Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMS, DAVID JAMES (1897-1972), Labour politician.

He was born at Gwauncaegurwen on 3 February 1897, the son of Morgan Williams, a coalminer, and Margaretta Jones. He was educated at Gwauncaergurwen elementary school. He began work as a coalminer in 1911, and was then a student at the Marxist Central Labour College, 1919-21. He was unemployed before spending the year 1922-23 at Ruskin College, Oxford and he published the important volume, Capitalist Combination in the Coal Industry (1924). He then earned his living as a lecturer at the Scottish Labour College from 1924 until 1931. He returned to become a working coalminer in 1931 and was a checkweighman and lodge secretary at Gwauncaegurwen, 1931-45. He was elected chairman of the Anthracite Miners' Combine Committee and was elected a member of the executive council of the South Wales Miners' Federation.

D. J. Williams had joined the Labour Party in 1917 and the ILP in 1922, serving as propaganda secretary of the Oxford branch of the ILP. He was a Labour member of the Pontardawe RDC, 1931-45, serving as chairman in 1938-39. He was also a member of the local Board of Guardians. Williams was the Labour MP for Neath from the May 1945 by-election until he retired from parliament at the general election of October 1964. He was a member of the miners' delegation to Russia and also served as secretary to the group of Welsh Labour MPs. He was succeeded as MP for Neath by Donald Coleman. Williams married in 1939 Janet Scott, the daughter of James Alexander. They lived at Delfryn, Penscynor, Neath. He died on 12 September 1972. His papers are in the custody of the South Wales Coalfield Archive, Swansea.


  • Who was who? ;
  • Etholiadau'r Ganrif / Welsh Elections 1885-1997 (Talybont, 1999);
  • Welsh Hustings - 1885-2004 (Ammanford, 2005).


Dr John Graham Jones, Aberystwyth

Published date: 2008