Sir John Williams, 1st Baronet, of the City of London

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For other people of the same name, see Sir John Williams, 1st Baronet (disambiguation).
Sir John Williams

Sir John Williams, 1st Baronet, GCVO (6 November 1840 – 24 May 1926), was a Welsh physician, who attended Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and was raised to the baronetcy by her in 1894. He is remembered chiefly for his contribution to the collection of the National Library of Wales. He resided for part of his life at Plas Llansteffan, a house he acquired by lease.

Education and professional career[edit]

Williams was born in Gwynfe hamlet, Carmarthenshire, the son of a Welsh Congregational minister David Williams (September 1802 – September 1842), who was full younger brother to Morgan Williams (August 1800 – March 1892) who had 11 children as paternal first cousins to Sir John Williams. The young John Williams (1840–1926) went to school in Swansea, then to the University of Glasgow, and finally to University College Hospital, London, to complete his medical studies; among other disbursements on his death he bequeathed two thousand pounds to the University College Hospital, London. In 1872 he married Mary Hughes, but they had no children and neither did the four siblings of John Williams (1840–1926). In 1886, John Williams (1840–1926) became a private doctor to the royal family. As well as his career as an obstetric surgeon in London, he helped set up a Welsh hospital in South Africa during the Boer War, and was involved in the campaign against tuberculosis in his native country.

Contribution to the National Library[edit]

Sir John's leisure hours were largely spent in the acquisition of a large private library, and in 1898, influenced by the palaeographer John Gwenogvryn Evans, he acquired the Peniarth collection of manuscripts. These were donated to the new National Library of Wales when it was built at Aberystwyth. In 1907 he was appointed the first President of the National Library, and two years later he came to live at Aberystwyth. In 1913 he became President of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (now Aberystwyth University). On his death, he bequeathed the remainder of his books, plus a large sum of money, in trust to the National Library, and the other moiety of the residuary estate in trust to the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth (now Aberystwyth University).

Jack the Ripper accusation[edit]

Sir John was accused of the Ripper crimes in a 2005 book, Uncle Jack, written by one of the surgeon's (supposed) descendants, Tony (Michael Anthony) Williams, and co-authored by Humphrey Price.[1] The authors assert that the victims knew the doctor personally and that they were killed and mutilated in an attempt to research the causes of infertility. The book also asserts that a badly blunted surgical knife, which belonged to Sir John Williams, was the murder weapon. [2] Serious doubts were raised about the authors' competence and motivation by other authors.[3]


  1. ^ Williams, Tony; Price, Humphrey (2005). Uncle Jack. London: Orion. ISBN 978-0-7528-6708-3
  2. ^ Thompson, Tony (24 April 2005). "Knife clue could solve mystery of the Ripper". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2007. 
  3. ^ Pegg, Jennifer (October 2005). "Uncle Jack Under the Microscope". Ripper Notes issue #24. Inklings Press. ISBN 0-9759129-5-X.
    * Pegg, Jennifer (January 2006). "'Shocked and Dismayed' – An Update on the Uncle Jack Controversy". Ripper Notes issue #25, pp.54–61. Inklings Press. ISBN 0-9759129-6-8

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Stuart Rendel, Baron Rendel
President of the University College of Wales Aberystwyth
Succeeded by
Edmund Davies, Baron Edmund-Davies