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Geoffrey Clayton (bishop)

The Most Rev Geoffrey Hare Clayton, DD was an eminent Anglican Priest[1] in the mid Twentieth century.

He was born on 12 December 1884,[2] educated at Rugby and Pembroke College, Cambridge, and ordained, after a period of study at Ripon College Cuddesdon, in 1909.[3] A Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge,[4] he was its Dean from 1910 to 1914 when he became a Chaplain to the BEF. When peace returned he was Vicar of St Mary’s the Less, Cambridge[5] and after that (successively) Vicar, Rural Dean and finally Archdeacon of Chesterfield.[6] In 1934 he became Bishop of Johannesburg[7] and served for 14 years before his appointment as Archbishop of Cape Town. A Sub-Prelate of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, he died on 7 March 1957.[8]

Apartheid and the Archbishop

On Ash Wednesday 1957, the day before he died, Archbishop Clayton signed, on behalf of the Bishops of the Church of the Province of South Africa, a letter to the Prime Minister of South Africa, refusing to obey and refusing to counsel the people of the Anglican Church in South Africa to obey, the provisions of section 29(c) of the Native Laws Amendment Act. The Act sought to force apartheid in all Christian congregations. "We should ourselves be unable to obey this Law or to counsel our clergy and people to do so. We therefore appeal to you, Sir, not to put us in a position in which we have to choose between obeying our conscience and obeying the law of the land."[1][9]


  1. ^ a b Alan Paton (1974). Apartheid and the Archbishop: The Life and Times of Geoffrey Clayton, Archbishop of Cape Town. Scribner.  
  2. ^ Who's Who 2008. A&C Black. 10 December 2007.  
  3. ^ Oxford University Press (1976). Crockford's Clerical Directory: A Reference Book of the Clergy of the Provinces of Canterbury and York and of Other Anglican Provinces and Dioceses. Oxford University Press.  
  4. ^ University Intelligence, The Times, Friday, 30 October 1908; p. 13; Issue 38791; col B
  5. ^ Parish web site
  6. ^ Chesterfield brasses
  7. ^ See Of Johannesburg Archdeacon Of Chesterfield Elected Bishop The Times Friday, 8 December 1933; p. 14; Issue 46622; col B
  8. ^ Archbishop Of Cape Town Scholar And Christian Gentleman The Times Friday, 8 March 1957; p. 13; Issue 53784; col D
  9. ^ by Edgar BrookesApartheid and the ArchbishopReview of Paton's
Anglican Church of Southern Africa titles
Preceded by
Arthur Baillie Lumsdaine Karney
Bishop of Johannesburg
1934 – 1948
Succeeded by
Richard Ambrose Reeves
Preceded by
John Russell Darbyshire
Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
1948 – 1957
Succeeded by
Joost de Blank

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