Addressing the Clergy

Since the Lambeth Conference of 1968, at which styles of address were debated, there has been a trend towards simpler forms of address, Resolution 14 stated: 'The Conference recommends that the bishops, as leaders and representatives of a servant Church, should radically examine the honours paid to them in the course of divine worship, in titles and customary address, and in style of living, while having the necessary facilities for the efficient carrying on of their work'.

Whereas formerly a bishop would have been addressed as 'My Lord' and a dean as 'Mr Dean', it has become more usual to address a bishop in speech as 'Bishop' and a dean as 'Dean'. There is, however, a correct way to address clergy on an envelope, which is normally as follows:

Archbishop of Canterbury or York The Most Revd and Rt Hon the Lord Archbishop of
Archbishop of another Province The Most Revd the Lord Archbishop of
Bishop of London The Rt Revd and Rt Hon the Lord Bishop of
Diocesan / Suffragan Bishop Either The Rt Revd the Lord Bishop of
Or the Rt Revd the Bishop of
Assistant / Retired Bishop The Rt Revd J.D.Smith (or John Smith)
Dean The Very Revd the Dean of
Provost The Very Revd the Provost of
Archdeacon The Ven the Archdeacon of
Canon The Revd Canon J.D.Smith (or John or Jane Smith)
Prebendary The Revd Prebendary J.D.Smith (or John or Jane Smith)
Rural Dean No special form of address (The Revd, the Revd Canon, etc)
Dean of Oxford / Cambridge College No special form of address
Cleric also Professor Either The Revd Professor J.D.Smith
Or Professor the Revd J.D.Smith
Canon also Professor Either The Revd Canon Professor J.D.Smith
Or Professor the Revd Canon J.D.Smith
Cleric also Doctor Either The Revd Dr J.D.Smith
Or The Revd J.D.Smith (degree)
Canon also Doctor The Revd Canon J.D.Smith (degree)
Other Clergy / Priest / Deacon The Revd J.D.Smith (or John or Jane Smith)

The following points should be noted particularly:

  1. A diocesan or suffragan bishop has a title conferred on him by his consecration or subsequent translation, which he is entitled to hold until he resigns. He then reverts to his personal name, retaining the title 'Right Reverend'.
  2. A dean, provost or archdeacon has a territorial title until he resigns. He then reverts to his personal name, and his title is 'Reverend' unless the rank of dean, provost or archdeacon emeritus has been awarded.
  3. Retired archbishops properly go back to the status of a bishop but may be given as a courtesy the style of an archbishop.
  4. A bishop holding office as a dean or archdeacon is addressed as The Rt Revd the Dean / Archdeacon of.
  5. If a cleric's name or initials are unknown, he or she should be addressed as The Revd - Smith or the Revd Mr / Mrs / Miss / Ms Smith. It is never correct to refer to a cleric as 'The Reverend Smith' or 'Revd Smith'.
  6. 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 Revd A.B. and the Revd C.D.Smith'.


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