William Anderson (bishop of Salisbury)

For other people of a similar name, see William Anderson.

William Louis Anderson DSC (11 February 1882 – 5 March 1972) was the Church of England Bishop of Portsmouth and then the Bishop of Salisbury. He also held what is believed to be the unique distinction of being the only bishop to have served in all three of the armed services.[1]

Early life

Anderson was born at Tezpur, Assam, India on 11 February 1892, the younger son of James Drummond Anderson, a lecturer in Bengali at the University of Cambridge. His elder brother, Sir James Drummond Anderson, also had a distinguished colonial career. He was educated as a scholar at St Paul's School and graduated BA from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1914 and MA in 1920. He was appointed an honorary fellow in 1950.[2]

Military service

He served throughout the First World War, initially in the 1st King Edward’s Horse, then the Royal Naval Air Service, and finally in the newly formed Royal Air Force, ending the war with the rank of captain (later flight lieutenant from 1918 to 1919). He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross after sinking an enemy submarine in a flying boat attack while serving in the Scilly Isles.[2]


On demobilisation, he took Holy Orders at Ridley Hall, Cambridge and was ordained deacon in 1920 and priest 1921. He married Gwendoline Jones and together they had two sons.[3] He rejoined the Royal Navy as a chaplain and served in a succession of Royal Naval establishments.His last posting was as chaplain to the Britannia Royal Naval College.

In 1928, he was appointed vicar of Sparkhill, Birmingham, taking on the additional responsibility of rural dean of Bordesley. In 1932, he moved to Eastbourne. By 1937, he was Bishop of Croydon[4] and in late 1941 he was appointed Bishop of Portsmouth to succeed the recently deceased Frank Partridge.[5] In 1949, he transferred to the more senior see of Salisbury,[6] a position he was to hold until his retirement in 1962. His wife died in 1957, and he then married Jessie Hearn in 1963[3] He died on 5 March 1972.


  1. The Times, 7 March 1972; pg. 16; Issue 58420; col F, Rt Rev W. L. Anderson Former Bishop of Salisbury-Obituary
  2. 1 2 Obituary, The Times', 7 March 1972
  3. 1 2 Biography, Who Was Who
  4. "New Bishop of Croydon appointed", The Times', 28 June 1937
  5. "Notice of Appointment: new Bishop of Portsmouth", The Times, 8 December 1941
  6. The Times, 8 April 1949
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Edward Sydney Woods
Bishop of Croydon
1937 1942
Succeeded by
Maurice Harland
Preceded by
Frank Partridge
Bishop of Portsmouth
1942 1949
Succeeded by
William Launcelot Scott Fleming
Preceded by
Neville Lovett
Bishop of Salisbury
1949 1963
Succeeded by
Joseph Fison
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