Much additional information and clarification have kindly been provided by Dr. David Williams, a descendant of Sir Robert Williams, the 9th Baronet of Penrhyn.
The Williams family had their origins in the Welsh town of Conwy or Conway (now in the County Borough of Conwy), and in particular, in Pen-yr-allt, which is just beyond Conway on the North Wales coast. Pen-yr-allt is believed to have been the birthplace of the merchant tailor, Roger Williams, and was given to him on the death of his father, Sir Griffith Williams, the 1st Baronet. I've decided to use the Anglicised spellings of Welsh names and places.
Sir Griffith Williams, 1st Baronet of Penrhyn, and Gwen Bodwrda:
Sir Griffith Williams, the son of Robert Williams of Conway and of Elizabeth Griffith, inherited Penrhyn from his unmarried uncle, who died intestate in 1650, Archbishop John Williams of York, who had earlier purchased both Cochwillan, the seat of his ancestors, and Penrhyn, the seat of the Griffiths family. Sir Griffiths Williams later erected a memorial for the Archbishop in the parish church of Llandegai near Bangor.
(An interesting aside - the Williams family of Cochwillan, the Williams of Meillionydd, the Williams-Bulkeley family of Penrhyn and the Griffiths family of Penrhyn (amongst other North Wales families) descend directly from a Welsh nobleman named Sir Tudor ap Ednyfed Vychan who was married to Adlais, the granddaughter of Griffith ap Cynan, the King of North Wales.
This Ednyfed Vychan later married a second woman, Gwenllian, the daughter of Rhys ap Griffith, a Lord of South Wales. Their grandson was Tudor ap Grono of Penmynedd, who built the priory at Bangor and did homage for his lands to Edward I at Chester.
Tudor's great-great- grandson, Sir Owen Tudor, married Catherine de Valois, the youngest daughter of Charles VI, the King of France. Catherine was the widow of Henry V of England, and the mother of Henry VI.
Catherine and Sir Owen Tudor, who was beheaded in 1461 for his role in the Wars of the Roses, had a son, Edmund Tudor, who was created the Earl of Richmond in 1452 by Henry VI. Edmund married Lady Margaret Beaufort, the daughter and heir of John, Duke of Somerset and died in 1456, leaving an only son, Henry VII who was the King of England and the founder of the royal house of Tudor.)
Sir Griffith Williams (circa 1603 - 1663) married Gwen Bodurda (other spellings -Bodwrda/Bodwrdda) of Bodwrda near Aberdaron, in the modern County of Gwynedd, about 50 miles south of Conwy - she was the daughter of Hugh Dodwrda Esq.
Griffith Williams was created a baronet in 1658 by Cromwell and by Charles II on 17th June 1661.
Gwen Williams gave birth to 19 children; the baptisms of some of them appear in the Conway Parish Register which has been published to the internet on Google Books.
1627 - 'Elin Wys filia Gruffin Wys et Gwen mater eius undecimo Octobris.'
1629 - 'Dorithe Willms the daughter of Gruffith Willms and Gwen for mother the 29 of ffebr 1629.'
1632 - 'Katherine Wyms the daughter of Gruff Wyms and Gwen her mother the xxii Januarie/.'
1639 - 'William and Gruffith the sonnes of Gruff:Williams, gent., by Gwen Bodwrda, his wife, were baptised the 6th day of Aprille 1639.'
1640 - Gaynor duur to Gr Williams gen. et Gwen his (sic) mother xviiii u 1640.'
The baptism of the couple's son, Roger Williams, from whom our Irish branch of this family descends, was recorded in 1645 - 'Roger Wms the son of Gruff. Wms the 24 Junii.'
Other children were the eldest son, Sir Robert Williams, later the 2nd baronet; Hugh Williams, born in 1628, who became Sir Hugh Williams, the 5th Baronet of Penrhyn; Edmund, date unclear; John Williams, born 1643; a daughter Grace, born circa 1653 - 1658, and Elizabeth, date unknown.
At the time of Sir Griffith William's death in 1663, there were only five sons still living - Robert, Hugh, Edmund, John and our Roger Williams.
Gwen, the widow of Sir Griffith Williams, died in 1674, and the burial was recorded in the Conway Parish Register - 'Domine Gwenna Williams uxor Griggi: Williams Barti 12 Novembris.'
Roger Williams (1645 - 1705) and Mary Curtiss:
Upon the death of his father in 1663, Roger Williams, the fifth son, inherited the family property of Pen-yr-allt near Conway, along with the neighbouring Tal-y-cafn ferry. These were inherited later by Roger's own son, rev. Griffith Williams, the Rector of North Runcton in Norfolk, who passed them on to his only child, Mary Williams; she sold the ferry to her relation, Sir Hugh Williams, the 8th Baronet, who was the grandson of Roger Williams' older brother, Edmund Williams of Eirianws.
(Tal-y-cafn means 'place opposite the ferry-boat'; there had been a ferry here since about 1301, which provided a crossing-point for the River Conwy.)
Roger Williams of Fleet Street was a merchant tailor being admitted to livery in London on 16th October 1674 (his master being William Saunders) and to freedom on 29 July 1668. He was removed from livery by warrant of King James II dated 17 February 1687 - in this year James II wished to pack Parliament with his supporters so that he could repeal the penal laws against Catholics; he therefore carried out a purge of those opposed to his plan, including 1000 members of the City of London livery companies who were ejected forthwith.
From The Merchant Taylor’s Membership Index:
Roger Williams, freedom 29/07/1668. His master was William Saunders. Livery: 16/10/1674. Comments: ‘Was removed from Livery by Order of James II dated 17th February 1687.
Roger Williams was paid £105 by the Treasury for the supply of uniforms to the Duke of Monmouth's Regiment of Foot in 1686.
A contributor to the LDS website, J.W. Renaud, has provided the following information on Roger Williams, merchant tailor of London:
'Roger Williams of Penyralt (sp?) was the fifth son . He was an officer in customs and a woolen draper in Fleet St. He invented a scarlet dye and had the contract to supply military uniforms.
Roger Williams died in 1705.'
The claim that Roger Williams was a customs officer seems to be incorrect - there were several other Roger Williams in London at this time - but the Whitehall records support the fact that he was involved in the woollen trade:
Nov. 2 1676: 'The Lord Treasurer directs that Mr. Henry Browne, Mr. Roger Williams, Mr. John Gore and Mr. Philip Coleby be paid 1,094l. 6s. 11d. presently out of money in Mr. Stephens's hands being a third part of what is due to them for clothes forwarded for the soldiers going to Virginia, upon which payment they are to deliver the whole quantity of cloths provided and are to receive the remainder of their money by two equal payments, the first to be a month from this day and the other a month after that. Further 58l. 6s. 8d. for contingencies is to be immediately paid to Col. Jeffreys by Mr. Stephens.'
Dr. David Williams has also recently discovered that Roger Williams, who was actually a woolen merchant, as opposed to a merchant tailor, was declared bankrupt in 1689/1690, along with his business partner, Morgan Whitley. Roger had also loaned money to his bankrupt brother-in-law, Cadwaladr Wynn, which added further to his disgrace at the time. His partner, Morgan Whitley, was the Receiver General of North Wales, whose huge debts to the Treasury nearly ruined several prominent North Wales and Cheshire families, who had stood surety for him on his appointment.
Roger Williams married Mary the daughter of Norton Curtis Esq., of Morden in Surrey, just south of London. They married in 1674, the same year that Roger was admitted to the Merchant Taylors guild. The registers for the parish church of Morden have been published to the internet and show up the marriage entry for Roger and Mary:
'Roger Williams of St. Bride, London, widower, and Mary Curtis, spinster, about 25, who consents - at Morden, Battersea or Lambeth, Co. Surrey, 15th June 1674.'
(Also from the Morden Registers: George, son of Norton Curteise and Mary, was baptised 1673; William, son of Norton and Mary, was baptised 3rd. February 1677; Edward was baptised 8th December 1679; Norton Curteis, gentleman, died 1700.)
The children of Roger and Mary Williams were -
- Rev. Griffith Williams, baptised 8th July 1675, Church of St. Bride, Fleet Street, London. Died 1718, North Runcton, Norfolk.
- William Williams, baptised 26th July 1677, Church of St. Bride, Fleet Street, London. ( We are said to descend from William Williams, who was the father of Richard of Leighton Buzzard.).
- Mary Williams, born circa 1679. She was mentioned in the 1701 will of her father's sister-in-law, Dame Frances Williams.
- Ann Williams, baptised 8th April 1681, Church of St. Bride, Fleet Street, London. Her uncle, Norton Curteis the Younger, in 1707/8, left her a legacy of £10 in his will.
- Gwen Williams, baptised 26th April 1682, Church of St. Bride, Fleet Street, London.
- Frances Williams, born circa 1684. She was also mentioned in the 1707/8 will of her uncle Norton Curteis.
- John Williams, born circa 1686. Also mentioned in the will of Norton Curteis.
- Roger Williams of Blackfriars or Shoreditch, London – born 1679. Only some pedigrees include Roger as a son of Roger Williams, so a question mark hangs over this individual.
Dr. David Williams passed on plenty of information on Roger's eldest son, Rev. Griffith Williams.
The admissions records for Trinity,Cambridge show up information for the Rev. Griffith Williams, son of Roger Williams:
Entered: 1693; Adm. pens. (age 18) at TRINITY, June 28, 1693. S. of Roger. B. in London. School, Westminster. Matric. 1693; Scholar, 1694; B.A. 1696-7; M.A. 1700; B.D. 1708. Fellow, 1699. Ord. deacon (Lincoln) Mar. 12, 1703-4; priest (Ely) May 19, 1706. R. of North Runcton, Norfolk, 1715-8. Died Jan. 8, 1718.
Rev. Griffith Williams was ordained as a deacon on 12th March 1704 by the Bishop of Lincoln, James Gardiner; on 19th May 1706, he was ordained as a priest by Simon Patrick, the Bishop of Ely, and was appointed as Rector to the parish of North Runcton in Norfolk on 18th April 1712 by Charles Trimmell, the Bishop of Norwich.
He married Ann Purland who had been born May 19, 1698, and who was only 19 when her husband died in 1718. She had a young daughter, Mary Williams (born circa 1716/1717), who inherited the family estate of Pen-yr-allt and the Tal-y-cafn ferry from her father.
The widowed Mary Williams, née Purland, went on to marry Griffith William's successor, Rev. Edward Rud, whose diary has been published to the net. The following passages describe his courtship of Ann Williams, at the house of her parents, Rev. Robert Purland, Vicar of East Walton and Vicar of Southacre, and Ursula Purland:
' (1719) May 14, when I went back to North-Rungton to lodge at Mrs. Williams’ house there: where I was received with such exceeding great civility and respect, especially by the Father and Mother, but I could not but suppose there was a meaning in it; and therefor soon began to proceed accordingly. The young widow was born May 19, 1698. I began to open a little May 18 being Whitsun-Monday.
(1719) May 30. The young widow gave me a sort of promise that she would marry me; but June 5, we were formally contracted in verbis de præsenti, before her mother.
(1720) Jan. 20. I was marry’d at Walton to Mrs. Ann Williams, my Predecessor’s widow, by Mr. James Everard, Vicar of Middleton.'
Dr. David Williams came across an interesting connection here. Ann Purland's father, Rev. Robert Purland, had been appointed to the post of Vicar of East Walton by Sir William Barkham, 2nd Baronet of Southacre Hall. The 1st Baronet of Southacre was Sir Edward Barkham, whose daughter, Frances Barkham, was the second wife of Sir Robert Williams, the 2nd Baronet of Penrhyn. Sir Robert Williams was, of course, the uncle of Rev. Griffith Williams.
Rev. Griffith Williams was commemorated with a plaque in the parish church of North Runcton: ' Gules, a chevron ermine between three Saracens’ heads, couped at the shoulders, in profile (Williams); impaling five wings in saltire, or (Purland), for “Rev. Griffith Williams S.T.B., Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Rector of this Church, who died Jan. 8, 1718”.
His daughter and heiress, Mary, was under guardianship of Thomas Peirson of North Runcton; he made his will there in 1731. A deed exists in the UK National Archives which mentions them both, also alludes to the Williams' Conway properties:
'Conveyed to Thomas Wright by his mother on his marriage 1641 and passed via John Elgar to John and Elizabeth Exton in 1695. With receipt from Thomas Peirson, guardian of Mary Williams, for deeds of Gryffith Williams' estates in Caernarvonshire and North Runcton 1732. Bundle also includes conveyance of a close of 5a in N. Runcton abutting Townesend Lane and Broadgate Way by trustees to Richard Holden 1658; and fine between Sir Snelling Thomas querent and Elizabeth Jefferyes and Henry and Anne Parr deforcients concerning messuage, orchard and land in North Runcton, Terrington St. Clement and Tilney, 1720.)'
Mary Williams was still living in 1764, but her date of death is unknown.
Richard Williams and Mary Hutchins of Leighton Buzzard:
Richard Williams was believed to be the son of William Williams, the third son of Roger Williams of Fleet St. and Conway, North Wales. He had been born on 17th July 1719 in Carnarvon County - this information was provided by a later ancestor, Richard Palmer Williams, who did research in the 1860's into this. The place of birth may not be accurate, given that his branch of the family had already settled in London. The names Richard and Thomas enter the Williams family at this point,
Richard Williams, by his coat of arms, handed down on his seal — viz. crest: a Saracen's head erased; the arms: gules, a chevron ermine, between three Saxons' heads couped; quarterly, with gules, a chevron argent between three stags' heads cabossed; motto: "Heb Dduw heb ddim, Duw a digon," shows him to have been of the ancient family of Williams of Penrhyn, Cochwillan, and Meillionydd, co. Carnarvon.
Dr. David Williams recently provided me with excellent explanatory information on his family coat of arms and motto: 'The heads are often described as “Saracen’s heads” or “Saxons’ Heads”, which is incorrect; they are more properly three “Englishmen’s heads”, and in Welsh Y Pen Sais (The Englishman’s Head) is the crest without the armorial bearings. The crest above the shield is a stag’s head. The motto Heb Dduw heb ddim, Duw a digon is usually rendered as Without God nothing, with God everything.
The legend is that our ancestor Ednyfed Fychan (d.1246), seneschal to the princes of Gwynedd, slew three Englishmen at the battle of Chester c.1210 and laid their severed heads at the feet of prince Llywelyn II ab Iorwerth. But the severed head goes back to ancient British times, and is said to have been the emblem of his 9th century ancestor Marchudd ap Cynan. There are several variants among some of the North Wales families.'
Richard Williams married Mary Hutchins in the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Whipsnade, Bedford (near Leighton Buzzard) on 9th April 1740. Mary Hutchins had been born on February 18th 1713 and was baptised on 25th February 1714. It had been suggested that she may have been the daughter of Sir George Hutchins, a prominent English lawyer who had been the Keeper of The Great Seal and who died in 1705, but clearly the dates don't add up for this to be possible. (I've done research into Sir George and his family and failed to find a convincing connection.) She was actually the daughter of John Hutchins (1687 - 1730) and Elizabeth Draper of Leighton Buzzard - the births of several of their children appear on the LDS website; there were nine of them in total.
The children of Richard and Mary Williams of Leighton Buzzard were as follows:
- Hutchins Williams, born 26th December 1740 in Leighton Buzzard.
- John Williams born 29th September 1742 in Leighton Buzzard.
- William Williams born 31st March 1746 in Leighton Buzzard.
- Thomas Williams born 30th December 1747 in Leighton Buzzard. Later the first Secretary of the Bank of Ireland.
- Richard Williams born 29th December 1749 in Leighton Buzzard.
- Mary Williams born 12th September 1751 in Leighton Buzzard.
- Watkin William Williams born 28th December 1753 in Leighton Buzzard.
- Watkin Win Williams born 1761 in Leighton Buzzard.
Hutchins Williams, the oldest son, was the father of John Jeffery Williams of Grays Inn, Holborn. John Jeffery Williams was the father of John Dignan Williams, William Williams, Thomas Hutchins Williams/Hutchins ThomasWilliams, Mary Williams, Sarah Williams, Henry Williams and possibly our great-great grandfather, Richard Williams of 17 Eden Quay, although this last link is entirely unproven and is currently mere speculation on my part.
Thomas Williams, the fourth son of Richard Williams and Mary Hutchins of Leighton Buzzard, moved to Dublin where he seems to have worked for a time in the textile industry before entering the bank - a Dublin deed involving him was witnessed in 1782 by a Watkin Wynn Williams, who must have been the youngest son of Richard Williams and Mary Hutchins of Leighton Buzzard. (Watkin Wynn Williams is not a common name in Ireland!)
Thomas Williams' nephew, or possibly his grand-nephew, William Williams, was admitted as a merchant to the Freedom of Dublin in 1817 - this was the son of one of his brothers. It is known that his older brother, Hutchins Williams of Hillingden, had a son, William, who had been born in 1774 in Hillingden. Given the recycling of family names at that time, however, all of Thomas Williams' brothers probably had a son named William.
Richard Williams, son of Thomas Williams of the Bank of Ireland, worked as an attorney on Dame Street. From Hazel Smyth's 'Some Notes on Charles Wye Williams':
'The Williams family had a burial place in St. Andrew's Church. This Church was rebuilt in 1793 and re-opened in 1807. It was re-built again in 1862, following a fire, as a result of which Richard acquired a vault in Mount Jerome on which is inscribed: "Richard Williams descended from Griffith Williams, 1st Baronet Penrhyn (1661)."
Charles Wye Williams, son of Thomas Williams of the Bank of Ireland:
Footnote: It seems that the Williams of Dublin were well aware of their Welsh heritage. In 'The Welsh Book-Plates in the Collection of Sir Evan Davies Jones, Bart., MP. of Pentower, Fishguard', books belonging to the family appear in his collection:
'Rich. Palmer Williams. Spade Arm. Welsh motto. Same plate with name added.
Hutchins Williams,. Early XIXth Cent. Arm. Welsh motto.
Charles Wye Williams Esqr. Early XIXth cent. Arm.
Richard Williams Esq./Drumcondra Castle. Early XIXth cent. Arm.'
I will add to this post as I discover more. The following link leads to the Index of Williams posts: