Williams, John (1757-1810) (DNB00)

WILLIAMS, JOHN (1757–1810), lawyer, born at Job's Well, near Carmarthen, on 12 Sept. 1757, was the son of Thomas Williams of that town. He was educated at the grammar school of Carmarthen, matriculated from Jesus College, Oxford, on 19 Feb. 1773, migrated to Wadham College on 29 Sept., and was admitted a scholar on 23 Sept. 1774, graduating B.A. on 17 Oct. 1776 and M.A. on 11 July 1781. He was elected a fellow of Wadham on 30 June 1780. He filled the office of librarian in 1781 and 1782, and of humanity lecturer in 1782, and resigned his fellowship on 30 June 1792. He began his work, the study of law, as a student of the Middle Temple. He became a pupil of (Sir) George Wood [q. v.], at that time well known as a special pleader, and, after successfully practising as a special pleader on his own account, he was called to the bar by the benchers of the Inner Temple on 23 Nov. 1784. He went the Oxford and ‘Old Carmarthen’ circuits, the Oxford ending by arrangement before the ‘Old Carmarthen’ began. On 21 June 1794 he became a serjeant-at-law, and in 1804 a king's serjeant.

In conjunction with Richard Burn [q. v.] Williams brought out the tenth edition of Sir William Blackstone's ‘Commentaries’ (London, 4 vols. 8vo) in 1787, and the eleventh edition in 1791. Between 1799 and 1802 he also prepared the third edition of Sir Edmund Saunders's ‘Reports of Cases and Pleadings in the Court of King's Bench in the Reign of Charles II’ (London, 2 vols. 8vo), adding notes and references. His notes were highly valued and established the fame of the compilation. They ‘contained a lucid and accurate statement of the common law in almost every branch, more particularly as regards pleading.’ They were included in the editions of 1824 and 1845, and were issued separately with additions and an abridgment of the cases in 1871 by his son, Sir Edward Vaughan Williams.

Williams died in London, at Queen's Square, on 27 Sept. 1810. In 1789 he married Mary, eldest daughter of Charles Clarke of Foribridge, near Stafford. By her he had three sons—Charles; Sir Edward Vaughan, who is separately noticed; and John, a colonel in the royal engineers—and three daughters, of whom Mary was married to August Edward Hobart, sixth earl of Buckinghamshire.

[Woolrych's Lives of Eminent Serjeants, 1869, ii. 680–700; Law Mag. 1845, new ser. ii. 305–7; Gent. Mag. 1810, ii. 392; Gardiner's Reg. of Wadham College, 1895, ii. 141; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886.]

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