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Davidson, Randall

Davidson, Randall (1848–1930). Archbishop of Canterbury. Born a Scottish presbyterian in Edinburgh and educated at Trinity College, Oxford, Davidson was successively chaplain to Archbishops Tait (1877) and Benson, dean of Windsor (1883), bishop of Rochester (1891) and Winchester (1895), and archbishop (1903–28). An ecclesiastical policy-maker for over 50 years (1877–1928), he was close confidant of two archbishops (1877–95) and an intimate of Queen Victoria, whose death he attended. As a national leader during 25 years of phenomenal change, he gave the primacy substantial prestige. Frequently plagued by ill-health, conciliatory rather than dynamic, Davidson displayed skill and courage with problems domestic, colonial, and international. The first modern archbishop to visit combatant troops at the front (1916), the first to visit America (1904), he was also a keen House of Lords man where his support assisted the passage of the Parliament Bill (1911). Sometimes insufficiently outspoken, he nevertheless courageously opposed the death sentence for Roger Casement, condemned the Black and Tans, was even-handed in the General Strike, supported the League of Nations, and prevented the patriarch's expulsion from Constantinople. Ecclesiastically he constantly worked to conciliate differing viewpoints. Though the Enabling Act (1919) gave the church some self-government, he resigned after Prayer Book revision failed to gain parliamentary approval.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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