Randall Thomas Davidson

1848-1930. Archbishop of Canterbury, 1903-28. The son of Scottish Presbyterians, Davidson was educated at Harrow and Oxford, was ordained priest in the Church of England, and rose rapidly to become dean of Windsor (1883), bishop of Rochester (1891), and bishop of Winchester (1895) before going to Canterbury. In the primacy Davidson presided over his church at a particularly difficult time. An administrator rather than a spiritual leader, he strove for compromise, though on some issues-especially the Balfour Education Bill and Welsh Disestablishment-his Anglicanism was unbending. In social matters his attempts to mitigate the horrors of war and of the ensuing industrial depression were widely approved, as were his ecumenical endeavors, the Lambeth Quadrilateral and the Malines Conversations, gestures respectively to the Free Churches and the Roman Catholics, and both fruitless. Evangelicals were not happy under his archiepiscopate, convinced that his concern for moderation and comprehension was a cloak for the advancement of ritualists or advanced liberals like Hensley Henson. Davidson promoted no evangelicals, on the grounds that they had no outstanding men, and confirmed their worst fears when he lent his weight to the new Prayer Book, rejected by Parliament to his disgust in 1928. He retired the same year. His writings include a biography of Archbishop Tait (2 vols., 1891).

See G.K.A. Bell, Randall Davidson (2 vols., 1935).