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Archbishop of York is a high-ranking cleric in the Church of England, second only to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He is the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Yorkmarker and metropolitan of the Province of York, which covers the northern portion of England (north of the Trent) as well as the Isle of Manmarker. The archbishop is a member ex officio of the House of Lordsmarker, and is styled Primate of England. (The Archbishop of Canterbury is "Primate of All England".)

His throne is in York Minstermarker in central Yorkmarker and his official residence is Bishopthorpe Palacemarker in the village of Bishopthorpemarker, outside York.

The incumbent, since 5 October 2005, is the Most Reverend John Sentamu. It is customary for a Church of England Bishop or Archbishop to sign himself with his given name and the (usually abbreviated) Latin name of his See - in this case "Ebor:" which is an abbreviation of Eboracum, the Latin name for Yorkmarker. The present archbishop has chosen to sign himself "Sentamu Ebor" instead of "John Ebor" because Sentamu is in fact not his surname but another given name (in Uganda surnames (family names) are uncommon, most people simply having several given names, often one from Christian tradition and one from Ugandan, which can be used interchangeably).



There was a bishop in York from very early Christian times. Bishops of York were particularly present at the Councils of Arles and Nicaea. However, this early Christian community was later destroyed by the pagan Saxons and there is no direct line of descent from these bishops to the post-Augustinian ones.

Saxon, Viking and Medieval

The diocese was refounded by Paulinus (a member of Augustine's mission) in the 7th century. Notable among these early bishops is Wilfrid. These early bishops of York acted as diocesan rather than archdiocesan prelates until the time of Ecgbert of York, who received the pallium from Pope Gregory III in 735 and established metropolitan rights in the north. Until the Danish invasion the archbishops of Canterbury occasionally exercised authority, and it was not till the Norman Conquest that the archbishops of York asserted their complete independence.

At the time of the Norman invasion York had jurisdiction over Worcestermarker, Lichfieldmarker, and Lincolnmarker, as well as the dioceses in the Northern Isles and Scotlandmarker. But the first three sees just mentioned were taken from York in 1072. In 1154 the suffragan sees of the Isle of Manmarker and Orkneymarker were transferred to the Norwegian archbishop of Nidaros (today's Trondheim), and in 1188 all the Scottish dioceses except Whithornmarker were released from subjection to York, so that only the dioceses of Whithorn, Durhammarker, and Carlislemarker remained to the Archbishops as suffragan sees. Of these, Durham was practically independent, for the palatine bishops of that see were little short of sovereigns in their own jurisdiction. Sodor and Man were returned to York during the fourteenth century, to compensate for the loss of Whithorn to the Scottish Church.

Several of the archbishops of York held the ministerial office of Lord Chancellor of England and played some parts in affairs of state. As Peter Heylyn (1600–1662) wrote: "This see has yielded to the Church eight saints, to the Church of Rome three cardinals, to the realm of England twelve Lord Chancellors and two Lord Treasurers, and to the north of England two Lord President." The bishopric's role was also complicated by continued conflict over primacy with the see of Canterbury.


At the time of the Reformation York possessed three suffragan sees, Durham, Carlisle, and Sodor and Man, to which during the brief space of Queen Mary I's reign (1553-1558) may be added the Diocese of Chester, founded by Henry VIII, but subsequently recognized by the Pope.

Until 1559, the bishops and archbishops were in Communion with the Pope in Rome. This is no longer the case as the Archbishop of York together with the rest of the Church of England is part of the Anglican Communion.

Walter de Grey purchased York Placemarker in Londonmarker, which after the fall of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, was to become the Palace of Whitehallmarker.

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