The Church of England: General Notes

The Lords Spiritual

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester, and twenty-one other English Diocesan Bishops in order of seniority of consecration constitute the Lords Spiritual in Parliament. The Bishop of Sodor and Man has an honorary seat in the House of Lords but he is a member of the House of Keys, Isle of Man.

Retired Officers of the Armed Forces

Retired officers of the Armed Forces who enter Holy Orders in any Church within the UK are not addressed by their Service rank, either in the body of the letter or on the envelope, but this practice is customary in Australia and Canada.

When one wishes to show that a clergyman has served in the Armed Forces - in a list of retired officers, for example - the form 'The Rev John Smith, Commander, RN' is used.


Ordained clergyman of the Church of England, and other Churches within the Anglican Communion, do not receive the accolade of knighthood, although letters signifying an order of knighthood are placed after the name, e.g. The Rt Rev the Lord Bishop of Brompton, KCVO.

The wife of a priest so honoured is not styled or addressed "Lady", unless of course she is already entitled to such designation in her own right.

Note: In the Roman Catholic Church clergy do, however, use the title Sir if they are appointed to an Order of Knighthood, e.g. the former Archbishop of Sydney was known as His Eminence Sir Norman Cardinal Gilroy, KBE.

If a clergyman succeeds to a title (or has a courtesy title or style), the spiritual title always precedes the temporal one. For example:

The Ven Sir John Jones, Bt
The Rev the Hon John Brown
The Very Rev the Earl of Southend


Doctorate Degrees should be added on the envelope where appropriate.

Female Members of the Priesthood

The canon making it possible for women to be ordained to the priesthood was promulgated in the General Synod in February 1994, and the first 32 women priests were ordained on 12th March 1994. At the present time women priests may not realise the office of Bishop or above.


'The Reverend' is usually abbreviated to 'The Rev', although some clergymen prefer it to be written in full; and other prefer the abbreviation 'The Revd'.



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