Anglican prelate's father had affair with JFK sister
Published 25/11/2012 | 05:00
THE next Archbishop of Canterbury told last night of his shock at discovering the truth about his father's secret life.
Bishop Justin Welby had, since the age of three, been brought up alone by his alcohol-dependent businessman father, Gavin Welby, a divorcee.
But he had no idea of his father's remarkable life story.
Mr Welby had disguised his real name and German-Jewish roots and invented an aristocratic English persona in America, where he earned riches in the drinks industry and organising debutante balls.
He had married in America but kept it a secret all his life. He also had an affair with John F Kennedy's sister Patricia and later dated the actress Vanessa Redgrave.
He stood for Britain's House of Commons as a Conservative candidate but was sued for libel by his Labour opponent, Richard Crossman. His sister, whose identity he never revealed, married a Communist MP.
"I think it is quite a remarkable story," said the Rt Rev Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham. "I would have thought, 'Wow, that's a fantastic story' if he had told me about it as a child."
His father was born Bernard Gavin Weiler, the son of a Jewish immigrant from Germany, though he never told his son he had any Jewish ancestry.
"He wouldn't talk about his family at all," said Bishop Welby, although his father did admit to him that he had first made money bootlegging whiskey in America during the prohibition years.
He later 'went legit', running the New York concession for a major drinks firm supplying leading Manhattan hotels.