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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Cambridge alumnus and a qualified lawyer, Walter Hilton later came to be known as one of the greatest 14th-century Augustinian mystics. He is best remembered for his two-volume devotional classic The Scale of Perfection. His other works include The Mixed Life and a few Latin letters.
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.