Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMS , Sir ROGER ( 1540? - 1595 ), soldier and author .

There were three persons bearing this name who must be distinguished one from another — (1) Sir Roger Williams ( 1604? - 1683 ), founder of the colony of Rhode Island , U.S.A. ; he used to be claimed as a Welshman , afterwards as a Cornishman , but now it can be fairly confidently stated that he was the son of a James Williams , ‘ citizen and merchant taylor of London ,’ and his wife Alice ; (2) Roger Williams , a member of the family of Penrhos, Mon. (this family bore, later, the surname Addams-Williams — see under Williams , Sir Trevor ) ; and (3) Sir Roger Williams ( 1540? - 1595 ), soldier and author ; it is with him that this short note will be concerned.

Like his namesake, the second Roger Williams named above, Sir Roger Williams was a member of the family of Penrhos , being the son of Thomas Williams and his wife, Eleanor , daughter of Sir William Vaughan . Anthony Wood says that he spent some time at Oxford — at Brasenose College . He became a soldier ; indeed, he was only 17 when he fought at S. Quentin . He spent almost the remainder of his life in Europe as a ‘ soldier of fortune ’; he was courageous and daring and became well-known as an expert in the art of military warfare . In April 1572 he was a member of a troop of 300 men who went to Flushing , under captain Thomas Morgan ( c. 1542 - 1595 , q.v.) , to assist the Dutch against the armies of Spain ; he fought also alongside of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Philip Sidney . From the Netherlands he went to Germany — for details refer to the D.N.B. He was knighted by the earl of Leicester — possibly in 1586 . His first publication was A Brief Discourse of War , 1590 ; this work being followed by Newes from Sir Roger Williams , 1591 . In 1618 there was published, posthumously, his Actions of the Low Countries ; of this there was a reprint in Somers 's Tracts , 1809 , a Dutch translation, Memorien van Roger Williams , appearing in 1864 . He d. at his home in London 12 Dec. 1595 , and was buried ( 23 Dec .) in S. Paul's Cathedral .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , and the sources noted therein;
  • The National Library of Wales Journal , i, 114-5;
  • Sir Roger Williams pedigree roll, compiled by Thomas Jones (Twm Siôn Cati), now in N.L.W.;
  • copies of his publications in N.L.W.


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959