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David Macbeth Moir Carey C.B.E.

Principal Registrar

21 Jan 1917 - 2000

son of Godfrey Mohun Carey
and Margaret Ruth Mills

Married: 1949

Margaret Ruth Mills

David Macbeth Moir Carey  (aged 46) signing a licence for Princess Alexandra's marriage to Angus Ogilvy 1963.


Jonathan Hugh Carey
Peter Milligan Carey
Alister Mohun Carey

Educated at Westminster, where he was King's Scholar, and at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he read Greats and rowed for the college. Joined the ecclesiastical solicitors Lee, Bolton and Lee, whose offices at No 1 The Sanctuary share a party wall with Westminster Abbey.

During the Second World War, Carey served in the RNVR as secretary to the commanding officer of Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMs) in Bombay. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, and at the time of the Japanese surrender was busy with preparations for the retaking of Singapore.

Admitted as a solicitor in 1947 and the next year became a partner at Lee, Bolton and Lee. He later became a senior partner in 1975. In 1953, became Legal Secretary to the Bishop of Ely, and in 1957 undertook the same responsibilities for the Bishop of Gloucester. In 1958, inherited the job of Principal Registrar and Legal Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury. His predecessor in the post was Sir Henry Dashwood, the senior partner in his firm. who has served three Archbishops since 1913. Was a steward at Westminster Abbey from 1948-1961, ultimately as Honorary Chief Steward. He was a Governor of Westminster School from 1960-1992 and chaired the committees which selected the headmasters, John Rae and David Summerscale. He was a Gold Staff Officer at the Queens Coronation in 1953 and was appointed CBE in 1983.

He was chief legal adviser to four successive Archbishops of Canterbury: Geoffrey Fisher, Michael Ramsey, Donald Coggan and Robert Runcie. These four Archbishops differed considerably not only in their personalities but also in their churchmanship. Carey, however, became a trusted legal secretary to all of them. His duties entailed frequent, often daily, meetings with the archbishop.

A particularly thorny question upon which he was required to give advice concerned the transfer of powers from the Archbisop of Canterbury to the Archbishops of the Anglican Communion in other parts of the world. This was one of the most important constitutional reforms in the history of the Anglican church.

He was a quiet, disciplined man who never jumped into speech, Carey has a reassuring calmness about him. However pressing the crisis, he could be guaranteed to remain utterly reliable and discreet. He was an astute judge of people as well as of Church matters, so that the advice he gave was shrewd as well as precise. He was sustained by a strong Christian faith. In 1978, Donald Coggan awarded Carey a Lambeth degree in recognition of his legal work.

Four years later, at the General Synod, Robert Runcie paid tribute to him as 'a wise counsellor, not only to me but also a vast number of people - bishops, clergy and laity - who have sought his help in constitution-writing of the Anglican Communion since the last war'.

Source: The Daily Telegraph - 14 Feb 2000 - Obituary