Coggan, Donald

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Coggan, Donald (1909–2000). Archbishop of Canterbury. Coggan was born in London of a west country family and ultimately Welsh stock. He had a distinguished academic career at Cambridge and at Manchester University, where he taught Semitic languages and literature prior to ordination in 1934. After a brief curacy he returned to academic life, first in Canada, and then, after 1944, in London, where he transformed the moribund theological college of St John's Hall, Highbury, into the thriving London College of Divinity. A first-class scholar and administrator, steeped in the evangelical tradition, Coggan's merits were recognized in 1956 with appointment as bishop of Bradford, and in 1961 as archbishop of York. His translation at the age of 65 to Canterbury came as a surprise to many, but perceptions of him as a stop-gap or caretaker primate quickly faded. Before retirement in 1980 he proved an enthusiastic ecumenist and a prophetic leader, whilst giving the Church of England a period of stability. He was made a life peer, dying at the age of 90.

Revd Dr John R. Guy