Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMS , JOHN ( 1792 - 1858 ), cleric, scholar, and schoolmaster ;

b. at Ystrad Meurig , 11 April 1792 , son of John Williams ( 1745/6 - 1818 ) (q.v.) and Jane his wife. He attended his father's school there, and then went to teach at Chiswick . After a further period at school at Ludlow he matriculated at Oxford from Balliol College , 20 Nov. 1810 . He took his B.A. in 1814 , after obtaining the highest honours in classics; he taught at Winchester for four years, and subsequently at Hyde Abbey school , near that city. During this period he took holy orders , and in 1820 , after the death of Eliezer Williams (q.v.) , he was offered the living of Lampeter by bishop Burgess (q.v.) . He accepted it, and continued the excellent work done by his predecessor. He was not chosen first principal of S. David's College , but his school so prospered that some boys were sent to him from Scotland , including a son of Sir Walter Scott . In 1823 , his brother David , who had succeeded their father as headmaster of Ystrad Meurig , died; but John Williams did not succeed to his place. However, in 1824 , he was appointed first rector of Edinburgh Academy , and began his work there on 1 Oct. Here he met with great success; and although he accepted in Aug. 1827 the chair of Latin in London University (resigning it nine months later) he was re-elected to his rectorship and remained there till 1847 . When Llandovery College was founded, John Williams (who had been archdeacon of Cardigan since Oct. 1833 , being re-instituted in Aug. 1835 owing to a technical error) was invited to become the first warden . He started on his work on S. Davids Day, 1848 , and remained there till he retired owing to illhealth at Easter, 1853 . By that time the school's reputation was established. After retiring, John Williams lived at Brighton , Oxford and Bushey ; he d. at the last-named place on 27 Dec. 1858 , and was buried there on 4 Jan. 1859 . He m. Mary , only daughter of Thomas Evans of Llanilar , and they had six daughters. John Williams was considered to be one of the best classical scholars whom Wales has produced; he was also, according to all accounts, an excellent teacher . There is a portrait of him in his old school at Edinburgh , and also a bust (unless recently removed) in the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth . He published a number of books on classical subjects (see the list in D.N.B. ), and in 1851 produced an edition of Theophilus Evans (q.v.) , Drych y Prif Oesoedd .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • D. G. Osborne-Jones , Edward Richard of Ystradmeurig with the story of his school and its associations under its successive masters 1734-1934 (Carmarthen, 1934) ;
  • Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol o Enwogion Cymru (1870) ;
  • Foster , Alumni Oxonienses ;
  • Benjamin Williams (Gwynionydd) , Enwogion Ceredigion (1869) .


Thomas Iorwerth Ellis, M.A., (1899-1970), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959