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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Williams, Right Rev. William

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Williams, Right Rev. William, D.C.L., first Bishop of Waiapu, N.Z., was the fourth son of the late Thomas Williams and younger brother of Archdeacon Williams (q.v.). He was born at Nottingham, England, on July 18th, 1800, and was educated at a Moravian school at Fairfield, near Manchester, and at the Southwell Grammar School. He was intended for the medical profession, and was actually articled to a surgeon. He, however, decided to take holy orders, and leaving Southwell in 1822, proceeded to Magdalen Hall, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1824, being ordained deacon and priest the same year. In 1826 he emigrated to New Zealand under the auspices of the Church Missionary Society, having previously further qualified himself for missionary life in the bush by walking the London hospitals, and thus acquiring surgical experience prior to his departure. In association with his brother and the Rev. Robert Maunsell, he was active in obtaining Maori signatures to the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. In 1843 he was appointed Archdeacon of Waiapu by Bishop Selwyn. In Dec. 1850 the University of Oxford conferred on him the honorary degree of D.C.L., and in April 1859 he was consecrated first Bishop of Waiapu, a position which he resigned shortly before his death. Bishop Williams compiled a "Dictionary of the New Zealand Language" (1849, second edition 1858), and wrote "Christianity amongst the New Zealanders" (1867). In 1826 the Bishop translated a portion of Genesis into Maori. In 1844 he revised the Maori Prayer-book in conjunction with Messrs. Maunsell and Puckey. He also, with the help of several coadjutors, revised the Maori Old Testament in 1847 and the New Testament in 1867. Bishop Williams, who married Miss Jane Nelson, died at Napier on March 26th, 1876.