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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Williams, Ven. Henry

Williams, Ven. Henry, Archdeacon of Waimate, N.Z. was the third son of Thomas Williams and Mary (Marsh) his wife, and was born at Nottingham, England, in 1792. He entered the royal navy, to which profession his grandfather and three maternal uncles had belonged, in 1806, during the war with France, being commissioned to serve under Sir Joseph Yorke, a friend of his family, first in the Harfleur, and afterwards in several other war-ships. He was one of the volunteers who joined Captain (afterwards Sir Charles) Napier, to co-operate with the army under the command of Lord Wellington; and after that expedition had been countermanded, he joined the Thames under Captain Walpole, and continued in her till the peace. At Copenhagen in 1807 he served both afloat and ashore, working at the land batteries, and was told off for a forlorn hope on the eve of the capitulation. After seeing much farther service at the Cape, the Mauritius, Madras, and Calcutta, until 1815, when he was made lieutenant, he retired on half-pay, which he continued to draw until 1827, when the Admiralty ordered that all officers in holy orders should be struck off the pay list. Having been informed that the Church Missionary Society were about to equip a vessel for the New Zealand station, he offered to take the command. Their intention had already been relinquished, but he was told that he might be received as a missionary. He closed with the proposal, expecting to be employed as a layman, and addressed himself forthwith to preparation for the work. Disastrous news meantime arrived from New Zealand. Intelligence was daily expected in England that the Society's pioneers had been expelled from the country, and that the mission would have to be altogether abandoned. Meanwhile he turned his attention to surgery and medicine, for the practice of which, especially of the former, he found much occasion during his after-career. He also strove to acquire a general knowledge of all crafts likely to be of practical use in an uncivilised country. In 1820 he went to Balder, where he remained until Sept. 1821, when he went to Hampstead. While at Balder he was directed by the Society to remain at least two years longer in England, and to study for ordination. He was ordained both deacon and priest in June 1822. Bad news from New Zealand being again received, the Society offered to change Mr. Williams's scene of labour; but he induced them to permit him to proceed to his former destination. Arriving at Hobart Town, Tasmania, Mr. Williams met that eminent missionary pioneer Samuel Marsden for the first time. Proceeding to Sydney, he lost no time in engaging a passage to New Zealand, landing at the Bay of Islands in August 1823. His first station was at Paihia, a few miles up the harbour, and for upwards of forty-four years he laboured as a missionary in New Zealand. So much was he beloved by the Maoris, whose rights he on many occasions vindicated, that they subscribed the sum of £200 for the erection of a monument to his memory, refusing any contribution from Europeans. Archdeacon Williams died on July 16th, 1867, at Pakaraka, where he was buried. He was appointed to the archidiaconate by Bishop Selwyn in 1844, and fell into disfavour with the Church Missionary Society in 1848 through his refusal to surrender large land purchases which he had made from the natives' In 1850 the Society dismissed him, but in 1854, after conference with Bishop Selwyn and Sir George Grey, they revoked their censure, and requested him to return. Archdeacon Williams, whose life was written by his son-in-law, Hugh Carleton (q.v.), married on Jan. 20th, 1818, Marianne, daughter of Wright Coldham, who survived him, and died at Pakaraka on Dec. 16th, 1879.