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William Wake

1657-1737. Archbishop of Canterbury from 1717. Educated at Oxford, he became chaplain to Lord Preston, the English ambassador to France, and went to Paris in 1682. He attained prominence through theological dialogues with Bossuet,* and met Gallicanism* which advocated the independence of the Roman Catholic Church in France from papal authority. On his return to England in 1685, he became successively preacher at Gray's Inn, rector of St. James, Westminster, dean of Exeter (1703), and bishop of Lincoln (1705) before going to Canterbury. In 1693 he published an English Version of the Genuine Epistles of the Apostolical Fathers, and in 1700 The Principles of the Christian Religion (commenting on the Catechism). In the convocation controversy he wrote The Authority of Christian Princes over their Ecclesiastical Synods Asserted (1697) and The State of the Church and Clergy of England in their Convocations (1703) in answer to Francis Atterbury's Rights and Privileges of an English Convocation. The archbishopric was a reward for his support of the Whigs and the Protestant succession during Anne's reign, but he opposed the government's bill to repeal the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts in 1718. He engaged in discussions (1717-20) with French ecclesiastics on a projected union between the Anglican and Gallican churches, but these ended without result after the death of Louis Ellies du Pin. Wake regarded the Church of England as a via media between Rome and Geneva, but recommended changes in the Prayer Book to meet the scruples of Nonconformists.

See J.H. Lupton, Archbishop Wake and the Project of Union (1717-20) (1896); and N. Sykes, William Wake, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1657-1737 (1957).