Bishops, Diocesan and Suffragan, Church of England and the Church in Wales

The Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester have permanent seats in the House of Lords. When a vacancy arises, it is filled by the senior diocesan bishop without a seat and the vacated See is placed at the foot of the list of those awaiting seats. Translation of a bishop from one See to another does not affect his right to sit in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Sodor and Man is an ex officio member of the Legislative Council of the Isle of Man.

How to Address Bishops, Diocesan and Suffragan

The recommended (social) style of address is as follows:

Beginning of letter Dear Bishop
Envelope The Rt Rev The Lord Bishop of Blank (or The Rt Reverend the Bishop of Blank)
Verbal address Bishop (or My Lord Bishop)
Description in conversation The Bishop of Blank

How to Address Retired Bishops

 

Retired bishops are addressed by their names, but otherwise as for English bishops, ie ‘The Rt Rev Nicholas Swallow’. The recommended style of address in a letter would be: ‘Dear Bishop’, and it should be finished with ‘Yours sincerely’; the envelope is addressed to ‘The Rt Rev Nicholas Swallow’.

In conversation, a retired bishop is addressed as ‘Bishop’ and is referred to as ‘The Bishop of Blankshire’. Any invitation or place card should be addressed to ‘The Rt Rev Nicholas Swallow’, or in the case of married retired bishops, to ‘The Rt Rev Nicholas and Mrs Swallow’.

Retired bishops sign their name after a cross, followed by Bishop.

Suffragan Bishops

In each diocese, suffragan bishops are appointed to assist the bishop, styled by the name of an ancient town or place within the See. There may be a number of suffragans each responsible for a geographical area in the diocese, or one suffragan operating on behalf of the bishop throughout the diocese. While enjoying full episcopal rights, they do not qualify for membership of the House of Lords. It is open to question whether they may use the style of ‘Lord’ Bishop (ie whether the title is ecclesiastical or temporal); the prefix is usually given by custom or courtesy, but they are not so styled in an official document.

SHARE THIS:

Forms Of Address

Debrett's Handbook

Debrett's Handbook

Debrett's Handbook

Debrett's Handbook

Debrett's new publication encompassing correct form, modern manners and everyday behaviour

search now
Debrett's Stationery

Debrett's Stationery

Debrett's Courses

Debrett's Courses

Training & Classes

Training & Classes

Providing the skills and confidence to be welcome and at ease in any professional or social situation.

search now