Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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RHYS-WILLIAMS , Sir RHYS ( 1865 - 1955 ), first Baronet created 1918, and a judge ;

b. 20 Oct. 1865 the eldest son of Judge Gwilym Williams ( DWB , 1039-40) and his wife Emma (née Williams ) of Miskin , Pont-y-clun, Glam. He went to Eton in 1880 and Oriel College , Oxford , and was called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in 1890 . He practiced for some years on the South Wales circuit , succeeding his father as chairman of the quarter sessions in Glamorganshire in 1906 , an office they held for more than half a century. He became a judge in 1913 . Early in World War I he obtained a commission in the Grenadier Guards but transferred to the Welsh Guards on its formation in 1915 . He devised a means of preventing bombs from accidentally exploding and injuring the soldiers who carried them, but he himself was injured twice and mentioned twice in despatches , being awarded the D.S.O. in 1915 and a medal of the Order of St. Vladimir by Russia in 1916 for his gallantry. He spent the latter half of 1917 in the War Office , followed by a year in the Admiralty Office . He served as a Coalition Liberal M.P. for Banbury ( 1918-22 ), and during his brief period as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Transport , Sir Eric Geddes , he drafted a bill unifying the railways into five main groups. In 1922 he became Recorder of Cardiff ( till 1930 ). In conjunction with the chief constable , Lionel Lindsay , he had the responsibility of controlling the police through the difficult times during the long miners' strike and the general strike of 1926 . As director of several companies he spent much time developing his business interests in the Rhondda valley , where he endeavoured to alleviate the effects of unemployment . He m. 24 Feb. 1921 , and had two sons and two daughters but the eldest son was killed in action in World War II and he himself d. 29 Jan. 1955 . He appended Rhys to his surname in 1938 .

His wife was

JULIET EVANGELINE , Lady RHYS-WILLIAMS ( 1898 - 1964 ), author ;

b. in Eastbourne 17 Dec. 1898 , daughter of Clayton Glyn and his wife the novelist Elinor Glyn . Juliet left school in 1914 to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment , eventually becoming private secretary to Rhys Williams in 1919 . In the 1930s she did valuable work for maternity services and child welfare in south Wales and served as chairman of Cwmbrân Development Corporation ( 1955-60 ). For her part in drafting and supporting the Midwives Act in 1936 she was created D.B.E. Although unsuccessful twice at elections, she served the Liberal Party as chairman of the Publications and Publicity Committee ( 1944-46 ). She supported European unity, being secretary and a leading member of the European League for Economic Co-operation . As chairman of the National Birthday Trust Fund she was active for many years in organising medical research , resulting in the production of the Perinatal Mortality Survey Report ( 1963 ). Among her best known publications are Something to look forward to ( 1943 ), delineating a scheme for social security, and Taxation and incentive ( 1952 ). She d. 18 Sept. 1964 .



  • Who was who? , 1951-60 , 1961-70 ;
  • The Times , 25 Feb. 1921 , 31 Jan., 1, 3, 4 Feb. 1955 , 19 Sept. 1964 ;
  • Western Mail , 31 Jan. 1955 .


Dr Mary Auronwy James, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001