Bishop of Carlisle

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Bishop of Carlisle
Diocese of Carlisle.PNG
James Newcome

Cathedral:Carlisle Cathedral
First Bishop:Æthelwold
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Bishop of Carlisle
Diocese of Carlisle.PNG
James Newcome

Cathedral:Carlisle Cathedral
First Bishop:Æthelwold

The Bishop of Carlisle is the Ordinary of the Church of England Diocese of Carlisle in the Province of York.

The diocese covers the County of Cumbria except for Alston Moor and the former Sedbergh Rural District. The see is in the City of Carlisle where the seat is located at the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity which was a collegiate church until elevated to cathedral status in 1133.

The diocese was created in 1133 by Henry I out of part of the Diocese of Durham. It was extended in 1856 taking over part of the Diocese of Chester. The residence of the bishop was Rose Castle, near Carlisle until 2009.[1] The current bishop is the first to reside in the new Bishop's House, Keswick.

The current bishop is The Right Reverend James Newcome, the 67th Bishop of Carlisle, who signs James Carliol and was enthroned on 10 October 2009.[2]


Early times[edit]

The original territory of the diocese first became a political unit in the reign of King William Rufus (1087–1100), who made it into the Earldom of Carlisle, which covered most of the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland. In 1133, during the reign of his successor, Henry I, a diocese was erected in the territory of the earldom, the territory being subtracted from the Diocese of Durham. This happened despite there being locally a strong Celtic element that looked to Glasgow for episcopal administration. As the first bishop, the king secured the appointment of his former confessor, Æthelwulf (1133–1155), an Englishman, Prior of the Augustinian Canons, whom he had established at Carlisle in 1102, though at the time of his consecration Æthelwulf seems to have been Prior of the Augustinian house at Nostell in Yorkshire. An efficient administrator, he ruled the diocese until his death in 1156 and succeeded in imparting a certain vigour to diocesan life. Among other initiatives, he built a moderate-sized Norman minster of which the transepts and part of the nave still exist. To serve this cathedral he introduced his own Augustinian brethren, with the result that Carlisle was the only see in England with an Augustinian cathedral chapter, the other monastic cathedral chapters in England consisting of Benedictine monks. There was only one archdeaconry, that of Carlisle.

Of the next bishop, Bernard, little is known, and after his death, in or about 1186, there was a long vacancy, during which the diocese was administered by another Bernard, Archbishop of Ragusa. During this period Carlisle suffered severely from the incursions of the Scots, and early in the reign of Henry III the king complained to the Pope that Carlisle had revolted in favour of Scotland, and that the canons had elected a bishop for themselves. The papal legate, Gualo, punished this action by exiling the canons and appointing Hugh, Abbot of Beaulieu, a good administrator, as bishop.

It was important to the English government to have a reliable prelate at Carlisle, as they constantly looked to the bishop to attend to Scottish affairs, negotiate treaties, and generally play the part of diplomat. The next bishop was Walter Malclerk, formerly agent of King John, and a prominent figure in the reign of Henry III. Always a patron of the Friars Preachers, he introduced both Dominicans and Franciscans into the city and diocese. He resigned his see in 1246 in order to join the Order of St. Dominic. About this time a new choir was begun and carried to completion, only to be destroyed in the great fire of 1292.

A fresh beginning was made by the energetic Bishop John de Halton (1292–1324), a favourite of Edward I, and for nearly a hundred years the building of the present choir proceeded, though with many interruptions. Its chief glory is the great East window, remarkable both for its own beauty and as marking a transition from the earlier style to the perfection of tracery. During this time the see was governed by a line of bishops, busy and useful diplomats in their day, but not remarkable in other respects. One of these was Thomas Merke, a close friend of Richard II, who was later tried for high treason under Henry IV and deprived. The subsequent bishops were scholars, frequently employed in negotiating truces and treaties with Scotland, and several of them were Chancellors of Oxford or of Cambridge University.

Tudor Period[edit]

Among this generation of scholar diplomats was Cardinal Thomas Wolsey's friend, John Kite (1521–1537), who remained faithful to his master, and who supported him in the poverty of his latter days.

The last of the bishops in communion with Rome was Owen Oglethorpe, a kindly-tempered man who was prevailed on to crown Elizabeth when no other bishop could be found to do it. This was an act he afterwards much regretted. On Christmas Day after the Queen’s accession he disobeyed the note she sent him in the Chapel Royal forbidding him to elevate the Sacred Host in her presence. His refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy led to his being deprived of his title along with the other bishops, and he died a prisoner 31 December 1559. Under Owen Ogelthorp Carlisle was a poor diocese, and when the Reformers plundered the churches they found little but a chalice in each, and even of these some were of tin.

After Ogelthorp's deprivation and death, Bernard Gilpin was to succeed him in Carlisle but he refused though much pressed to it, the Bishopric was conferred on one John Best, who was consecrated 2 March 1560. Bishop John Best was the first post-Marian Anglican Bishop at Carlisle. Bishop Best was the 31st Bishop of Carlisle from 2 May 1561 to his death on 22 May 1570.

Subsequent Centuries[edit]

The cathedral, originally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, received its current dedication at the time of the Reformation.

The diocese was extended in 1856 by the addition of part of the Diocese of Chester.

List of bishops[edit]

Bishops of Carlisle
11331156ÆthelwoldAdelulf; Prior of St Oswald's, Nostell.
11561186See vacant
1186Paulinus of LeedsMaster of St. Leonard's hospital, York; elected at Richard I's wish, but declined.
11861203See vacant
12031214BernardTranslated from Ragusa by Pope Innocent III; received royal assent 1204.
12141218See vacantScottish occupation 1216 to 1217.
12181223Hugh of BeaulieuAbbot of Beaulieu Abbey.
12231246Walter MauclerkWalter Mauclerc; also Lord Treasurer 1227–33; resigned 1246.
12461254Silvester de EverdonPreviously Archdeacon of Chester and Keeper of the Great Seal.
12551256Thomas VipontThomas de Veteri Ponte; previously Rector of Greystoke.
1256Robert de Sancta AgathaPreviously Archdeacon of Northumberland; elected but declined; later Archdeacon of Durham.
12581278Robert de ChauncyRobert de Chause; Previously Archdeacon of Bath; chaplain to the queen.
1278William LangtonWilliam de Langeton or William of Rotherfield; Dean of York; elected but refused.
12801292Ralph of IrtonRalph de Ireton or Ralph Ireton; Prior of Gisborough Priory.
12921324John de HaltonJohn de Halghton; Canon of Carlisle.
1325William AyremynCanon of York; elected 7 Jan 1325, but quashed 13 Feb 1325.
13251332John RossJohn de Rosse or John Ross; son of Lord de Ros. Canon of Hereford; appointed by Pope John XXII.
13321352John KirkbyJohn de Kirkeby; Canon of Carlisle.
1352John HorncastleJohn de Horncastle; elected but set aside by Pope Clement VI before consecration.
13531362Gilbert WeltonGilbert de Wilton.
13631395Thomas ApplebyThomas de Appleby; Canon of Carlisle.
1396Robert ReedRobert Reade; translated from Waterford and Lismore; translated to Chichester.
13971400Thomas MerkeThomas Merkes or Thomas Merks; deprived and imprisoned 10 January 1400, pardoned the following year, thereafter served as a deputy and acting bishop in Winchester.
14001419William Strickland
14201423Roger WhelpdaleProvost of Queens' College, Cambridge.
14231429William BarrowWilliam Barrowe; translated from Bangor.
14291449Marmaduke LumleyPreviously Archdeacon of Northumberland and Chancellor of the University of Cambridge; also Lord Treasurer 1446–9; translated to Lincoln.
14501452Nicholas ClosePreviously Archdeacon of Colchester; translated to Lichfield & Coventry.
14521462William PercyAlso Chancellor of the University of Cambridge 1451–6.
14621463John KingscoteJohn Kingscotes; previously Archdeacon of Gloucester.
14641468Richard ScroopeRichard Scrope; Rector of Fen-Ditton, Cambridgeshire.
14681478Edward StoryAlso Chancellor of the University of Cambridge 1468–9; translated to Chichester.
14781495Richard BellPreviously Prior of Durham; resigned; died 1496.
14951502William SenhouseWilliam Sever or William Seveyer; Abbot of St Mary's Abbey, York; translated to Durham.
15031508Roger LeyburnRichard Leyburn; Archdeacon of Durham.
15081520John PennyTranslated from Bangor.
15211537John KiteTranslated from Armagh; titular Archbishop of Thebes 1521–37.
15371556Robert AldrichProvost of Eton and Canon of Windsor.
15571559Owen OglethorpeDean of Windsor; crowned Elizabeth I 15 January; deprived 26 June; died 31 December 1559.
1560Bernard Gilpin BDDeclined the bishopric on the death of Oglethorpe.
15601570John BestPrebendary of Wells.
15701577Richard BarnesPreviously suffragan Bishop of Nottingham 1567–70; later translated to Durham.
15771598John MayPrebendary of Ely.
15981616Henry RobinsonProvost of Queens' College, Cambridge.
16161621Robert SnodenRobert Snowden or Robert Snowdon; Prebendary of Southwell.
16211624Richard MilbourneTranslated to St David's.
16241626Richard SenhouseDean of Gloucester.
16261629Francis WhiteDean of Carlisle; translated to Norwich.
16291642Barnaby PotterProvost of Queen's College, Oxford.
16421656James Ussherin commendam only; Archbishop of Armagh; died in office.
16561660See vacantEpiscopacy abolished during the English Interregnum.
16601664Richard SterneMaster of Jesus College, Cambridge; translated to York.
16641684Edward RainboweRobert Snowdon.
16841702Thomas SmithDean of Carlisle.
17021718William NicolsonArchdeacon and Prebendary of Carlisle; translated to Derry.
17181723Samuel BradfordPrebendary of Westminster; translated to Rochester.
17231734John WaughDean of Gloucester.
17341747Sir George Fleming BtDean of Carlisle.
17471762Richard OsbaldestonDean of York; translated to London.
17621768Charles LytteltonDean of Exeter.
17691787Edmund LawArchdeacon of Carlisle.
17871791John DouglasCanon-resident of St Paul's; translated to Salisbury.
17911808The Hon Edward Venables-VernonLater Venables-Vernon-Harcourt; translated to York.
18081827Samuel GoodenoughDied in office.
18271856The Hon Hugh PercyTranslated from Rochester; died in office.
18561860The Hon Henry VilliersCanon of St Paul's; translated to Durham.
18601869The Hon Samuel WaldegraveCanon of Salisbury; died in office.
18691891Harvey GoodwinDean of Ely.
18921904John BardsleyTranslated from Sodor and Man.
19051920John Diggle
19201946Henry WilliamsResigned 1946; died 1961.
19461966Thomas BloomerResigned 1966; died 1984.
19661972Cyril BulleyPreviously suffragan Bishop of Penrith; resigned 1972; died 1989.
19721989David HalseyPreviously suffragan Bishop of Tonbridge; died 2009.
19891999Ian HarlandPreviously suffragan Bishop of Lancaster; died 2008.
20002009Graham Dow
2009presentJames NewcomePreviously suffragan Bishop of Penrith.


  1. ^ "Talks held over future of Rose Castle". BBC. 31 January 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  2. ^ "New Bishop of Carlisle is set to be enthroned". Westmorland Gazette. 10 October 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2009. 

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