The Archbishop’s mother, who married again and is now Lady Williams of Elvel, confirmed to her son that she had a liaison with Sir Anthony shortly before she married Welby, though neither she nor Welby had ever suspected there was a doubt about Justin’s paternity. In a statement last night, she said that the news had come as “an almost unbelievable shock”. Archbishop Welby, an only child, has also gained a half-sister, Jane, who is three years older than him.
The discovery gave Lambeth Palace cause to check canon law, as men born illegitimately were for centuries barred from becoming archbishops. A little-known change in the law dating to the Fifties removed that bar, leaving Archbishop Welby safe in his post.
Don’t we actually assume that a child born within marriage is legitimate as far as the law is concerned, whatever the actual story?