Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘shocked’ mother who ‘never doubted’ her husband was Justin Welby’s father …but, DNA never lies
Justin Welby was brought up believing Gavin Welby was his father
He has discovered in the last month Sir Anthony Montague Browne, Winston Churchill’s one time private secretary, is actually his father
DNA matched with hair samples from Montague Browne’s old hairbrush
Mother Jane Williams insists she had no doubts over who the father was
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s mother Jane Williams insists she never doubted her ex-husband was the father of Justin Welby. Today it was revealed that the most senior figure in the Anglican Communion is the son of Winston Churchill’s private secretary Sir Anthony Montague Browne and not Gavin Welby.
A comparison between a swab from his mouth and hair samples from Montague Browne’s old hairbrush showed a 99.9779 per cent probability that they were father and son.
However, for 60 years, the former Mrs Welby, who is now Lady Williams of Elvel, didn’t question the paternity of her son.
Jane issued a statement saying the news had come as an ‘almost unbelievable shock’, admitting to the liaison happened ‘fuelled by a large amount of alcohol’.
Pictured (left) is Jane Williams and (right) Gavin Welby and Jane with Justin Welby at his christening. He had always assumed he was a honeymoon baby
The Archbishop, left, has recently discovered Anthony Montague-Browne (right) was his biological father
Welby’s mother Jane issued a statement saying the news had come as an ‘almost unbelievable shock’, admitting to The Telegraph the liaison happened ‘fuelled by a large amount of alcohol’
‘It appears that the precautions taken at the time didn’t work and my wonderful son was conceived as a result of this liaison,’ she added.
Her statement read: ‘Although, as has already been made public, Gavin Welby and I had a short and, sadly, dysfunctional marriage, neither of us ever doubted that we were the parents of our son Justin, who was born almost nine months to the day after our marriage in America on April 4, 1955.
‘I still recall our joy at his arrival. So this DNA evidence with which I have now been presented proving that Gavin was not Justin’s biological father, so many years after Gavin’s death, has come as an almost unbelievable shock.’
At the time, Sir Anthony was married to his first wife, Noel Arnold-Wallinger, who he would separate from in 1950 on the grounds of adultery. He married his second wife Shelagh Macklin the same year.
Jane and Gavin married in April 1955. She has described her ex-husband Gavin Welby as ‘a very strong, possessive character’, adding: ‘At the end of March 1955 he was bullying me to leave my job as personal secretary to the Prime Minister and run away with him and marry him in the United States where his divorce was being finalised.
The Archbishop of Canterbury has discovered the man he grew up thinking was his father is not his biological parent
‘At the age of 25, as I was, the pressure became too great and in the end I found myself unable to resist.
‘One feature of this pressure is that I was already drinking heavily at times. Although I could then ensure that this did not affect my work, it was later to develop into serious alcoholism during the 1960s which only came to an end when I entered rehab in 1968. I have not drunk alcohol since.’
‘After Gavin and I broke up in 1958 Anthony and I met occasionally but although he may have asked how Justin was, there was nothing that gave me any hint that he might have thought he was Justin’s father.’
Sir Anthony confessed the priest was his secret son shortly before he died in 2013. It also emerged that Sir Anthony Montague Browne’s dying wish was to see Justin Welby one last time. Montague Browne, who was Winston Churchill’s private secretary between 1952 and 1965, had told his step-son Paddy Macklin the truth, after years of denying his paternity.
Macklin, 56, is the son of Lady Shelagh Montague Browne from a previous marriage and is a renowned round-the-world yachtsman.
He had growing suspicious that Sir Anthony was Welby’s father and the family used to joke about the striking resemblance between the two.
In early 2013, in a nursing home, Sir Anthony said he would like to meet Welby, who was Bishop at the time. Macklin phoned the Bishop’s office and made the request to Welby and also told him that he thought Sir Anthony, who was a friend and former colleague of his mother Jane Welby, was his father.
The surprised priest reportedly listened carefully but said he will discuss it further once the process of him becoming Archbishop of Canterbury was all over.
Paddy Macklin, 56, is the son of Lady Shelagh Montague Browne from a previous marriage and is a renowned round-the-world yachtsman
On March 21 that year he was installed as Archbishop and the next day Macklin showed his step-dad a picture of the ceremonial process. Speaking in French so the care home assistants did not understand, a frail Sir Anthony revealed that he was Welby’s father.
The newly-crowned Archbishop approached Macklin two weeks later to say he would meet Sir Anthony. But it was too late – his real father had passed away on April 1. After finding out for sure in a DNA test last month, Welby insisted he was not disturbed by the discovery.
‘In the last month I have discovered that my biological father is not whisky salesman Gavin Welby but, in fact, the late Sir Anthony Montague Browne – who worked for Churchill between 1952 and 1965.
‘This comes as a complete surprise,’ Welby said in a highly unusual statement issued through the Church of England.
‘I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes.’
Welby, left as a young man, had heard rumours that Montague Browne was his father previously
HIS REAL FATHER… WAR HERO NAMED IN WINSTON CHURCHILL’S WILL
Standing proudly behind Sir Winston Churchill, this is the real father of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Sir Anthony Montague Browne was a decorated war hero turned civil servant, who was later remembered in Churchill’s will.
He was born in 1923 and educated at Stowe and Oxford. He came from three generations of military officers and joined the RAF.
Montague Browne (standing back) was private secretary to Winston Churchill (bottom) in his later years
On a tour of duty as a Beaufighter pilot in the Far East with 211 Squadron, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for missions over Japanese-occupied Burma. After joining the Foreign Office in 1946, he married his first wife Noel in 1950. In 1952, aged just 29, he began working as Churchill’s private secretary.
Already working there was Jane Portal – Churchill’s personal secretary who would become Jane Welby – and the two became close friends. A year later, Sir Anthony’s wife gave birth to a daughter, whom they called Jane.
Despite what is now known to have been a particularly intimate relationship, he only mentioned Miss Portal once in his memoirs, which were published in 1995.
He said she had not been chosen for her ‘family connections’.
Speaking about her and another secretary, Elizabeth Gilliatt, he wrote: ‘Their efficiency was undoubted and their discretion and personalities endeared them to WSC.’
By early 1955 Churchill was in poor health and Miss Portal was dating Gavin Welby – who would become her husband. She left her role in March 1955 as Churchill stood down.
He was Churchill’s last private secretary and, apart from Lady Churchill, saw more of the wartime leader during the final decade of his life than anyone else
Sir Anthony, who was honoured for his service at No 10, briefly returned to the Foreign Office –but he was seconded to return as Churchill’s private secretary for the rest of his life.
When Churchill died in 1965 he left Sir Anthony £10,000 – almost four times his annual salary. Queen Elizabeth II also appointed him a liaison officer between the royal household and the BBC and ITV. The broadcasters made documentaries about royal life.
Later in life, Sir Anthony went on to work in the city as managing director of Gerrard and National.n He was also a trustee of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
He split from Noel in 1970 on the grounds of adultery. He was allegedly unfaithful with Shelagh Macklin, Clementine Churchill’s personal secretary, whom he later married.
Sir Anthony met Justin Welby a number of times and lived just long enough to see him installed as Archbishop. He died days later in 2013, at the age of 89.
The Archbishop’s mother Jane, personal secretary to Winston Churchill, pictured at the New York World Fair, with Philip George, arranging an exhibition of mementos of Churchill
He was Churchill’s last private secretary and, apart from Lady Churchill, saw more of the wartime leader during the final decade of his life than anyone else. Sir Anthony had arrived at Downing Street in October 1952.
Churchill, then aged 77 and in his second spell as Prime Minister, wanted a new private secretary to succeed David Hunt, and picked Sir Anthony from a shortlist supplied by the Treasury. Churchill’s first words to him were: ‘I dare say we will get on very well together.’
Sir Anthony accompanied Churchill on many overseas trips. He recalled a visit to Monte Carlo, where the Prime Minister dabbled in gambling.
He described one evening when Frank Sinatra and his entourage walked by Churchill’s table. He said Sinatra stopped and vigorously shook Churchill’s hand before declaring: ‘I’ve been waiting to do that for ages
After he left, Sir Anthony recalled, Churchill turned to his friends and asked: ‘Who the hell was that?’
Montague Browne had one other child, a daughter named Jane Hoare-Temple.
According to the newspaper, the family had long discussed the striking resemblance between the Archbishop of Canterbury and Montague Brown – and Welby himself was aware of the rumours. He had even met the man who would later turn out to be his father as a child. The Telegraph then discussed what they had discovered with Welby, who decided to take a DNA test.
Shelagh Montague Browne had kept the hairbrush, untouched, so it contained full follicles which provide clear DNA results.
Justin Welby as a schoolboy during his days at Eton, and the man he thought was his father, Gavin, who died when the future Archbishop of Canterbury was just 21
THE LIFE OF JUSTIN WELBY
January 1956: Born in London
1959: Mother Jane divorces Gavin Welby
1974: Leaves Eton
1977: Gavin Welby dies
1978: Graduates from Trinity College, Cambridge
1978-1989: Works in the oil industry
1983: Daughter Johanna dies in a car crash
1989: Retires after hearing calling from God
1989-1992: Studies theology
1993: Ordained as priest
2007: Becomes Dean of Liverpool Cathedral
2011: Becomes Bishop of Durham
March 2013: Becomes Bishop of Canterbury
April 2013: Bioloigical father Anthony Montague Browne dies
March 2016: Discovers true parentage
The tryst took place in about March 1955, shortly before she married Gavin Welby. Jane was secretary to Churchill from 1950 to 1955
RULE CHANCE MEANS HE KEEPS HIS JOB
Until the 1950s, canon law said that bishops had to be born in wedlock.
But this rule against illegitimacy was abolished in the 1950s by Geoffrey Fisher, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1945 to 1961.
Section C.2.4 of the canon laws of the Church of English now states: ‘No person shall be refused consecration as bishop on the grounds that he was born out of lawful wedlock.’ Archbishop Fisher’s revisions of the law were conducted alongside a Canon Law Commission, brought about in 1939 to review the 151 canons. It sat eight times between 1943 and 1947.
An entirely new set of canons was then accepted by the Church of England Convocation by 1969.
Welby, who is currently in Zambia for a month-long clergy event, said both his mother Jane and Gavin Welby had been alcoholics, although he stressed that his mother had not touched alcohol for nearly 50 years.
‘To find that one’s father is other than imagined is not unusual. To be the child of families with great difficulties in relationships, with substance abuse or other matters, is far too normal,’ he said in his statement.
‘Although there are elements of sadness and even tragedy in my father’s (Gavin Welby’s) case, this is a story of redemption and hope from a place of tumultuous difficulty and near despair in several lives.’
The bishop lived with Gavin in London while his mother Jane lived in Norfolk
Four years ago, it was revealed Welby senior had been a master of reinvention, changing his name and even his date of birth during his lifetime.
He was born Bernard Gavin Weiler in Ruislip, in the West London suburbs, in 1910. The family Anglicised the name four years later, with the outbreak of war. In 1929, his mother gave him £5 and put him on a ship bound for New York – which is where he began to build his fortune, illegally trading in whisky during the Prohibition years.
He married his first wife in 1934, a marriage which lasted just a year.
Welby senior returned to London, and a home in Onslow Square, Kensington, in 1950. After a failed attempt at romancing John F Kennedy’s sister in about 1952, he met Jane Portal. Jane split from Gavin Welby in 1958, married Baron Williams of Elvel in 1975. Gavin Welby died ‘as a result of the alcohol and smoking’ in 1977 when the Archbishop was 21.