William King (bishop)

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William King

Archbishop of Dublin
Primate of Ireland
ChurchChurch of Ireland
Appointed11 March 1703
In office1703-1729
PredecessorNarcissus Marsh
SuccessorJohn Hoadly
Ordination12 April 1674
by John Parker
Consecration25 January 1691
by Francis Marsh
Personal details
Born1 May 1650
Antrim, County Antrim, Kingdom of Ireland
DiedMay 8, 1729(1729-05-08) (aged 79)
Dublin, Kingdom of Ireland
BuriedSt Mary's Church, Donnybrook
Previous postBishop of Derry (1691-1703)

William King (1 May 1650 - 8 May 1729) was an Anglican divine in the Church of Ireland, who was Archbishop of Dublin from 1703 to 1729. He was an author and supported the Glorious Revolution. He had considerable political influence in Ireland, including for a time what amounted to a veto on judicial appointments.

Early life[edit]

King was born in May 1650 in County Antrim; his parents were recent settlers from Aberdeen. He was educated at The Royal School, Dungannon, County Tyrone, and thereafter at Trinity College, Dublin, graduating BA on 23 February 1670 and MA in 1673.[1]


On 25 October 1671, King was ordained a deacon as chaplain to John Parker, archbishop of Tuam, and on 14 July 1673 Parker gave him the prebend of Kilmainmore, County Mayo. King, who lived as part of Parker's household, was ordained a priest on 12 April 1674.[1]

His support of the Glorious Revolution in 1688 served to advance his position. He became Bishop of Derry in 1691. He was advanced to the position of Archbishop of Dublin in 1703, a post he would hold until his death. He gave £1,000 for the founding of "Archbishop King's Professorship of Divinity" at Trinity College in 1718. Much of his correspondence survives and provides a historic resource for the study of the Ireland of his time. He died in May 1729.

King's years as a bishop were marked by reform and the building of churches and glebe houses, and by the dispensing of charity. He was generally regarded as a man of sense and good judgment, and his political influence was considerable: he was always consulted on judicial appointments and at times seems to have had an effective veto over candidates he considered unsuitable. His influence declined after the appointment of Hugh Boulter as Archbishop of Armagh in 1724, as Boulter also interfered in judicial appointments, and the two could rarely agree on a suitable candidate.

Boulter's preferment to Armagh, passing over his own more obvious claims, was a bitter disappointment to him. He took a petty revenge at their first meeting by refusing to get up from his chair, saying that he was too old to stand. He was a vocal opponent of Wood's halfpence during the 1720s.[1]


As a man of letters he wrote The State of the Protestants in Ireland under King James's Government in 1691 and De Origine Mali in 1702, translated into English with extensive notes by Edmund Law in 1731 as An Essay on the Origin of Evil; it was also subject to a well-known critical discussion by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, published as an appendix to Leibniz's Théodicée.


  1. ^ a b c Connolly, S. J. "King, William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/15605.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Further reading[edit]

  • C. S. King, ed. A great Archbishop of Dublin, William King, D.D., 1650-1729: His autobiography, family, and a selection from his correspondence; 1906, Longman,Green.
  • Philip O'Regan; Archbishop William King, 1650-1729 and the Constitution in Church and State; 2000, Four Courts Press, ISBN 1-85182-464-2.
  • Robert S. Matteson, A large private park: the collection of Archbishop William King 1650–1729. Cambridge: LP Publications, 2003. (Libri Pertinentes, no. 7) 2 vols ISBN 0-9518811-6-7; co-published with Tempe (Arizona): Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2003. ISBN 0-86698-304-X
  • Fauske, Christopher, ed. Archbishop William King and the Anglican Irish Context, 1688-1729; 2004, Four Courts Press, ISBN 1-85182-681-5.
  • Fauske, Christopher, A Political Biography of William King; 2011, Chatto and Pickering, ISBN 978-1-84893-010-0.
Religious titles
Preceded by
Ezekiel Hopkins
Bishop of Derry
Succeeded by
Charles Hickman
Preceded by
Narcissus Marsh
Archbishop of Dublin
Succeeded by
John Hoadly