Tim Thornton (bishop)

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The Right Reverend
Tim Thornton
Bishop of Truro
Church Church of England
Diocese Diocese of Truro
In office 2009 – 2017 (announced)
Predecessor Bill Ind
Other posts Bishop of Sherborne (2001–2008)
Lord Spiritual (2013–present)
Bishop-designate at Lambeth (2017 onwards)
Ordination 1980
Consecration 21 October 2001
by George Carey
Personal details
Born (1957-04-14) 14 April 1957 (age 60)
Nationality British
Denomination Anglican
Residence Lis Escop, Truro
Spouse Siân
Children two
Alma mater University of Southampton
King's College London

Timothy Martin "Tim" Thornton (born 14 April 1957) is a British Anglican bishop and Lord Spiritual. He is the current Bishop of Truro, having previously been the area Bishop of Sherborne from 2001 to 2008. He has been a Member of the House of Lords since 2013.[1] On 4 April 2017, it was announced that Thornton is to resign his See to become Bishop at Lambeth in September 2017.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Thornton was born on 14 April 1957.[3] He was educated at Devonport High School for Boys, an all-boys grammar school in Plymouth, Devon.[4] He studied theology at the University of Southampton, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in 1978.[4][5] That year, he entered St Stephen's House, Oxford, an Anglo-Catholic theological college, to train for the priesthood.[5] He later studied at King's College London graduating with an MA in 1997.[6]

Ordained ministry[edit]

Ordained in 1980, he began his ministry with a curacy at Todmorden and then as priest-in-charge at Walsden. He then became bishop's chaplain to David Hope: successively in the Diocese of Wakefield and the Diocese of London. From 1994 until 1998 he was Principal of the North Thames Ministerial Training Course. His final post before his ordination to the episcopate was as the vicar of Kensington.

Episcopal ministry[edit]

On 21 October 2001, Thornton was consecrated a bishop by George Carey, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, at Southwark Cathedral.[7] From 2001 to 2008, he served as the Bishop of Sherborne, an area bishop of the Diocese of Salisbury.[8][9] He was installed as Bishop of Truro at Truro Cathedral on 7 March 2009.

In 2013, Thornton became eligible to join the Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords upon the retirement of Nigel McCulloch, the then Bishop of Manchester, as the next longest serving diocesan bishop.[4][10] He officially became a Lord spiritual on 31 January 2013.[10] However, he did not take his seat until he was introduced to the House in April 2013.[4]

On 4 April 2017, it was announced that he is to resign his See to become Bishop at Lambeth, the Archbishop of Canterbury's episcopal chief of staff at Lambeth Palace, in September 2017.[2]

Other work[edit]

Thornton has chaired the Board of Trustees of The Children's Society from 2010. He was a trustee of the Church Army 2000-2008. He is a trustee of the following Cornish charities: Volunteer Cornwall, BF Adventure (formerly Bishops Forum), Cornwall Community Foundation.[11]

In 2015, Thornton was the Anglican delegate to the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the (Roman Catholic) Synod of Bishops.

Elliott Review controversy[edit]

In March 2016, Thornton was cited in a Guardian report[12] on the Elliott Review as one of several senior figures who had received a disclosure of child sex abuse but had "no recollection". The review, led by Ian Elliott, found this lack of memory difficult to countenance. "What is surprising about this is that he (the survivor) would be speaking about a serious and sadistic sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by a senior member of the hierarchy. The fact that these conversations could be forgotten about is hard to accept," Elliott wrote. The survivor had tried repeatedly to alert the Archbishop's office to critical concerns arising from these denials, but was ignored on the instruction of the church's insurers.[13] The resulting Elliott Review led to damning headlines across the UK and world media[14][15][16][17][18][19] and kickstarted significant cultural and structural change in the Church of England's response to sex abuse cases. The review called for all bishops to be retrained.[20][21] The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, reportedly said "the situation is embarrassing and uncomfortable for the church."[22] In an open letter the survivor urged Thornton to lead a call for repentance across the House of Bishops.[23][24]

Personal life[edit]

Thornton is married to Siân, a primary school teacher.[4][25] Together, they have two adult children.[4][26]



  1. ^ Parliament: New Lords, 31 January 2013.
  2. ^ a b Lambeth Palace — Tim Thornton announced as new Bishop at Lambeth (Accessed 4 April 2017)
  3. ^ Thornton, Timothy Martin. ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2017 (November 2016 online ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. Retrieved 31 May 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Truro Bishop Tim takes up his seat in Lords". Western Morning News. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Timothy Martin Thornton". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 26 December 2015.  (subscription required)
  6. ^ Debrett's People of Today London, Debrett's, 2008 ISBN 978-1-870520-95-9
  7. ^ "News (in brief): Say what you really think, two new bishops told (Archived; subscription only)". Church Times (#7236). 26 October 2001. p. 4. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 11 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ Anglican communion
  9. ^ Official announcement
  10. ^ a b "Bishop of Truro". House of Lords. Retrieved 26 December 2015. 
  11. ^ UK Parliament website: Biographies of Peers
  12. ^ "Damning report reveals Church of England's failure to act on abuse". The Guardian. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  13. ^ "Church cut contact with child abuse victim on order of insurers". National Secular Society. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  14. ^ "Welby’s staff ignored abuse to save money". The Times. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  15. ^ "Church of England figures ignored 'sadistic' abuse of 15-year-old boy by senior priest for 40 years, report says". The Independent. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  16. ^ "Church of England vows to change after damning report on abuse". The Week. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  17. ^ "Church of England 'will change' after abuse report". BBC News. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  18. ^ "Archbishop of Canterbury's office criticised for 'ignoring' abuse complaints". The Telegraph. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  19. ^ "Church of England ignored sex abuse victim for decades". New Europe. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  20. ^ "Senior clergy must be retrained to deal with sex abuse disclosures". The Guardian. 15 May 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  21. ^ "Church of England clergy need 'systematic retraining' on dealing with sex abuse reports". International Business Times. 15 May 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016. 
  22. ^ "Church of England Rocked by 'Deeply Disturbing' Sex Abuse Report". Christian Post. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  23. ^ "Joe’s letter to the House of Bishops of the Church of England". Surviving Church. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  24. ^ "Bishops must repent for inaction on child abuse, says survivor". Church Times. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  25. ^ Truro Cathedral News
  26. ^ Number 10 — Suffragan See of Sherborne
Church of England titles
Preceded by
John Kirkham
Bishop of Sherborne
Succeeded by
Graham Kings
Preceded by
Bill Ind
Bishop of Truro
Preceded by
Nigel Stock
Bishop at Lambeth
2017 onwards