Who is new Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby?

As a former oil executive turned Anglican bishop, the new archbishop followed an atypical path to leadership of the Church of England.

Dylan Martinez/Reuters
Justin Welby, the bishop of Durham and newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, speaks to the media during a news conference at Lambeth Palace in London today.

As a former student of elite Eton College – just like the current prime minister and generations of other senior figures in British public life – the new Archbishop of Canterbury comes with some impeccable establishment credentials.

While his mother had been Winston Churchill’s private secretary, business is also in the blood: He is the son of a businessman who traded in whiskey during America’s prohibition years and later worked for a company that survived the ban by selling communion wine.

Born in London in 1956, Justin Portal Welby studied law and history at Trinity College, in Cambridge, England, after the initial schooling that made him an "Old Etonian."

A career in the oil industry beckoned and he spent 11 years in the sector as a senior executive, based in Paris and London. He worked on projects in the North Sea and the Niger Delta, gaining a familiarity that would come in useful in later years as a cleric traveling to the West African reaches of the Anglican Communion, Nigeria.

In 1983, his seven-month-old, first-born daughter was killed in a car crash, leading to "a very dark time" for him and his wife. But it also "bought us closer to God," he has said.

He left behind his career in business in 1987 to train an Anglican priest, later telling business magazine Money Marketing "I was unable to get away from a sense of God calling."

He became a deacon in 1992 after taking a degree in theology, serving later as a curate in the Coventry diocese and was made a rector in 1995 before being made a canon at Coventry Cathedral in 2002.

At Coventry, he was involved in international conflict resolution before becoming dean of Liverpool in 2007. He was elevated to the fourth most senior post in the Church of England in November 2011, when he became the bishop of Durham.

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