Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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WILLIAMS , ZEPHANIAH ( 1795 - 1874 ), Chartist ;

a native of Argoed , Bedwellty, Mon. He became a master-collier at Blaina , and (as it was usual for persons in his occupation to pay their men in public houses) he kept the Royal Oak Inn of that place. He was a free-thinker in religion, and ably defended his standpoint in A Letter to Benjamin Williams , 1831 . The local Working Men's Association met at his house, and he became an active Chartist leader . When it was decided to march on Newport on the night of 3 Nov. 1839 , Williams was entrusted with the leadership of the contingent of Chartists which met near Nant-y-glo . After the riot he was arrested on board ship at Cardiff , 23 Nov. , tried and condemned to death, but had his sentence commuted to transportation for life. In Tasmania he made attempts to escape, but eventually obtained a ticket of leave. He then discovered coal on the island , and in time made a considerable fortune. His wife, Joan , and his daughter, Rhoda , joined him in Tasmania in 1854 . His son, LLEWELLYN WILLIAMS , who remained in Wales , gained repute as a harpist , and was known as ‘ Pencerdd y De ’ (see M. O. Jones , Byw. Cerdd. Cymr ., and R. Griffith , Llyfr Cerdd Dannau , 325-6) Williams d. at Launceston , Tasmania , on 8 May 1874 .

Sources:

  • David Williams , John Frost, A Study in Chartism , 1939 , 1939 .

Author:

Emeritus Professor David Williams, D.Litt., (1900-78), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959