (with an annual income of £15,000[5]), and in this capacity he dealt impartially with the different church parties until his death.

His numerous writings were much esteemed, especially by the Evangelical party to which he belonged. His best known writings are his Treatise on the Records of Creation and the Moral Attributes of the Creator (London, 1816) and The Evidence of Christianity derived from its Nature and Reception (London, 1821).

In the well-known Gorham Case he came into conflict with Bishop Henry Phillpotts of Exeter (1778–1869), who accused him of supporting heresy and refused to communicate with him. He supported the Divorce Bill in parliament but opposed the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill and the bill for removing Jewish disabilities.

He was president of the Canterbury Association that founded Christchurch, New Zealand.[6] In 1848 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[7]

He died in 1862 at Addington and is buried in Addington churchyard. He had married Marianne, daughter of George Robertson, Captain RN.


  1. ^ Church Times — Education: Academy awards
  2. ^ "John Bird Sumner". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Edward J. Davies, "Some Connections of the Birds of Warwickshire", The Genealogist, 26(2012):58-76.
  4. ^ "Sumner, James Bird (SMNR798JB)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  5. ^ Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 760. 
  6. ^ Blain, Rev. Michael (2007). The Canterbury Association (1848-1852): A Study of Its Members’ Connections (PDF). Christchurch: Project Canterbury. pp. 78–79. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-02-02. 


External links[edit]

Church of England titles
Preceded by
Charles Blomfield
Bishop of Chester
Succeeded by
John Graham
Preceded by
William Howley
Archbishop of Canterbury
Succeeded by
Charles Longley