Archbishop's ancestor is Lord Edward FitzGerald


The new Archbishop Of Canterbury Justin Welby, who was confirmed as archbishop at St Paul’s Cathedral in London yesterday, has Irish connections that go back to the 1798 leader Lord Edward FitzGerald. Church of Ireland historian Canon Patrick Comerford has established that Archbishop Welby’s mother, Jane Gillian Portal, is descended from the Napier family in Kildare, whose ancestral home was Celbridge House. It is now Oakley Park, part of a special needs school. Celbridge House became home to the Napier family in 1785.

Canon Comerford, who lectures at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and is an adjunct visiting professor at Trinity College Dublin, said he had found “that the archbishop’s maternal grandmother was Rose Leslie Napier”.

He recalled how Sir Charles James Napier, who played a role in the Greek war of independence, was a first cousin of Lord Edward FitzGerald.

He wondered whether Rose Leslie Napier was descended from the same family. His research found that “Archbishop Welby is a direct descendant of Lady Sarah [Napier] Lennox”, a sister of Lady Emily Lennox, duchess of Leinster and mother of Lord Edward FitzGerald.

His story of Archbishop Welby’s Irish roots appears in the current edition of Church Review, diocesan magazine of Dublin and Glendalough.