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The Welby Chronicles – Part the Fourth

Lay Anglicana Claims World Scoop

The following story appears on page 11 of today’s Jewish Chronicle and is to be syndicated to other papers worldwide.

Ostrich feathers in Bishop’s family
The Jewish Chronicle
23 Nov 2012

THE NEXT Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at last knows the identity of his Jewish paternal relations, hitherto shrouded in mystery. It has emerged that his grandfather Bernard was one of four brothers named Weiler, who came to London from…read more…

This is the text I submitted (more or less the same, but I had deliberately left vague what kind of crash it was, as it might have been ‘the feather crash’ of 1914. Otherwise no complaints about the sub-editor’s tweaks- who knew it should be ‘chief rabbi’ and not ‘Chief Rabbi’?)

“The next Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at last knows the identity of his Jewish paternal relations, hitherto shrouded in mystery. It has been discovered that his grandfather Bernard was one of four Weiler brothers who came to London from Germany in the 1880s and became prosperous ostrich feather merchants. Bernard changed his name to Welby at the outbreak of the first world war, presumably because of anti-German sentiment, but his brothers continued to be known as Weiler.

Bishop Justin is not himself Jewish since his mother was a Gentile, but his father, Gavin, paternal grandparents and their known antecedents  were all part of a nexus of the Jewish haute bourgeoisie moving between London, New York and South Africa, dealing in ostrich feathers and diamonds. The son of the eldest Weiler brother, Siegfried,  married the grand-daughter of Anton Dunkelsbühler, who once employed Ernest Oppenheimer.   Anton’s daughter Fanny married Ernest Josephthal, son of the founder of the New York banking dynasty.

Bernard Weiler/Welby is said to have lost his money in ‘the crash’ and died in 1930. Although aged only nineteen, his son Gavin was put on a boat with £5 in his pocket and sent off to New York to restore the family fortunes. The fact that he did so reasonably successfully suggests that he may have had help on arrival from his Jewish cousins. For the next twenty years he worked in import/export, largely in liquor.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the (first among equals) head of the Anglican Communion, numbering 85 million, as well as Primate of the Church of England. It is hoped that this newly discovered background will help revivify the Anglican Jewish Commission; at the very least it will give him a talking-point next time he meets the Chief Rabbi.”


The rather charming cartoon which illustrates this is, as you can see, by James Whitworth, and remains the copyright of the Jewish Chronicle. Please do not copy without their permission.

I would like to point out that I did not take a fee for this article.

6 comments on this post:

Charley Farns-Barns said...

So Justin’s dad Gavin was in the States in the import/export liquor business, was he? Now prohibition ended in 1933, so was Gavin a bootlegger? And does that mean our Justin have some distant American Mafia connections? I think we should be told!

After all, a small contract with Murder Inc. might come in handy in sorting some of our current General Synod problems, don’t you think? Charley F-B.

Lay Anglicana said...

(Arch)bishop Justin has already described his father as a bootlegger. My point is that he continued to deal in drink long after prohibition was ended…

I think (+)+ has a wide range of skills in his tool kit which are going to come in handy when dealing with General Synod. Let us hope so – he is going to need them!

23 November 2012 11:19
23 November 2012 08:04
Joyce said...

Congratulations, Laura.

Lay Anglicana said...


23 November 2012 09:07
23 November 2012 08:52
amie said...

I just read your very interesting article in the JC. As my grandfather was one of many Jewish immigrants from Lithuania to South Africa who settled in the 1890s in Oudshoorn, the centre of the ostrich farming and feather industry, I wondered if there were more to the Welby connection to South Africa. My mother reminded me that the founder of Progressive Judaism in South Africa was Rabbi Moses Cyrus Weiler, born Latvia in 1907. Do you know whether there is a connection? If so, the archbishop would cherish the connection, as Rabbi Weiler did very good works among the oppressed black population of South Africa: see here

Lay Anglicana said...

Thank-you very much, Arnie, this is an interesting prospect. Much is yet to be discovered – you will appreciate that I was only able to make the identification earlier this week! One of the reasons for wanting this to appear in The Jewish Chronicle is that it is so widely read and I am hoping that people will come forward, as you have, with more information. But I’m afraid at the moment I know nothing more.

23 November 2012 17:06
23 November 2012 16:28

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