Famous British Spiritual & Religious Leaders

Right IconThis ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Spirituality and religion are considered by many to be the ways of disciplining one’s thought process and lifestyle. Spirituality has definitely helped the world in achieving that to a great extent, and religion has always been the beacon of hope for the masses. The opinions of spiritual and political leaders from Britain and other European nations have also been sought by political leaders for serious matters concerning the society. Some of the famous British religious leaders are William Davy, Anthony Anderson, Edward Leeds, Stephen Addington and Russell Lant Carpenter. Amongst the present day British religious leaders, Aga Khan IV is a well-known name in the country. These preachers have penned numerous books of great religious and spiritual importance. These books have played an important role in influencing the religious thoughts of the country’s youth. A few such literary works of religious prominence are ‘Maxims religious and prudential, with a Sermon to young People’ and ‘A System of Divinity on the Being, Nature, and Attributes of God’. Here is a collection of biographies of spiritual & religious leaders from Britain. Explore and know more about their life stories, timelines and interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.
Vote for Your Favourite British Spiritual & Religious Leaders
 1 
Thomas More
(Catholic Saint)
Thomas More
5
Birthdate: February 7, 1478
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: City of London
Died: July 6, 1535
Lawyer, philosopher, and poet Thomas More, author of Utopia, had served as the British Lord Chancellor for 3 years. He opposed Henry VIII's separation from the Catholic Church and refused to take the Oath of Supremacy. He was thus beheaded for treason. Pope Pius XI later declared him a martyr.
 2 
John Wesley
(English Clergyman, Theologian, Evangelist and Co-Founder of the Methodist Movement in the Church of England)
John Wesley
4
Birthdate: June 28, 1703
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Epworth, England
Died: March 2, 1791

John Wesley was an English cleric, evangelist, and theologian. He is best remembered for leading a revival movement called Methodism within the Church of England. He is credited with founding societies that eventually became the dominant form of the Methodist movement, which remains relevant today. He continues to be the main theological influence on Methodists all over the world.

 3 
Bede
(English Monk at the Monastery of St. Peter, Best Known for His Work 'Ecclesiastical History of the English People')
Bede
4
Birthdate: 0673 AD
Birthplace: Jarrow, England
Died: May 26, 0735

Best known for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, The Venerable Bede was an Anglo Saxon theologian and historian. An English Benedictine monk, he was taken to the monastery of St. Peter at age 7. He is now revered as the patron saint of English writers and historians.

 4 
Saint Patrick
(Bishop and Patron Saint of Ireland)
Saint Patrick
0
Birthdate: 0385 AD
Birthplace: Roman Britain
Died: March 17, 0461

Saint Patrick was a Romano-British bishop and Christian missionary in Ireland. Widely regarded as the main patron saint of Ireland, Patrick is often referred to as the Apostle of Ireland. According to early medieval tradition, Patrick is credited with popularizing Christianity in Ireland. His life and work inspired the 2000 TV historical drama film, St. Patrick: The Irish Legend.

 5 
Thomas Cranmer
(First Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury)
Thomas Cranmer
4
Birthdate: July 2, 1489
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Aslockton
Died: March 21, 1556

Thomas Cranmer was the first Protestant to be the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was instrumental in the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which led to the separation of the English Church from the See of Rome. He was eventually burnt at the stake for preaching Protestantism.

 6 
Reginald Pole
(Archbishop of Canterbury)
Reginald Pole
3
Birthdate: March 3, 1500
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Stourton Castle, England
Died: November 17, 1558

Roman Catholic cardinal Reginald Pole had been the archbishop of Canterbury. Half of his education expenses was covered by fellowships from King Henry VII. A prominent member of the government under Mary Tudor, he re-established many monasteries and also let the burnings of Protestants continue.

 7 
Rowan Douglas Williams
(104th Archbishop of Canterbury)
Rowan Douglas Williams
3
Birthdate: June 14, 1950
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales

Rowan Douglas Williams became the first archbishop of Canterbury who was not from the Church of England. The Welsh Anglican bishop has been quite liberal in his views on homosexuality. He has also taught theology courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and is a life peer.

 8 
Aga Khan IV
(49th Imam of Nizari Ismaili Shia Islam )
Aga Khan IV
4
Birthdate: December 13, 1936
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland

Aga Khan IV is the current Imam of Nizari Ismailism. Serving as the imam since 1957, Aga Khan claims to be a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Apart from being the current leader of the Institution of the Imamate, Aga Khan is also a business magnate and one of the world's richest royals, according to Forbes.

 9 
Justin Welby
(105th Archbishop of Canterbury and the Most Senior Bishop in the Church of England)
Justin Welby
4
Birthdate: January 6, 1956
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England

Justin Welby is the most senior bishop in the Church of England and the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. In the past, he was the vicar of Southam, Warwickshire, and has also been the bishop of Durham. He is known for exploring the evangelical tradition within Anglicanism in his theology. He worked in the oil industry before his ordination. 

 10 
George Fox
(Author)
George Fox
3
Birthdate: 1624
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire, England
Died: January 13, 1691

Born to a weaver, George Fox had little formal education and left home at 18, in pursuit of some religious experience. The English missionary later founded the Society of Friends, or Quakers, which is a Protestant branch. He was married to Margaret Fell, known widely as "the mother of Quakerism."

 11 
John Sentamu
(Politician, Priest, Cleric)
John Sentamu
3
Birthdate: June 10, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kampala

Born in Uganda, John Sentamu was a Supreme Court lawyer in his country before he fled to the U.K., having faced jail for criticizing President Idi Amin. He later devoted himself to theology and became the Archbishop of York, thus also becoming first black Archbishop of Britain.

 12 
Augustine of Canterbury
(Archbishop of Canterbury)
Augustine of Canterbury
3
Birthplace: Rome
Died: May 26, 0604

Saint Augustine of Canterbury, or Austin, had been the archbishop of Canterbury and established the Christian church in southern England. Probably born in Rome, he later set out on a voyage to England to convert its largely Pagan population. He baptized many of King Aethelberht’s subjects.

 13 
Saint Alban
(Martyr)
Saint Alban
3
Birthplace: Verulamium, England
Died: 0304 AD

Saint Alban was a Roman army soldier who had offered shelter to a fugitive priest, who converted him to Christianity. It is believed he had exchanged clothes with the priest and was thus beheaded and martyred in his place. He is the patron saint of refugees, torture victims, and converts.

 14 
Stephen Langton
(Cardinal)
Stephen Langton
3
Birthdate: 1150 AD
Birthplace: Lincolnshire, England
Died: July 9, 1228

Born to the lord of a Lincolnshire manor, Stephen Langton became a well-known scholar of theology in Paris. His election as the archbishop of Canterbury led to a major conflict between the Church and the royalty, eventually leading to the signing of the Magna Carta.

 15 
Matthew Henry
3
Birthdate: October 18, 1662
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Flintshire, Wales
Died: June 22, 1714

Born in Wales, to a Church of England cleric who had been ejected by the Act of Uniformity, Matthew Henry grew up to be a Nonconformist minister. He is best remembered for his iconic work Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, a six-volume commentary on the Bible.

 16 
Hugh Latimer
(Bishop)
Hugh Latimer
3
Birthdate: 1487 AD
Birthplace: Thurcaston, Leicestershire, England
Died: October 16, 1555

Born to a yeoman farmer, Hugh Latimer later studied at the University of Cambridge and became a Roman Catholic preacher. However, he later converted to Protestantism and became a major figure of the Reformation in England. He was burned at the stake after Mary Tudor took over the throne.

 17 
Chad of Mercia
3
Birthdate: 0634 AD
Birthplace: Northumbria, England
Died: March 2, 0672

Chad of Mercia was an Anglo-Saxon churchman who, according to Saint Bede, is credited with bringing Christianity to the Mercian kingdom. After his death, Chad was venerated as a saint and continues to be venerated in several churches, such as the Anglican churches, the Roman Catholic, and the Celtic Orthodox Church.

 18 
Mary Slessor
(Missionary)
Mary Slessor
4
Birthdate: December 2, 1848
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Aberdeen
Died: January 13, 1915

Born into a Scottish working-class family, Mary Slessor had grown up in the slums of Dundee and had initially been a mill worker. She later went to Nigeria as a Presbyterian missionary. She fought against the Nigerian custom of killing twins and later became the first female British Magistrate.

 19 
Hilda of Whitby
3
Birthdate: 0614 AD
Birthplace: Northumbria, England
Died: 0680 AD

Saint Hilda of Whitby is remembered as the founder of the Streaneshalch Abbey, or Whitby Abbey. She was one of the most significant abbesses of her time and played a major role in the Christianization of Anglo-Saxon England. She is revered as the patron saint of learning and culture.

 20 
Charles Studd
(Cricketer, Author, Missionary)
Charles Studd
3
Birthdate: December 2, 1860
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Spratton
Died: July 16, 1931

Charles Studd was a British missionary and professional cricket player. He is credited with establishing the Heart of Africa Mission, which is now referred to as WEC International. As a cricketer, Charles Studd is remembered for playing in the 1882 match against Australia, which paved the way for the famous Ashes Test cricket series.

 21 
George Carey
(Politician, Priest, University teacher)
George Carey
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London

After quitting school at 15, George Carey had been a Royal Air Force radio operator for a while. He supported the ordination of women and same-sex marriages. He was later made a life peer, as Baron Carey of Clifton, though he faced criticism for covering up sex abuse allegations.

 22 
Thomas Hooker
(British Colonial Leader and Congregational Minister)
Thomas Hooker
3
Birthdate: July 5, 1586
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Marefield, Leicestershire, England
Died: July 7, 1647

Thomas Hooker was an English colonial leader. Hooker is credited with founding the Colony of Connecticut and is hence referred to as the Father of Connecticut. Thomas Hooker, who played a major role in the development of colonial New England, was one of the founders of the state of Connecticut as well as the city of Hartford.   

 23 
Charles Kingsley
3
Birthdate: June 12, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Holne, Devon, England
Died: January 23, 1875

The son of a clergyman, Charles Kingsley later formed the Christian Socialist movement. Remembered for penning children’s fiction such as The Water-Babies, he had also written socially relevant and historical novels. He had also been a professor at the University of Cambridge and a private tutor of Edward VII.

 24 
Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
(Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster)
Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1932
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Reading, Berkshire, England
Died: September 1, 2017

Cormac Murphy-O'Connor was a British Archbishop of Westminster and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He made headlines when he was serving as the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton; he was subjected to public scrutiny when a priest in his diocese was accused of sexually abusing children.

 25 
Samuel Wilberforce
3
Birthdate: September 7, 1805
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Clapham Common, London, England
Died: July 19, 1873

The son of anti-slavery icon William Wilberforce, Anglican priest Samuel Wilberforce served as the bishop of Oxford. He earned the nickname Soapy Sam, probably due to his clean private life or his peculiar manner of hand-washing. A major figure of the Oxford Movement, he opposed Darwin’s theory of evolution.

 26 
Odo of Bayeux
(Noblemen)
Odo of Bayeux
4
Birthdate: 1035 AD
Birthplace: Normandy, France
Died: January 31, 1097

Half-brother of William the Conqueror, Odo of Bayeux had served as the Earl of Kent and the Bishop of Bayeu. He was part of the Norman invasion of England and the Battle of Hastings. He had also joined the First Crusade but died on the way to Palestine, at Palermo.

 27 
John Smyth
(British Baptist Minister and Theologian)
John Smyth
3
Birthdate: 1554 AD
Birthplace: Nottinghamshire, England
Died: August 28, 1612

Also known as the "Se-baptist," or "self-baptizer," John Smyth is considered the pioneer of the Baptist faith in England. Initially a city preacher in Lincoln, he later joined a group of separatists who believed in believer’s baptism, as opposed to infant baptism, and thus formed the branch of Baptist Christianity.

 28 
Donald Coggan
(Archbishop of Canterbury)
Donald Coggan
2
Birthdate: October 9, 1909
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 17, 2000

Apart from being the Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan had also been the Bishop of Bradford and the Archbishop of York. An academic, too, he taught at several universities. Progressive in his views, he supported the admission of women priests. He was made a life peer.

 29 
Ælfric of Eynsham
2
Birthdate: 0955 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: 1010 AD

A student of Æthelwold of Winchester, Ælfric of Eynsham was an Anglo Saxon monk and writer, best known for his works Catholic Homilies and Lives of the Saints. A pioneer of Latin grammar, he earned the nickname Alfricus Grammaticus, and was also known as Ælfric the Homilist and Ælfric of Cerne.

 30 
Basil Hume
(English Catholic Bishop)
Basil Hume
2
Birthdate: March 2, 1923
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Died: June 17, 1999

Born George Hume, Basil Hume changed his name after becoming a priest. He is known for his 13-year stint at the Benedictine monastery of Ampleforth Abbey and had also been the Archbishop of Westminster and a cardinal. He was also a huge fan of Newcastle United F.C.

 31 
Rowland Hill
(British Teacher, Inventor and Social Reformer Best Known for Instigating Postal Reform)
Rowland Hill
3
Birthdate: December 3, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England
Died: August 27, 1879

Born to a schoolmaster, Rowland Hill followed in his father’s footsteps to become a teacher and explored subjects such as astronomy and math. He is, however, best remembered for his reform of the postal system, including increasing the speed of letter transfer and introducing the prototype of the postage stamp.  

 32 
Trevor Huddleston
2
Birthdate: June 15, 1913
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bedford, England
Died: April 20, 1998

Trevor Huddleston was an Anglican bishop who served as the second Archbishop of the Indian Ocean from 1978 to 1983. He is best remembered for fighting against the apartheid laws in South Africa. During his stay in South Africa, Trevor Huddleston was much-loved and respected. He is credited with changing many lives in South Africa including that of Hugh Masekela.     

 33 
John Lydgate
2
Birthdate: 1370 AD
Birthplace: Suffolk, England
Died: 1451 AD

John Lydgate was a poet and monk best remembered for his poem, Troy Book. A prolific writer of romances, fables, allegories, and poems, Lydgate is credited with exploring and popularizing almost every major Chaucerian genre. He also served as a subdeacon after he was ordained in 1389.

 34 
William Warham
(Archbishop of Canterbury)
William Warham
2
Birthdate: 1450 AD
Birthplace: Hampshire, England
Died: August 22, 1532

William Warham served as the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1503 until his death in 1532. A gifted diplomatist, Warham proved to be useful in the court of Henry VII; he played a pivotal role in arranging the marriage between Catherine of Aragon and Henry's son, Arthur Tudor. He also presided over the wedding of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII.

 35 
Lancelot Andrewes
(priest, translator, theologian, Bible translator)
Lancelot Andrewes
2
Birthdate: July 16, 1555
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London
Died: September 25, 1626

Lancelot Andrewes was a scholar and bishop who played an important role during the reigns of James I and Elizabeth I, serving prominent positions in the Church of England. During James I's reign, he not only served as the Bishop of Chichester, Ely, and Winchester but also supervised the translation of the Authorized Version, the English translation of the Bible. 

 36 
John Morton
(Archbishop of Canterbury)
John Morton
2
Birthdate: 1420 AD
Birthplace: Bere Regis, England
Died: October 15, 1500

John Morton was an English prelate best remembered for serving as the Archbishop of Canterbury. He also served as the Lord Chancellor of England during the reign of King Henry VII. In a 1972 TV series titled The Shadow of the Tower, which depicted the life and reign of King Henry VII, Morton was portrayed by British actor Denis Carey.

Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon
2
Birthdate: August 24, 1707
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Leicestershire, England
Died: June 17, 1791

Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon was an English religious leader. She played an important role in the Methodist movement in Wales and England and in the Christian revivalism of the 18th century. She is credited with establishing an evangelical branch in Sierra Leone and England, which is now referred to as the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion.

 38 
Richard Mather
(Minister)
Richard Mather
2
Birthdate: 1596 AD
Birthplace: Lowton, England
Died: April 22, 1669

Richard Mather was a Puritan minister in colonial Boston in the 17th-century. He began his career as a school teacher and later became a minister. He soon gained fame as a preacher and traveled to many places to preach. He was a leader of New England Congregationalism and a co-author of the Bay Psalm Book. 

 39 
Jonathan Sacks
(Rabbi, Politician)
Jonathan Sacks
1
Birthdate: March 8, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London

Born to Jewish merchant parents and educated at prestigious universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, Jonathan Sacks had a PhD in philosophy. The Templeton Prize-winning philosopher and Orthodox rabbi was also a distinguished academic and had been knighted. He is best known for promoting principles of ethics.

 40 
Edmund Bonner
2
Birthdate: 1500 AD
Birthplace: Hanley, England
Died: September 5, 1569

Edmund Bonner served as the Bishop of London. Dubbed Bloody Bonner, Edmund played an important role in the oppression of heretics under the government of Mary I of England. Under the leadership of Elizabeth I, who succeeded Mary I of England, Edmund Bonner was sent to the Marshalsea prison where he breathed his last in 1569.

 41 
Edward White Benson
(Archbishop of Canterbury)
Edward White Benson
2
Birthdate: July 14, 1829
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Highgate, Birmingham, England
Died: October 11, 1896

Edward White Benson served as the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1883 to 1896. From 1877 to 1883, he served as the Bishop of Truro and oversaw the construction of Truro Cathedral. Benson is also credited with establishing the Church of England Purity Society. 

 42 
William de Longchamp
(chancellor of England)
William de Longchamp
2
Birthplace: England
Died: January 31, 1197

William de Longchamp was named the chancellor of England and the bishop of Ely when Richard I became the king of England. When Richard was away during the Third Crusade, William virtually governed England. Though forced to flee by Richard’s brother, John, William was reinstated by Richard upon his return.

 43 
Hubert Walter
(Adviser)
Hubert Walter
2
Birthdate: 1160 AD
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: July 13, 1205
Hubert Walter was a British royal adviser, serving important and influential positions such as the Lord Chancellor, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Chief Justiciar of England during the late-12th and early-13th centuries. He was an influential member in the court of King Henry II of England, helping the king in financial administration as well as judicial and diplomatic efforts. 
 44 
James Nayler
(Religious Leader)
James Nayler
2
Birthdate: 1618 AD
Birthplace: Ardsley, Barnsley, England
Died: September 30, 1660

James Nayler was a Quaker leader and an important member of a group of early Quaker missionaries and preachers known as the Valiant Sixty. Nayler is best remembered for preaching against the slave trade and enclosure. James Nayler achieved national notoriety in 1656 when he re-enacted Jesus Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, for which he was charged with blasphemy.

 45 
Richard Foxe
(Churchman)
Richard Foxe
2
Birthdate: 1448 AD
Birthplace: Ropsley, England
Died: October 5, 1528

Richard Foxe was an English churchman who served as the Bishop of Exeter, Durham, and Winchester. He is credited with establishing the prestigious Corpus Christi College, Oxford. A close associate of Henry Tudor, Richard Foxe played an important role in carrying out the Peace of Etaples between Henry VII Tudor and Charles VIII Valois of France.

 46 
Robert Barnes
2
Birthdate: 1495 AD
Birthplace: Lynn, England
Died: July 30, 1540

Robert Barnes was an English reformer who is believed to have played a major role in having the English Catholics and Protestants understand the English Reformation around them. He was accused of preaching a heterodox sermon and was subsequently condemned to abjure. Today, he is regarded as a martyr.

 47 
Edmund Grindal
(Archbishop of Canterbury)
Edmund Grindal
2
Birthdate: 1519 AD
Birthplace: Saint Bees, England
Died: July 6, 1583
 48 
Wulfstan
(Former Bishop of Worcester)
Wulfstan
1
Birthdate: 1008 AD
Birthplace: Long Itchington, Warwickshire, England
Died: January 20, 1095

Saint Wulfstan, or Wulstan, who had been the bishop of Worcester, was the only surviving English bishop after the Norman Conquest. Apart from ending slave trade in Bristol, he also compiled Domesday Book. He is revered as the patron saint of vegetarians and of those on a diet.

 49 
William Lee
(Inventor)
William Lee
2
Birthdate: 1563 AD
Birthplace: Calverton, England
Died: 1614 AD

William Lee was an English inventor and clergyman who is credited with inventing the stocking frame knitting machine. Denied patent by Queen Elizabeth I, who was concerned about her hand knitters' employment security, Lee moved to France where he was granted a patent by Henry IV of France.

 50 
Thomas de Cantilupe
1
Birthdate: 1218 AD
Birthplace: Hambleton, England
Died: August 25, 1282

The son of a feudal baron, Thomas de Cantilupe was educated at Oxford, Orléans, and Paris, and later taught canon law. He also served as the chancellor of England and the bishop of Hereford. In the Second Barons' War, he was the barons’ representative before King Louis IX of France.