A Selection of the Clergy,

Past & Present




































Robert is regarded by some as the most illustrious of the past Rectors of Bishopwearmouth. His chief claim to fame was his election  to the Papacy in 1378. What is perhaps likely is that Robert acquired the Rectorship (a highly prized living at the time), in order that he could use the income for election expenses for the Papacy. He became one of the two 'Popes' at the start of the period known in Christian history as the Great Western Schism, calling himself  Clement VII


Born in Bristol in 1546, Tobias started his education at Wells and went on to Oxford where he matriculated as a probationer of University College in 1559. He then went to Christ Church College where he took his BA and MA.

        His ecclesiastical career started with his ordination in 1566. He was Rector of Algay; Dean of Christ Church; Canon of Wells; Chanter and Precentor of Salisbury and Dean of Durham-all in the space of 11 years! In 1590 he was inducted as Rector of Bishopwearmouth and on 22nd April 1595 he became Bishop of Durham.

Archbishop Matthew died at Cawood on 20th March 1628, at the age of 82 and he was buried in the Lady Chapel in York Minster.  


On the 'promotion' of Tobias Matthew to the Bishopric of Durham, Francis Burgoyne was collated to the Rectory of Bishopwearmouth in April 1595 and stayed at Bishopwearmouth for a period of 38 years. 

During that time he became a Prebendary of the 8th Stall at Durham and Archdeacon of Northumberland, all posts which he held until his death in 1633. 

It is known that, during his incumbency at Bishopwearmouth, Francis Burgoyne was involved in some alterations to the church which included the installation of Jacobean carved panelling in the Chancel and some pews and a new pulpit. Most of this was lost  in the 1806~1810 alterations but in 1925 the old Jacobean pulpit was found in Trimdon Street and although it was unable to be restored, the panels were saved and used for the front is a piece of the altar which is in the Bede Chapel to the South of the Chancel.


Having achieved his M.A. by the age of 23, Henry Egerton was proving his ability among a family of ecclesiastic notables of the period which included his father who was Bishop of Hereford, and his brother John who later became Bishop of Durham. 

Henry was Rector of Whitchurch, Salop; Archdeacon of Derby; and a Prebendal Stall holder of York from which he resigned in May 1773 for the second Prebendal Stall of Durham which he retained until 1795. He was appointed Rector of Bishopwearmouth in 1776.  He died on 28th February 1795 at the age of 66 years and was interred in St. Giles Church, Durham.


Dr. Paley was born at Peterborough in July 1743, to the Reverend and Mrs. William Paley.  His education was pursued at  Giggleswick and then Christ's College, Cambridge.

In 1766 he was appointed a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge but left when Bishop Law offered him a small Rectorship at Musgrove in Westmoreland, which was accepted and taken up in 1775. 

In 1794 his celebrated "View of the Evidences of Christianity" was to put Paley firmly among the 'greats' of Theology. Honours were to shower on him. Dr. Porteus, Bishop of London, gave him a Prebendal Stall at St. Paul's in August 1794. The Bishop of Lincoln,   Dr. Towline, gave him the Sub-Deanery at Lincoln and Dr. Shute Barrington, the Bishop of Durham, added to his rewards by giving him the valuable living of Bishopwearmouth. Dr. Paley vacated his posts at Stanwix and Addingham, as well as his Prebendal Stall and the Chancellorship at Carlisle. 

From 1795 until 1805, Paley spent most of his time at his parish of Bishopwearmouth with a three month trip to his house at Lincoln each year. His wife died in 1791 leaving him a widower with eight children. He remarried in 1795 to a Miss Dobinson of Carlisle, a lady of reasonable wealth and standing.  On the 25th May of that year,1805, he died at Bishopwearmouth Rectory. He was buried  near his first wife in the Cathedral of Carlisle. 

There is little doubt that Paley is the outstanding theologian among the Rectors of Bishopwearmouth but he himself recognised    that his time spent mainly at study for his literary works was rather at the expense of his ministry. 



The son of Robert Gray, a wealthy London silversmith, young Robert was educated at Eton and after matriculating at St. Mary's Hall, Oxford, he went on to gain his B.A., M.A. and Doctorate of Divinity by 1802. 

In 1804 he had been collated to the seventh Prebendal Stall at Durham and on the death of Dr. Paley he took over the Rectorship of Bishopwearmouth. 

Bishopwearmouth Church had fallen into disrepair over the years and Dr. Gray set about the task of restoring it. The church was extensively renovated and it is to Dr. Gray that the credit goes for saving the Medieval Chancel and adding six bells in the West Tower. 

Such was Dr. Gray's enthusiasm in the restoration of this fine old church that he 'nominated' people to donate sums of money   toward the cost. One such nomination was Richard Pemberton, the owner of the estate of Bambridge Holme. Richard refused to    pay the sum which he had been nominated to 'donate' and, after a lengthy period of arguing, Dr. Gray had to pay the sum (approximately 70) out of his own pocket! 

Dr. Gray's period at Bishopwearmouth lasted from 1805 until he became Bishop of Bristol in 1827. He died in 1833. 

Dr. Gray's nephew, also called Robert, was a curate at Bishopwearmouth in 1816 and later achieved renown as the Rector of Sunderland Parish for his abundant charitable work for the sick and poor of the town during his period of office. He tragically died from a fever he caught whilst visiting the sick of his parish. Upwards of thirty thousand people lined the streets for his funeral. 


Dr. Wellesley was the son of the first Earl of Mornington and the brother of the famous first Duke of Wellington. 

Among the many appointments prior to his Rectorship at Bishopwearmouth, Dr. Wellesley was Rector of Beachampton, of Staines,   of St. Luke's, Chelsea, and of Thesfield, Herts. 

He received many honours, possibly as a result of his family connections rather than his ecclesiastical abilities. St. Paul's,  Westminster Abbey and Durham Cathedral were three of the places in which he held Prebendary Stalls. He was also made third Canon of St. Paul's and Chaplain in Ordinary to the king. 

With his many connections with London churches, he did little in the parish of Bishopwearmouth, leaving the day-to-day running of his ministry to his curates. 

Dr. Wellesley presented two bells to Sunderland Parish Church (Holy Trinity, Hendon) in 1829 and gave 200 towards the cost of the erection of St. Andrew's Church, Deptford, Sunderland. He died in 1848 at the College, Durham City. 


Born in Markham, Norfolk, Robert was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge where he gained his M.A. in 1859 ; in due course, became a Fellow of his college. He was ordained into the priesthood in 1857 and prior to coming to the Diocese of Durham    in 1874, he served the church in a number of posts in the South of England. 

From the time of his appointment in 1874 as Vicar of Bishop Auckland, he received many ecclesiastical positions. He was Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Durham; Chaplain to Bishop Lightfoot and Bishop Westcott (1879-1901); Rural Dean of North Darlington (1875-80); Rural Dean of Auckland (1875-83); Proctor in Convocation (1880-82); Commissary to the Bishop of Rupertsland (1875-1905); Commissary to the Bishop of Mauritius (1898-1904); Commissary to the Archbishop of Rupertsland in 1905 and Rural Dean of Wearmouth from 1896 to 1907.

His period as Rector of Bishopwearmouth lasted from 1883 until his death in November l907. He presented a marble font to the church in memory of his son who died in India in 1902 and this still stands in the Northern part of the Narthex, near the West  Tower. 


Educated at Exeter College, Oxford, he gained his B.A in 1886 and his M.A in 1889.

His first post in the church was that of curate at St. James, Hatcham where he remained until he left for Calcutta in 1890. He stayed in India for ten years, returning to England to take up the position of Rector of St. Paul's, Hendon, Sunderland. In 1904 he became Vicar of Bishop Auckland and on the death of Archdeacon Long in 1907, he was appointed Rector of Bishopwearmouth (inducted     23 April 1908).

In 1910 he was made an Honorary Canon of Durham and had been Chaplain to the Bishop of Durham since 1908. At the time of his appointment to Bishopwearmouth, he was also appointed Rural Dean of Wearmouth, and held both positions until 1923. Among other positions he held were Secretary to the Diocesan Conference and Procter in Convocation (1916-23); Commissary to the Bishop    of the Niger (1921) and for many years he sat on the Infirmary Committee of Sunderland and was a member of the Sunderland Board of Guardians.

    During his period at Bishopwearmouth the Rectory in Gray Road, built in 1858, (now part of the University complex), was sold   and another Rectory bought in Tunstall Road



Having gained a First Class Honours B.A. degree in English (with distinction) at Christ Church, Oxford in 1920, Robert went on to gain his M.A. in Theology.  He served as a curate in Bermondsey and later at Putney before becoming Vicar of St. James, Barrow-   in-Furness from 1927 to 1934.

In 1934 he was Rural Dean of Dalton and, in the same year went on to his appointment as Rector of Bishopwearmouth.

During his period at Bishopwearmouth he was to witness changes both in the church building and for the people of Sunderland. On his appointment in 1934 the church was in a great state of disruption, being in the throes of a major reconstruction and he had the task of supervising the completion of this change.

 He left Bishopwearmouth in 1941 on his appointment as Archdeacon of Doncaster and Vicar of Melton-on-the-Hill holding both posts until 1947. During this time he also held the post of Rural Dean of Doncaster and Chaplain to His Majesty the King (1944-47). 

From 1947 he was the Suffragan Bishop of Woolwich until his resignation in 1959.


Born in 1905, J. F. Richardson was educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge where he received his B.A. in 1925 and his M.A. in 1930. He was ordained in 1930 and served in a number of posts in the South of England before moving North to take up the appointment of Rector of Bishopwearmouth in 1941, a post he was to retain until 1952. 

Among other positions the Reverend Richardson held were Rural Dean of Wearmouth (1947-52); Proctor in Convocation and   Honorary Canon of Durham (1950-52); first Canon Resident of Derby (1955-78); Archdeacon of Derby (1952-78); Archdeacon Emeritus (1973); Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Derby (1952-78) and Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen (1952-75). 

During the Second World War, the East Window of the Chancel of Bishopwearmouth Parish Church was blown in by an enemy bomb. Under the guidance of Reverend Richardson, the window was replaced by the present one which was dedicated as a   memorial to those who died during that war. 

The Venerable John Richardson retired in 1975 and remained in Derby. 


Educated at Christ College, Cambridge, the Reverend Bishop was ordained at Southwark in 1933. Until 1988 he was a curate at St. John's Walworth and from there he came North to Middlesborough as the Curate of St. John's. He moved back to London where he was Vicar and Rural Dean of Camberwell until 1949 when he was appointed Rector of Blakeney with Langham Parva and Rural  Dean of Walsingham. In 1953 he was given the posts of Rector of Bishopwearmouth and Rural Dean of Wearmouth, holding both positions until his promotion to Suffragan Bishop of Malmesbury in 1962. In conjunction with his Bishopric he was Canon of Bristol and Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Bristol. He resigned these posts in 1973 and went into semi-retirement as Priest-in-Charge of Cley-next-Sea with Wivetonin 1976. 


Born in 1914, Donald Goldie gained his B.A. and M.A. at St. Chad's College, Durham. He entered the ministry in 1938 and among  his curacies was Christ Church, Bishopwearmouth (1939-41). 

He was Vicar of St. Luke's, Hartlepool (1944-49); Archdeacon of Cyprus and Chaplain of Nicosia with Kyrenia (1949-55); Vicar of  Holy Trinity, Darlington and Chaplain to Darlington Memorial Hospital (1955-62). Rector of Bishopwearmouth (1962-70); Chaplain  of St. Hilda's Millfield (1966-70); Chaplain to Sunderland Royal Infirmary (1963-70); Honorary Canon of Durham (1965-70) and Vicar  of Bedlington, Northumberland from 1970. 

During his time as Rector of Bishopwearmouth, Donald Goldie took a great interest in the history of this ancient parish and he was able to write a small book on the Mother Church of Bishopwearmouth. This book has proved a useful aid to those studying the changing face of the churches in Sunderland. 


Having obtained two First Class Honours degrees at Cambridge by the age of 23, Kenneth Skelton entered the ministry in 1940 and returned to Cambridge to gain his M.A. in 1944. 

He served as a curate in three parishes in the Midlands before taking up the position of Lecturer at Wells Theological College from 1946-50. He then became Vicar of Howe Bridge (1950-55); Rector of Walton-on-the-Hill (1955-62); Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Liverpool (1957-62); Bishop of Matabele Bulawayo (July 1962 until he resigned in1970); Assistant Bishop of Durham, Rector of Bishopwearmouth and Rural Dean of Wearmouth (1970-75); Church Commissioner for Matabeland (1971-75) and Bishop of Lichfield from 1975. 

 During his period at Bishopwearmouth, Bishop Skelton was a popular figure in the town and was much respected. Since leaving    the Sunderland area he has returned from time to time to look up old friends. It was during his Rectorship at Bishopwearmouth   in that Bishop Skelton received the award of C.B.E. (1972). He retired to Sheffield.



Timothy Tyndall came to the North East in 1975 after 24 years' ministry in Nottinghamshire, latterly as Vicar of Sherwood. He was also rural dean during his ten years at Bishopwearmouth, overseeing a number of changes both in the parish (see the "History"  page) and in the wider deanery. In 1985, he took up the post of Chief Secretary of the Advisory Council for the Church's Ministry, which he held until his retirement in 1990. 


Granville Gibson came to Sunderland having previously been Vicar of Newton Aycliffe (in the south of Durham Diocese). During Granville's time, the parish of Bishopwearmouth was united with the parish of Sunderland (its parish church, Holy Trinity, passed into the care of the Redundant Churches Fund in 1988, and its congregation moved into the former Donnison School in the East  End), a Team Ministry was created (which included also the Chaplain at the newly-inaugurated University), and Granville became  its first Team Rector. In 1993, he returned to the south of the diocese as Archdeacon of Auckland.


Having been, for almost a decade, the Industrial Chaplain of Sunderland, Brian Hails continued in that role whilst taking up the Team Rector's post, thus initiating new links between the parish and the industrial and commercial life of the newly-designated city. Shortly afterwards, a second member of the team was appointed with specific Industrial Mission links. During Brian's time, Christ Church Bishopwearmouth, the neighbouring parish, closed. Whilst much of that parish became part of the parish of St. Nicholas',  the majority of the congregation became part of the congregation at the newly-created Minster. Brian retired on St. Michael's day 1999.

2000 -2011  STEPHEN TAYLOR

Stephen Taylor became the third Team Rector on 7th May 2000, having previously been for 8 years Vicar of Stranton, in Hartlepool. Stephen did not follow Brian in the Industrial Chaplain's role, but the Team was reorganised so that two of its Team Vicars were engaged in Industrial Chaplaincy. The University Chaplaincy link continued, and the Team now also included a University lecturer  in Religious Studies as Associate Vicar."

The above notes are extracted (and much abridged by myself) from a booklet written for Bishopwearmouth Church by Brian A Myers.

This abridgement cannot do justice to the full volume and I commend that booklet, which contains an extensive bibliography for further reading, to anyone seeking further information about the incumbents of churches on this ancient site.

So, it appears that Stephen Taylor will be the last Rector of Bishopwearmouth after and almost unbroken 1,000 years plus (see   Things Political page) - and this saddens me greatly With his recent departure, this page ends !