Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMS , CHARLES ( 1807? - 1877 ), principal of Jesus College, Oxford ;

b. in 1807? christened 22 June 1807 , third son of William Williams ( 1765 - 1847 ), a Dolgelley man who was for fifty-nine years master of Cowbridge grammar school . From that school, Charles Williams went up to Jesus College in 1823 , graduated in 1827 with a ‘first’ in classics and a ‘second’ in mathematics, and was Fellow of his college from 1829 till 1845 . He received a M.A. degree in 1830 , B.D. in 1837 , and D.D. in 1858 . He was master of Ruthin grammar school , 1831-9 , but in 1839 returned to be lecturer , tutor , and bursar of Jesus College .

In 1845 , he was given the perpetual curacy of Holyhead , and remained there till 1857 ; he proved himself an excellent parish priest . He was a man of exceptional generosity, and later on, large numbers of Holyhead children would be invited to spend a holiday at the principal 's lodgings at Jesus . In 1857 , he was elected principal of the college — a college which had long been stagnating and was now in the throes of the reforms demanded by the Royal Commission of 1852 . He was an honorary canon of Bangor from 1857 until his d. His management of the college has been described as ‘ wise and prudent ’; a characteristic incident was his offer of an exhibition to John Rhys , ‘ on the spot ,’ after a brief interview ( D.N.B. , under Rhys , John ).

His very poor eyesight (not to mention his administrative duties) prevented his writing anything of great consequence, though he was a sound scholar. Yet he was interested in things Welsh ; he was prominent at the Aberffraw eisteddfod of 1849 , and in 1866 published a booklet, The Rules of the Welsh Initial Changes ; he also published a volume of sermons. He d. 17 Oct. 1877 .

[The father, too, was a prominent supporter of the ‘provincial’ eisteddfodic movement in S.-E. Wales ; he had a well-used collection of old Welsh books.]


  • Foster , Alumni Oxonienses ;
  • Hardy , Jesus College (1899) , 204;
  • Hopkin-James , Old Cowbridge. Borough, Church, and School (Cardiff, 1922) , 255, 272-3;
  • R. Hughes , Enwogion Môn, 1850–1912 (1913) , 199;
  • information from the late Miss Lucy Williams, Holyhead .


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

Published date: 1959