Archbishop of Canterbury pays tribute to his late mother


Archbishop Justin pays tribute to his mother, Lady Jane Williams, who died yesterday at the age of 93.

Lady Jane Williams Sally Eckes/Lambeth Palace

Archbishop Justin said: “It’s with profound sadness that I mourn the loss of my mother. I loved her very deeply and it has been a privilege to be her son. I am the person I am in part because of her love, example and encouragement. Our whole family share in the loss of a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. We are profoundly grateful to God for the gift she has been to us all – for all we received from her, and all she has meant to us. The grief we feel is a measure of the love we have shared. We will treasure the many memories we have of her: memories full of grace, laughter and joy. 

“My mother had a remarkable life. She was born in India in 1929. During much of World War II she lived with her mother’s brother, R.A. Butler. Her first job in 1949 was working for Winston Churchill, with whom she stayed until 1955. She was one of the last of his personal staff. Later in life, until quite recently she often lectured and spoke about him. She also worked for the Nobel Prize winner, Professor Sir Ernst Chain, at Imperial College London, who, with his family, were very kind to her.

“My mother lived a full human life, with all its ups and downs. Her story is one of redemption – which she found through faith in Jesus Christ, and loving service to others. In recovery from alcoholism, she helped countless others to know freedom from addiction. She spent many years supporting people to rebuild their lives after leaving prison, professionally as a Probation Officer in Camberwell, then in the National Parole Board, and also as a Prison Visitor. In 1977 she married my stepfather, Lord Williams of Elvel, and it was a happy marriage of over 40 years until his death in 2019. Each step in her journey towards greater fullness of life brought me such joy. 

“Towards the end of her life she showed great courage, faith and hope. She knew she would soon be with God. That was a source of strength for her, and for all of us, and her death was peaceful and full of hope. I know that many people will be praying for me and my family at this time and we are deeply grateful. Losing those we love is an experience we all share. But grief is bearable if we bear it together – and we do so knowing the presence of the Good Shepherd who welcomes us into the house of God for evermore.” 

Lambeth Palace sincerely thanks all those who will be praying for the Archbishop and his family at this time. 

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