Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMS , JOHN ( 1806 - 1856 ), Baptist minister and author ;

son of Robert Williams , a native of Llandoged, Denbs. , and Elizabeth Jones of Yr Efail , Glanwydden , Creuddyn, Caerns. ; he was b. at his mother's home, 20 June 1806 . His writings show his early interest in literature and languages , and he set to work to study and improve his mind. After a short period at the school kept by John Hughes , incumbent of Llanddulas , he found a patron in the Bodysgallen family , who sent him to Robert Watkin Lloyd 's school at Tamworth to be prepared for Oxford . He only stayed there nine months and then returned home to find himself in an awkward position — his patron disappointed and his people vexed. He resumed his studies, was invited to keep a school at Eglwys-bach ( 1830-3 ), and began to preach . He became minister of Llansilin and Moelfre ( 1833-6 ), Rhos and Brymbo ( 1836-41 ), Newtown ( 1841-53 ), Rhos , and Penycae ( 1853-6 ). In some of these places he kept a school for the training of candidates for the ministry . He was influenced by the Campbellite movement . He translated Alexander Campbell 's dissertation on forgiveness, and in 1839 began to translate the New Testament under the title Yr Oraclau Bywiol , 1842 . It is now considered that the Oraclau Bywiol is not, as the author maintained, a translation from the original Greek but a literal translation of Alexander Campbell 's Testament and the works of George Campbell , J. Macknight , and P. Doddridge . His most outstanding work is Ffugyrau y Beibl . This is an attempt to instruct the reader in the principles of exegesis. His contribution as a linguist is none the less valuable and it is evident that he had a clear conception of the functions of the grammarian. His writings show the independence of his judgement and prove clearly that his intention was to enlighten the understanding, cultivate the intelligence, and make man a free citizen. He d. 15 Nov. 1856 , and was buried in Pen-y-cae cemetery where there is a tombstone on his grave.


  • R. Ellis (Cynddelw), Cofiant y diweddar Parch. John Williams. Rhosllanerchrugog (Llangollen, 1871) ;
  • Yr Oraclau Bywiol, neu Ysgrifeniadau Cysegrlan Apostolion ac Efengylwyr Iesu Grist, a elwir y Testament Newydd. Wedi ei gyfieithu (London, 1842) , 1842 (2nd imp., 1881 );
  • Ffugyrau y Beibl, neu gyfres o ysgrifau ar ddeongliaeth yr ysgrythyrau (Caernarfon, 1890) , 1890 ;
  • ‘Testament Campbell’ — controversy between J.W. and ‘Q.’, Seren Gomer , 1839-40 ;
  • ‘J.W. Ei gyfraniad i ddiwinyddiaeth’, Seren Gomer , 1933 , 25, 63, 102;
  • John Griffiths , ‘Bywyd a Gwaith J.W.’ — thesis, 1947 ;
  • W. Phillips , Testament Newydd Alexander Campbell (1826) , 1826 ;
  • George Campbell , The Four Gospels, translated from the Greek. With preliminary dissertations, and notes critical and explanatory (London, 1789) , 1813 ;
  • P. Doddridge , The Family Expositor or, a Paraphrase and Version of the New Testament with critical notes; and a practical improvement of each section (London, 1760, 1831) , 1831 ;
  • J. Macknight , A New Translation of the Epistle (1832) , 1832 ;
  • John Williams , Gramadeg dwyieithawg neu ramadeg o'r iaith Seisnig yn Gymraeg a Saesneg, wedi ei gyfansoddi at wasanaeth ac er buddioldeb cymroaidd = Duoglott grammar or A grammar of the English language in Welsh and English, compiled for the use of Welsh students in the English language (Llanrwst, 1827) , 1862 .


Reverend William Phillips, M.A., (1880-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959