Randall Davidson was born in Edinburgh in 1848, the eldest son of Henry Davidson, a merchant of Leith. Educated at Harrow (1862) and Trinity College Oxford (1867), he was ordained deacon in 1874 and priested the following year. He served at Dartford from 1874-77 where became chaplain to Archibald Tait, Archbishop of Canterbury (his father-in-law) and to Queen Victoria.
He went on to become Dean of Windsor (1883), Bishop of Rochester (1891) and Bishop of Winchester (1895) before being translated to the see of Canterbury (1903-1928).
He was Primate during a most difficult period, but promoted a strong Christian witness in national life, and maintained the comprehensiveness of the Church of England, and especially freedom for scholarship and inquiry. It was written of him:- "His capacities were essentially those of a chairman, and a chairman of extraordinary fairness. He was a most able administrator, while at the same time a man of great simplicity of character, and this won him the friendship and trust of men of widely different points of view