Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Archbishop Arnold Matthew Harris decided that it was necessary to make arrangements for the safeguarding of the succession of the Old Catholics in England and called upon his priests to elect a suitable candidate for the episcopate. They elected the Reverend Frederick Willoughby, a former Anglican Clergyman, who was duly consecrated on October 28, 1914. His connection with the Old Catholic Church in Great Britain was formally terminated on May 19, 1915, and he eventually submitted to Rome.
When, the Old Catholic priests in England elected Willoughby, the next in order of voting was the Rev. James Ingall Wedgewood who had introduced a number of Theosophists into the Old Catholic Church. On August 6, 1915, Archbishop Mathew issued a Pastoral letter condemning Theosophy as a heresy and calling upon those of his clergy who were Theosophists to recant. They refused and so left the Old Catholic movement. These clergy and their lay followers did for a time continue to operate under the title. The Old Catholic Church,” which was available to them because the followers of Archbishop Mathew had chosen to use of the title Old Roman Catholic. Eventually they adopted the title The Liberal Catholic Church, which they felt to be more appropriate to their views. Bishop Willoughby was in negotiation with Rome with a view to reconciliation, but nothing final had been arranged. When approached by the Theosophical clergy, he consented to consecrate Wedgewood. It appears that Willoughby believed it only honorable to pass on to the clergy who had elected him the episcopal office in which he no longer intended to serve. Thus, on February 13, 1916 he consecrated:
- James Ingall Wedgewood as Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, who on July 22, 1916, consecrated:
- Charles Webster Leadbeater, Regionary Bishop for Australia, who on October 17, 1926, consecrated:
- Ray Marshall Wardall, Regionary Bishop for the USA, who on September 14, 1947, consecrated:
- Edward Murray Matthews for the USA, who on October 22, 1955, consecrated:
- William Henry Dawe for Canada, who on April 27, 1978, consecrated:
- Peter Wayne Goodrich, who on March 16, 1980, consecrated:
- Robert Vincent Bernard Dawe, who on October 18,1981, consecrated:
- Francis Thorne-Coley, who on August 20, 1998, consecrated:
- Lee Allen Petersen,who on April 26, 2009 consecrated:
- Mansell Christian Gilmore, who on January 30, 2001 consecrated:
- Bryan Dennis Ouellette, Ph.D., in ecclesia, Nicholas III, Patriarch, by acclamation and fiat, Holy Nicholean Church, Patriarch, by election and acclamation, Holy Imperial Russian Orthodox Church in exile.