Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMSON , EDWARD WILLIAM ( 1892 - 1953 ), Bishop of Swansea and Brecon ;

b. 22 April 1892 , only son of Edward Williamson , a solicitor in Cardiff , and his wife Florence Frances Tipton . He received his education in the Cathedral School , Llandaff , Westminster School , where he was a King's Scholar , and Christchurch , Oxford where he gained B.A. (2nd-cl. Lit. Hum.) 1914 , M.A. 1917 . From Wells Theological College he was ordained deacon 1914 and served as curate of St. Martin , Potternewton , Yorkshire 1915-17 . He was ordained priest 1916 . He served as curate of Lambeth 1917-22 and was appointed Lecturer in St. Augustine's College Canterbury 1922-23 . He was elected Fellow in 1923 and Honorary Fellow from 1936 . He was appointed Warden of St. Michael's College , Llandaff 1926 and remained there until he was elected Bishop of Swansea and Brecon in November 1939 . He was Hon. Chaplain to the Bishop of Llandaff 1929-31 ; Examining Chaplain 1931-39 . He was canon of Caerau in Llandaff Cathedral 1930-37 and appointed Chancellor 1937-39 . He was consecrated Bishop of Swansea and Brecon in Bangor cathedral 30th November by the Archbishop of Wales ( Charles Green , see above ).

Though he was not a Welshman , he loved Wales , its church and people. When he was invited early in 1953 to become one of the vice-presidents of the national eisteddfod at Ystradgynlais ( 1954 ) his letter of acceptance was written in Welsh . A few minutes before he died, during the meetings of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales at Llandrindod , he had made a powerful speech, deploring the exodus of young Welsh priests to England . He was at his best among the students at St. Michael's College ; his quiet charm and sound learning influenced generations of ordinands.

He was well versed in antiquarian subjects, and had begun to study ecclesiastical architecture when he was a boy. He travelled on the continent to pursue this interest and wrote about the subject with deep knowledge. He wrote a guide to Llandaff cathedral , The Story of Llandaff Cathedral , 1930 , which went into five editions. He was a member of the Cambrian Archaeological Association and was elected President at Brecon in August 1957 for the session 1951-52 . He delivered a lecture on this occasion, basing his remarks on the history of Welsh saints according to the BL Vespasian A XIV manuscript. He edited The Letters of Osbert of Clare , 1929 . In 1946 he published An Anatomy of Joy , three sermons which he preached as the Select Preacher at Oxford in 1944-45 . He was Select Preacher at Cambridge in 1951 . In January 1953 he broadcast the Radio Lecture, Henry Vaughan , which was published by the B.B.C.

Although he was a shy, reserved bachelor, as a public speaker he could be both balanced and witty. Of attractive appearance, his saintliness was apparent to all who knew him. He died 23rd September 1953 and was buried at Brecon .


  • Crockford's Clerical Directory , 1948 ;
  • Who's who in Wales ;
  • Province , Autumn 1953 ;
  • Yr Haul , Autumn 1953 ;
  • Archaeologia Cambrensis , 101 (1951) ;
  • The Church Times , 25 Sept., 2nd Oct. 1953 ;
  • Western Mail , 3 Nov. 1939 .


Mary Gwendoline Ellis, M.A., Aberystwyth

Published date: 2001