Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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WILLIAMS , DAVID ( 1877 - 1927 ), Calvinistic Methodist minister and college tutor ;

b. 4 May 1877 at Holyhead ; son of Eliezer and Elizabeth Williams ; the father (d. 1914 ), a Flintshire man, a carpenter , an elder in his church , was a man widely read in theology , and acquired some knowledge of Greek ; the mother (d. 1923 ) kept a shop . The son went to school at Holyhead , at Beaumaris , and at Oswestry (under Owen Owen , 1850 - 1920 , q.v. ), and thence to University College , Aberystwyth , where he graduated in 1898 with good honours in Greek and also in Latin ; he afterwards went to Jesus College , Oxford (with a scholarship ), and obtained good honours in Classical Moderations, in Lit. Hum. , and in Theology. In 1903 he became pastor (ordained in 1904 ) of Clifton Street C.M. (English) church at Cardiff , but in 1905 was appointed to the church history chair at Trevecka theological college — a chair which he exchanged for the New Testament chair when the college was removed ( 1906 ) to Aberystwyth . In 1916-8 he was a chaplain attached to the Royal Welch Fusileers , and served with them in Egypt and (during severe fighting) in Palestine ; his popularity and influence among the troops have become a legend. Though a most inspiring teacher at Aberystwyth , we are told that he ‘ never settled down to the idea of being a professor , such was his craving for the ministry .’ As a preacher , in Welsh and in English alike, he had acquired a very high reputation throughout Wales (and among the Welsh congregations in America ); competent observers have testified that Thomas Charles Edwards (q.v.) alone in the preceding generation of Welsh preachers resembled him in combining scholarship with intensity of delivery. His theology was modernistic (and provoked some opposition in conservative circles, especially in South Wales ); he has been described as ‘ a young men's man ,’ and again (this time by a writer unconnected with the churches) as ‘ perhaps the only living Welsh preacher who made disciples .’ It was, therefore, not unnatural that when, in 1922 , his connexion set up a pastoral course (no longer in existence) at the old Bala C.M. College , Williams declined the offer of the reversion of the principalship of the Theological College at Aberystwyth , and chose rather to join his friend David Phillips (d. 1951 ) in the new venture. He d., after a long and painful illness, in a London nursing home, on 12 July 1927 , and was buried in Holyhead parish churchyard on the 15th . He had m., in 1905 , Margaret Catherine Owen of Holyhead . who survived him.

His early death had precluded his elevation to the upper ranks of the hierarchy; but he was ‘ Davies Lecturer ’ in 1920 — his lecture, on ‘ The Spiritual Gospel ’ (i.e. the Johannine writings) remains unpublished. He had published commentaries on Galatians and 2 Corinthians , and was one of the company which produced revised Welsh versions of Galatians and James . More important was his participation, as assistant-editor and contributor , in the Geiriadur Beiblaidd ( 1924-6 ) edited by Thomas Rees ( 1869 - 1926 (q.v.) , his chief contributions being the article on Jewish Apocalyptic and the long historica article on Jesus Christ .


  • A collection of memoranda, obituary notices, an commemorative articles, lent by his nephew, Mr. D. Wyn Parry of U.C.N.W.;
  • Blwyddiadur y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , 1928 (by David Phillips ).


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959