Her Majesty’s Boxing Day present to Archbishop Williams

On Boxing Day, Her Majesty the Queen conferred a peerage on the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

From the official site of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Peerage for the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury
Wednesday 26th December 2012

The Queen has been pleased to confer a Peerage of the United Kingdom for Life on the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams Lord Archbishop of Canterbury upon his retirement from the See of Canterbury.

Rowan Williams will be created a Baron for Life by the style and title of Baron Williams of Oystermouth in the City and County of Swansea.


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  1. Jeannie_C says:

    For those readers not up on the peerage, the title is only for the life of the individual, and may not be inherited by any children, although they may use the courtesy titles associated with the title, as does a wife. He will have the right (assuming he was given a writ of summons) to sit in the House of Lords.
    Women may be given a life baronetcy, and sit in the house, but their husbands do not obtain any rank or precedence.
    Life baronies under the Life Peerages Act are created by the Sovereign but, in practice, none are granted except upon the proposition of the Prime Minister. As a result of the large number of life barons created by Tony Blair during his administration, the current number of life barons and life baronesses (approx 637) outnumber the hereditary barons and baronesses (approx 455).

  2. mamajen says:

    Oystermouth…I like it.

  3. Clinton says:

    If I understand properly, a peer signs his name using only the name of his title– so in future
    His Grace will be signing documents “Oystermouth”.

    Mamajen, I like it too.

  4. Stumbler but trying says:

    An interesting name for him. What I hope for is to be granted an audience with the Eternal Son by His mother, the Queen of Heaven and for “eternal life,” too. Blessings to all. ^^)

  5. Geoffrey says:

    I cannot stand “life peerages”. Bring back hereditary peerages!

  6. jbas says:

    Perhaps now that he represents himself rather than his diocese in the House of Lord’s, he’ll introduce legislation to give us back our churches and monasteries.

  7. jbas says:

    I agree. What’s the fun in this? It’s like the difference between helium-filled and merely air-filled balloons at a party.

  8. disco says:

    That’s something of a departure from convention, right? Isn’t a retiring Archbishop of Canterbury normally styled “Baron Lambeth” after his erstwhile official residence?

  9. Elizabeth D says:

    Oystermouth? That’s not exactly “Chrysostom” is it?

  10. Jeannie_C says:

    would you be thinking of Geoffrey Fisher?
    Fisher was made a life peer, with the title Baron Fisher of Lambeth, of Lambeth in the County of London (Lambeth being a reference to Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury). By this time appointment to the House of Lords as a peer had become a convention for retiring Archbishops of Canterbury (none had ever retired before Randall Thomas Davidson in 1928), although Fisher was the first to be created a life peer following the Life Peerages Act 1958.
    Usually in the Anglican world, an archbishop “descends” to a bishop on retirement.

  11. jhayes says:

    Oystermouth was as close as the English could come to pronouncing Ystum Llwynarth, a castle near Swansea in Wales, where Rowan Williams grew up. It doesn’t have anything to do with oysters.

  12. Will Elliott says:

    All jokes aside, his title is “Williams of Oystermouth”, not “Oystermouth”.

    Per disco‘s question: Archbishop Fisher was named Baron Fisher of Lambeth, his successor became Baron Ramsey of Canterbury, whose successor simply became Baron Runcie.

  13. amenamen says:

    What would Thomas a Becket say about this?

    Both from a Catholic theological perspective, and from a secular perspective, one could argue that becoming a “baron” is a promotion for Rowan Williams. Of what value are Anglican orders? (Absolutely null and utterly void). What actual authority does the Archbishop of Canterbury (the successor of Thomas Cranmer, appointed by the queen) excercise, even over other Anglicans?

  14. Random Friar says:

    @jhayes: Thank you for that etymology! I admit I found myself scratching my head.

    We have similar things in our own faith. “Guadalupe” was as close as the Spanish could get to the name the Virgin gave to St. Juan Diego, sounding very similar to the place name in Spain. Nahuatl is a tongue-twisting language to Euro-ears!

  15. amenamen says:

    The Welsh call it “Ystum Llwynarth”, and the English pronounce it “Oystermouth”. But if you look on the map, it is just a short walk from “Mumbles.”

  16. VexillaRegis says:

    Lord Oysterlips would have been worse, but Oystermouth also sounds like a joke. The English, however, have a tradition of funny (but really old) surnames, though: Drinkwater, Gotobed and Silliman, just to name a few.

  17. Jim says:

    VexillaRegis – you are making observations about funny names on a site run by Zuhls dorf?

    At least the Engish Cardinal wasn’t allowed to become a Lord

  18. asperges says:

    Given that in the same honours list, Mr Wiggins, cyclist and winner of the Tour de France (no doubt to the annoyance of the French) has been made a knight, a peerage for Dr Williamson seems rather over-generous, given the chaos he has left behind.

  19. asperges says:

    Apologies, ‘Williamson’ should read ‘Williams’ of course. Freudian slip.

  20. VexillaRegis says:

    @Jim: 1: Haha and 2: God is merciful. :-)

  21. edm says:

    I don’t quite understand how a news article about a retiring Archbishop of Canterbury and the granting of a title by the Queen, and the unsual sounding name (to American ears) should result in a comment about Anglican orders. In some circles it seems to be “same old/ same old”.

  22. When one considers what oysters typically eat, it seems appropriate.

  23. sirlouis says:

    It should be noted that boxing day is the traditional day for giving gifts to servants below stairs. Lackeys and that sort.

  24. Simon_GNR says:

    Jeannie_C: Usually in the Anglican world, an archbishop “descends” to a bishop on retirement.

    Yes, this is true. After Michael Ramsey retired as Archbishop of Canterbury he was known as “Bishop Michael Ramsey”, “Bishop Ramsey” or “Lord Ramsey”, “Archbishop” being a title that went with the post of AB of C. Once ones leaves the post, the title goes with it, but one remains “Bishop so-and-so” by virtue of having been consecrated/ordained bishop, not by holding any particular bishopric or archbishopric.

  25. VexillaRegis says:

    I feel sorry for RW’s wife – Lady Oystermouth…

  26. AnAmericanMother says:


    Sounds like Margarethe “Maultasch”, the original for the Ugly Duchess in Alice.

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