Paul Colton

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Paul Colton
Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
ChurchChurch of Ireland
DioceseDiocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
In office1999 to present
PredecessorRobert Warke
Consecration25 March 1999
Personal details
Birth nameWilliam Paul Colton
Born (1960-03-13) 13 March 1960 (age 59)

William Paul Colton (born 13 March 1960), known as Paul Colton, is the Church of Ireland's Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross. He is now perhaps best known for being the bishop who officiated at the wedding of footballer David Beckham and Spice Girl Victoria Adams on 4 July 1999 at the medieval Luttrellstown Castle on the outskirts of Dublin.[1]

He attended St Luke's National School, Douglas, Cork, Cork Grammar School and Ashton Comprehensive School, Cork before being awarded a scholarship to the Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada where he completed the International Baccalaureate in 1978.[2] He studied law at University College, Cork (part of the National University of Ireland) and was the first graduate of the university to be elected to a bishopric in the Church of Ireland.[3] He studied Theology at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1987 he completed the degree of Master in Philosophy (Ecumenics) at Trinity College, Dublin and a Master of Laws at Cardiff University in 2006. His LLM thesis was on the subject of legal definitions of church membership. In 2013 he completed, and was conferred with, a PhD in Law also at Cardiff University. His academic areas of interest are: church law, the law of the Church of Ireland, law within Anglicanism, the interface between the laws of religious communities and the laws of States (particularly in Ireland and Europe), human rights, education law, and charity law. In 2014 he was appointed as an honorary research fellow at Cardiff Law School of Cardiff University, and its Centre for Law and Religion.[4]

He was consecrated bishop at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, on Thursday 25 March 1999—the Feast of the Annunciation. He was enthroned in St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork on 24 April 1999, in St Colman's Cathedral, Cloyne on 13 May 1999, and in St. Fachtna's Cathedral, Ross on 28 May 1999.

He is married to Susan Colton, who is deputy principal of a primary school, and they have two adult sons.[5]

He was the first Church of Ireland bishop to openly support same-sex marriage.[6]

He is involved in education debates and in charity work.[2] He chairs the board of directors of Saint Luke's Charity, Cork, which focuses on the elderly and dementia sufferers.[7] He is also chairman of the board of governors of Midleton College.

At the episcopal ordination of Bishop Fintan Gavin as Catholic bishop of Cork and Ross in June 2019, Bishop Colton presented the crozier at Bishop Gavin's own request.[8]


Bishop Colton is the author of almost a dozen book chapters, mostly in the area of the interface between religion and law.[2]

Ecclesiastical career[edit]

  • Curate of Lisburn St. Paul (Connor) 1984 – 1987
  • Bishop's Domestic Chaplain (Connor) 1985 – 1990
  • Vicar Choral Belfast Cathedral (St. Anne) 1987 – 1990
  • Minor Canon Belfast Cathedral ( St. Anne) 1989 – 1990
  • Incumbent of Castleknock and Mulhuddart with Clonsilla (Dublin) 1990 – 1999
  • Priest Vicar, Registrar and Chapter Clerk of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin 1990 – 1995
  • Rural Dean of St. Mary's (Dublin) 1994 – 1999
  • Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin 1997 – 1999
  • Chairman Connor Youth Council 1986 – 1990
  • Member of Interchurch Marriages Preparation Course 1991 – 1998
  • Co-ordinator of Religious Programmes involving the Protestant Churches at Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) 1993 – 1999
  • Hon. Chaplain, Actors Church Union 1994 ~ 1997 Area Chaplain (Ireland) 1996 – 1997
  • Member of Central Committee, Conference of European Churches 1992 – 1997
  • Church of Ireland Representative at the Porvoo Conversations and Porvoo Communion Contact Group 1989 – 1999
  • Secretary of the Church of Ireland General Synod 1999
  • Research Associate at the Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff Law School, Cardiff University, 2006
  • Member of the General Committee of the Ecclesiastical Law Society, 2006 – 2012
  • Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University Law School, 2014


  1. ^ "Wedded Spice". BBC. 5 July 1999.
  2. ^ a b c Cork, Cloyne and Ross, diocesan website.
  3. ^ Bishop Colton, Conferring Speech, UCC, September 26, 2000.
  4. ^ Cardiff University website
  5. ^ St. Luke's School website
  6. ^ "C of I bishop backs civil marriage for same-sex couples". Irish Times. 18 May 2014.
  7. ^ St. Luke's Charity, Cork
  8. ^ A Generous Heartfelt Welcome for New Bishop of Cork, Irish Examiner, 30 June 2019