Daniel Williams (theologian)
|Died||26 January 1716
Hoxton, London, UK
|Based in||Ireland, England and Wales|
- For others of this name, see Daniel Williams (disambiguation).
The Rev Dr Daniel Williams (c.1643 – 26 January 1716) was a British benefactor, minister and theologian, within the Presbyterian tradition, i.e. a Christian outside the Church of England. He is known largely for the legacy he left which led to the creation of Dr Williams's Library, a centre for research on English Dissenters.
Williams was born in Wrexham, Denbighshire, Wales, and was a cousin of Stephen Davies, minister at Banbury. He became a preacher by the age of nineteen: details of his education are unknown, though it was probably cut short by his refusing to conform to the state church, Anglicanism, when Charles II was restored to the throne.
He ministered in Ireland from 1664 to 1687. This posting was a result of his accepting an invitation from the Countess of Meath to be her chaplain. He was a regular preacher to Drogheda's joint Presbyterian–Independent congregation (1664–67) and then became Samuel Marsden's colleague at the congregation at Wood Street, Dublin (1667–87). He acted as a peacemaker amongst the Scottish Presbyterians, fiercely opposed Catholicism and helped to maintain the Presbyterians' union with the other Dissenting congregations in Ireland, as well as exorcising a house by prayer in 1678 (as recounted by Richard Baxter).
On a new outbreak of the Troubles and after being abandoned by Gilbert Rule (a Scottish exile, and Williams' assistant since 1682), Williams left for London in September 1687. There he became an influential Dissenter, becoming friends with the leading ministers Richard Baxter and John Howe and twice being invited to preach before the Lord Mayor of London, the Independent Sir John Shorter. At a meeting at Howe's house in May 1688 as to the making an address of thanks to James II for his Declaration of Indulgence, Williams opposed any such address since (in his words) "it were better for [the Dissenters] to be reduc'd to their former Hardships, than declare for Measures destructive of the Liberties of their Country" and likely to cause an open split with the Church of England. He refused to be convinced to return to Ireland by the Dublin congregation, and spent the rest of his career in London, where he advised William III on Irish matters.
Death and legacy
Williams died in Hoxton, possibly from asthma, and he was buried in a vault at Bunhill Fields. He left almost his whole estate of £50,000 to charity. He left his books (7600 volumes) and money to establish a library, now known as the Dr Williams's Library, situated in Bloomsbury, London. In addition to its theological holdings, it contains collections of philosophy, history, literature, and other donated collections. The library is known to researchers of history and genealogy for its holdings of pre-19th century material relating to Protestant nonconformity in England.
Marriages and issue
Williams married Thomas Juxon's daughter Elizabeth in Ireland in 1675 - she died in 1698, and they had had no children. By his second wife Jane Guill (daughter of a refugee Huguenot merchant), whom he married in 1701, he had one son and two daughters.
- Gordon, Alexander (1900). "Williams, Daniel". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 61. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 385–389.
- Wykes, David L. (October 2009) . "Williams, Daniel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29491. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "Daniel Williams". Welsh Biography Online.
|Presbyterian Church titles|
|Minister of Wood Street Presbyterian Church, Dublin
With: Samuel Marsden, 1667-1677
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (May 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- J. Evans, A funeral sermon occasion'd by the much lamented death of the late Reverend Daniel Williams, D.D. who deceas'd January the 26th 1715/6 (1716). ‘Some account of the life of Dr Williams’, D. Williams, Practical discourses on several important subjects … by the late Reverend Daniel Williams, D.D. Published singly by himself, and now collected by the appointment of his will (1738), page 43
- A history of Presbyterianism in Dublin and the south and west of Ireland, P313
- David L. Wykes, ‘Williams, Daniel (c.1643–1716)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2009, accessed 4 Dec 2016
- Alexander Du Toit, ‘Rule, Gilbert (c.1629–1701)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 4 Dec 2016