Dictionary of Welsh Biography



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WILLIAMS family, of Aberpergwm , Vale of Neath . This family was descended from Morgan Fychan (q.v.) , second son of Morgan Gam , who in his early days was connected with the area round Baglan ; poets of distinction (see D. R. Phillips , below) wrote in honour of various members of this family during the Middle Ages. The surname was adopted by the descendants of William ap Jenkin ap Hopkin of Blaen Baglan ; it was his second son, Jenkin William , who first settled at Aberpergwm , c. 1500 . The family produced no particularly noteworthy member until the end of the 18th cent. ; but long before that (certainly not later than 1670 ) it was deriving an income from the coal and ironstone on the estate by leasing the rights to speculators. George Williams , a notable athlete (d. 1796 ), is believed to have been the last of the legitimate line, and it was REES WILLIAMS (d. 1812 ), who is thought to have been his illegitimate son (or perhaps that of his father of the same name), who launched the family on a more distinguished career. He was interested in literature , and in 1802 corresponded with Southey ; but he also maintained the strong Welsh traditions of this family, and the poet Dafydd Nicolas (q.v.) was given a home by him at Aberpergwm for many years. On the industrial side, Rees Williams , in 1810 , after considerable litigation with the contractors, took the coal mines into his own hands. Maria Jane Williams (q.v.) was his daughter. He was succeeded by his eldest son, WILLIAM WILLIAMS , b. 7 Dec. 1788 , d. 27 March 1855 . He was a man of considerable culture, a great traveller, and a patron of Welsh writers . Another member of the family who was ‘a man of his own people’ was his son, REES WILLIAMS , who d. 9 Nov. 1863 ; his burial service was conducted in Welsh , and memorial services were held in every chapel in the neighbourhood — the Baptist minister , T. E. James (q.v.) , published a sermon on the occasion, together with an elegy. His successor was his brother, MORGAN WILLIAMS , b. 1846 , d. 13 Dec. 1909 . He bought S. Donats castle ; but after the 1914-18 war both the castle and the coal mines were sold.

Bibliography:

  • D. Rhys Phillips , The Hist. of the Vale of Neath , Swansea, 1925 , especially 364-72, but see also the index;
  • G. J. Williams , Traddodiad Llenyddol Morgannwg , 1948 , 241-3.

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor