Addressing the Clergy

From Crockford's Clerical Directory:

 

How to address the clergy

In offering the advice below, we do not intend to imply that other practices are necessarily to be discouraged (for example, the use of Father as in 'Father Smith'). A good deal depends on circumstances, and, where a personal preference is known, it is usually good practice to follow it.

The following notes show acceptable current usage

  1. on an envelope or formal listing
  2. in starting a social letter or in speech, and
  3. when referring to a member of the clergy

Category (a) is not open to much variation, owing to the formality of the context, but categories (b) and (c) will often vary according to circumstances. It is always acceptable to use the appropriate Christian name in place of initials (for example, the Revd Alice Smith). In the absence of any style or title conferred by a post, all deacons and priests are styled 'The Reverend', and all who have been consecrated bishop are styled 'The Right Reverend'.

Definitions for many of the specialist terms used below (such as Prebendary and Suffragan bishop) can be found in the Glossary of key terms.

Deacons and Priests

  1. The Reverend A B Smith
  2. Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith (unless it is known that some other style is preferred--the title Vicar or Rector is acceptable only if the person so addressed really is the incumbent of the parish where you live or worship)
  3. The Reverend A B Smith at the first mention, and Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith thereafter

Notes

  1. The form 'Reverend Smith' or 'The Reverend Smith' should never be used this side of the Atlantic. If the Christian name or initials are not known, the correct forms are

    1. The Reverend - Smith, or The Reverend Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith
    2. Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith
    3. The Reverend Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith at the first mention, and Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith thereafter
  2. There is no universally accepted way of addressing an envelope to a married couple of whom both are in holy orders. We recommend the style 'The Reverend A B and the Reverend C D Smith'.

Prebendaries

  1. The Reverend Prebendary A B Smith
  2. Prebendary Smith
  3. Prebendary Smith

Canons (both Residentiary and Honorary)

  1. The Reverend Canon A B Smith
  2. Canon Smith
  3. Canon Smith

Archdeacons

  1. The Venerable the Archdeacon of X
  2. Archdeacon, or more formally Mr/Madam Archdeacon
  3. The Archdeacon of X at the first mention, and the Archdeacon thereafter

Notes

  1. In the case of an archdeacon (or dean/provost, bishop, or archbishop) in office, the style above is to be preferred. The personal name should be used only for the purpose of identification.
  2. For an archdeacon emeritus, the correct forms are
    1. The Venerable A B Smith
    2. Archdeacon
    3. Archdeacon Smith

Deans and Provosts

  1. The Very Reverend the Dean/Provost of X
  2. Dean/Provost, or more formally Mr/Madam Dean/Provost
  3. The Dean/Provost of X at the first mention, and the Dean thereafter (see also note 1 in the Archdeacons section above)

Bishops, Diocesan and Suffragan

  1. The Right Reverend the Bishop of X, or The Right Reverend the Lord/Lady Bishop of X
  2. Bishop, or more formally My Lord/Lady
  3. The Bishop of X at the first mention, and the Bishop thereafter (see also note 1 in the Archdeacons section above)

Notes

  1. It is a matter of individual preference whether the title 'Lord'/'Lady' should be used.
  2. The Bishop of London is a Privy Councillor, and has the style 'The Right Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Bishop of London'.
  3. The Bishop of Meath and Kildare is styled 'The Most Reverend'.

Assistant and Retired Bishops

  1. The Right Reverend A B Smith
  2. Bishop
  3. Bishop Smith

Archbishops

  1. The Most Reverend the Lord Archbishop of X
  2. Archbishop, or more formally Your Grace
  3. (His Grace) the Archbishop of X at the first mention, and the Archbishop thereafter (see also note 1 in the Archdeacons section above)

Notes

  1. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, being Privy Councillors, also have 'Right Honourable' included in their style (for example, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury).
  2. The presiding bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Church is the Primus, and the correct forms are
    1. The Most Reverend the Primus
    2. Primus
    3. Primus
  3. A retired archbishop properly reverts to the status of bishop, but may be given as a courtesy the style of an archbishop.

Chaplains to the Armed Services

  1. The Reverend A B Smith RN (or CF or RAF)
  2. Padre, or Padre Smith
  3. The Padre, or Padre Smith

Titled Clerics

Where a member of the clergy also holds a temporal title, this is always preceded in writing by the ecclesiastical one.

 

Barons (other than retired archbishops)

  1. The Reverend the Lord Smith of X
  2. Lord Smith
  3. The Reverend the Lord Smith at the first mention, and Lord Smith thereafter

 

Baronets

  1. The Reverend Sir Alan Smith Bt
  2. Sir Alan Smith or Sir Alan
  3. The Reverend Sir Alan Smith at the first mention, and Sir Alan thereafter

 

Knights

An ordained priest may be appointed to an order of knighthood, but will not normally receive the accolade or title. The appropriate designation will follow the name or ecclesiastical title, e.g. The Right Reverend the Bishop of X, KCVO. If he was knighted before he was ordained, he will retain his title, and will be addressed in much the same manner as a baronet.

 

Dames

  1. The Reverend Dame Alice Smith
  2. Dame Alice Smith or Dame Alice
  3. The Reverend Dame Alice Smith at the first mention, and Dame Alice thereafter

 

Wives of Barons, Baronets and Knights

  1. The Reverend Lady Smith (of X)
  2. Lady Smith
  3. The Reverend Lady Smith at the first mention, and Lady Smith thereafter

 

Sons and daughters of peers

  1. The Reverend the Honourable Jocelyn Smith, or The Reverend Lord/Lady Jocelyn Smith (as appropriate)
  2. Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith, or Lord/Lady Jocelyn Smith
  3. The Reverend J K Smith at the first mention, and Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms Smith thereafter; or the Reverend Lord/Lady Jocelyn Smith at the first mention, and Lord/Lady Jocelyn thereafter.

Ordained Members of Religious Orders

  1. The Reverend Alan/Alice Smith XYZ; The Reverend Brother Alan/Sister Alice XYZ
  2. Father, Father Smith, or Father Alan; Mother, Mother Smith, or Mother Alice; Brother Alan/Sister Alice
  3. The Reverend Alan/Alice Smith; Father Alan Smith; Mother Alice Smith; Father Smith; Brother Alan/Sister Alice

Academics

When a member of the clergy holds more than one title, the ecclesiastical one is normally used.

 

Professor also Canon

  1. The Reverend Canon A B Smith
  2. Canon Smith, or Professor Smith, according to context
  3. Canon Smith, or Professor Smith, according to context

 

Canon also Doctor

  1. The Reverend Canon A B Smith (degree)
  2. Canon Smith, or Dr Smith, according to context
  3. Canon Smith, or Dr Smith, according to context

Abbreviations

The following abbreviations are in common use

Reverend: Revd or Rev
Father: Fr
Right Reverend: Rt Revd or Rt Rev
Prebendary: Preb
Venerable: Ven

 

 

 

 


Reverend, Right Reverend, Very Reverend, Most Reverend and Venerable, whether abbreviated or not, should always be preceded by the definite article.