THE Archbishop of York has dismissed claims he is ineligible to become Archbishop of Canterbury after documents emerged suggesting he could be too old for the role.

Dr John Sentamu’s date of birth is given in Who’s Who as June 10, 1949, while his registration document at Makerere University, in his native Uganda, also states he was born that year, meaning he is 63.

But three forms, including Dr Sentamu’s registration as a director of the Church’s central board of finance after his appointment as Archbishop of York and ones signed by him, show his birth date was originally given as June 10, 1947.

Two of the documents, which date from his appointment as Bishop of Stepney in 1996, appear to have stated Dr Sentamu’s was born in 1947, but the seven has been changed to a nine, with the nine repeated in the margin for clarity, before the documents were filed.

Dr Sentamu, who was yesterday named as Christian worshippers’ favourite to succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury in December, would reach the Church’s mandatory retirement age of 70 before the Lambeth Conference in 2018, the crucial event awaiting the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury.

After a national newspaper suggested a mystery surrounded Dr Sentamu’s age, the archbishop’s office placed copies of his birth and marriage certificates and passport on his website.

The spokesman for the archbishop said the confusion stemmed from an administrative error in 1979, when Dr Sentamu gave his biographical details to Crockford’s, the official directory of Church clergy and that the mistake had been corrected in 2007.

He said: “The archbishop’s correct date of birth is June 10, 1949. We will ensure any documents or listings that state differently are corrected.”

A poll by ComRes of 500 people across the Christian denominations has found 45 per cent of Pentecostals, 35 per cent of Roman Catholics and 43 per cent of Anglicans want Dr Sentamu to be the next head of the Anglican Communion, from a list of 12 potential candidates.

The second choice for Christians was former Bishop of Durham Tom Wright, 63, with eight per cent of people saying they wanted him to lead the Church.

Last week, the odds on the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Justin Welby, 56, a former executive in the oil industry, narrowed after he was invited to sit on the parliamentary inquiry into banking.