Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Williams, Eliezer

WILLIAMS, ELIEZER (1754–1820), historian and genealogist, eldest son of Peter Williams [q. v.], was born at Llandiveilog, Carmarthenshire, in 1754, and educated in the free grammar school of Carmarthen. About 1770, while he was yet at school, he assisted in preparing for publication his father's ‘Annotations on the Welsh Bible’ and his ‘Welsh Concordance.’ He was matriculated at Jesus College, Oxford, on 3 April 1775, and graduated B.A. in 1778, M.A. in 1781 (Foster, Alumni Oxon.) He became curate of Trelech, and was ordained deacon in 1777; subsequently he accepted the curacy of Tetsworth, Oxfordshire; and in December 1778 he was admitted to priest's orders. Soon afterwards he was chosen second master of the grammar school at Wallingford, Berkshire, and he also undertook the cure of Acton, a village in the neighbourhood. In 1780 he was appointed chaplain of her majesty's ship Cambridge, then under the command of Admiral Keith Stewart, and he became tutor to Lord Garlies (afterwards Earl of Galloway), who was nephew of the admiral and midshipman in the same ship.

After being two or three years at sea he, at the request of Lord Galloway, relinquished his chaplaincy and became tutor in his lordship's family in Galloway House. He was afterwards presented by Lord-chancellor Thurlow to the vicarage of Caio-cum-Llansawel, Carmarthenshire, to which he was instituted on 14 Sept. 1784. Going to London, he became evening lecturer at All Hallows, Lombard Street, and chaplain and private secretary to a gentleman named Blakeney. He assisted in investigating the pedigree of the ancestors of the Earl of Galloway, for the purpose of establishing his lordship's claim to the English peerage, and ultimately his labours were crowned with success. About 1794 he published ‘A Genealogical Account of Lord Galloway's Family,’ and this was followed by three other works, entitled ‘View of the Evidence for Lord Galloway,’ ‘Notes on the State of Evidence respecting the Stewarts of Castlemilk,’ and ‘A Counter Statement of Proofs.’

On the death of his patron in 1799 Williams removed to Chadwell St. Mary's, Essex, of which parish he became the curate; and in addition he held the appointment of chaplain to the garrison of Tilbury fort. Soon afterwards he published anonymously ‘Nautical Odes, or Poetical Sketches, designed to commemorate the Achievements of the British Navy,’ London, 1801, 4to (cf. Anti-Jacobin Review, 1801, ix. 169). On 14 July 1805 he was inducted to the vicarage of Lampeter, Cardiganshire. There he opened a grammar school, whence young men were admitted to holy orders. After superintending this seminary with great success for nearly fourteen years, he died on 20 Jan. 1820.

He married, first, in 1792, Ann Adelaide Grebert (d. 1796), a native of Nancy in Lorraine; secondly, in 1796, Jane Amelia Nugent, daughter of St. George Armstrong of Annaduff, near Drumsna, co. Leitrim (she died on 25 Dec. 1811).

His ‘English Works’ were published in London, 1840, 8vo, with a memoir by his son, St. George Armstrong Williams. These works comprise: 1. ‘Hints to Females in High Life,’ an unfinished poem. 2. ‘An Historical Essay on the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Celtic Tribes, particularly their Marriage Ceremonies.’ 3. ‘An Historical Essay on the Taste, Talents, and Literary Acquisitions of the Druids and the Ancient Celtic Bards.’ 4. ‘Historical Anecdotes relative to the Energy, Beauty, and Melody of the Welsh Language and its Affinity to the Oriental Languages and those of the South of Europe.’ 5. ‘An Inquiry into the Situation of the Gold Mines of the Ancient Britons.’ 6. ‘History of the Britons.’ 7. ‘Account of a Visit to the North of Ireland in 1787.’ 8. ‘Prologues and Epilogues.’

[Memoir by his son; Rowlands's Cambrian Bibliography, p. 515.]

T. C.