Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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WILLIAMS , PETER ( 1723 - 1796 ), Methodist cleric, author, and Biblical commentator ;

b. 15 Jan. 1723 at West Marsh , Llansadyrnin, Carms. , son of Owen and Elizabeth Williams . He was educated at Carmarthen grammar school ; while there, after listening ( 1743 ) to a sermon preached by George Whitefield , he was converted. He was for a short time a schoolmaster at Cynwyl Elfed . He was ordained deacon in 1745 and became a curate successively at Eglwys Gymyn , Swansea , Llangrannog , and Llandysilio Gogo , but his Methodism got him into trouble in his parishes and the bishop refused to make him a priest. He joined the Methodists in 1747 and began to tour the country, preaching . In 1748 he m. Mary Jenkins of Llanlluan and, before long, settled at Gelli Lednais , Llandyfaelog , where he d. 8 Aug. 1796 . Eliezer and Peter Bailey Williams (qq.v.) were his sons. Peter Williams was one of the outstanding leaders of the Methodist movement in Wales . He was also a writer and a poet . His hymns are to be found in Rhai Hymnâu ac Odlau Ysprydol , 1759 , and Hymns on Various Subjects , 1771 ; he also published elegies on William Davies of Neath , 1787 , and on Daniel Rowland , 1790 . His chief books are Blodau i Blant , 1758 ; Galwad gan wyr eglwysig , 1781 ; Cydymaith mewn Cystudd , 1782 ; Yr Hyfforddwr Cymreigaidd , 1784 ; Y Briodas Ysbrydol , 1784 ; Ymddygiad Cristianogol , 1784 . He also adapted and translated a number of English books. He had something to do with the publication of Trysorfa Gwybodaeth, neu, Eurgrawn Cymraeg , the first Welsh periodical, 1770 , but the question whether he or Josiah Rees (q.v.) was its editor has not yet been decided.

His life's greatest achievement was the publication of successive editions of the Bible , each chapter having its own separate commentary. The first edition was published and sold out in 1770 and there were calls for many more editions. ‘ Beibl Peter Williams ’ was tremendously popular in Wales for several generations and many thousands of copies were issued at one time or another. In 1773 he published the Mynegeir Ysgrythurol , which was a great help to the Welsh folk in their study of the Bible . His commentary on John, i, 1 , aroused the suspicion that he was inclining to Sabellianism , but it was after his publication of a Welsh edition of John Canne 's ‘ Little Bible ’ ( 1790 ) that the storm broke. He was accused of publishing the Sabellian heresy and at the Llandeilo C.M. Association , 1791 , was excommunicated. He spent the last years of his life in bitter controversy with the Methodists , and it was during this period that his last books were published. They were: Llythyr at Hen Gydymaith , 1791 ; Tafol i Bwyso Sosiniaeth , 1791 ; Dirgelwch Duwioldeb , 1792 ; and Gwreiddyn y Mater , 1794 .

Sources:

  • Owen Williams , Cofiant, neu Hanes bywyd a marwolaeth y Parchedig Peter Williams, o Gaerfyrddin … Wedi ei gasglu a'i gyfieithu , Caernarfon, 1817 , 1817 ;
  • St. George A. Williams , The English works of the late Rev. Eliezer Williams, M.A., Vicar of Lampeter and Caio cum Llansawel … with a memoir of his life , London, 1840 ;
  • Cylchgrawn Cymdeithas Hanes y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , vi, 35; xxxiv, 49;
  • the manuscript sources are given in G. M. Roberts , Bywyd a Gwaith Peter Williams , Cardiff, 1943 .

Author:

Rev. Gomer Morgan Roberts, M.A., (1904-93), Pont-rhyd-y-fen / St Dogmael's / Llandybïe

Published date: 1959