George Williams (YMCA)

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George Williams
A plaque for George Williams 13-16 Russell Square.

Sir George Williams (11 October 1821 – 6 November 1905) was the founder of the YMCA.

Williams was born on a farm in Dulverton, Somerset, England. [1] As a young man, he described himself as a "careless, thoughtless, godless, swearing young fellow". After an accident, his family sent him to Bridgwater to be an apprentice at a draper's shop. In 1837, Williams was converted. He went to the Zion Congregational Church and became an involved member.[2]

In 1841, he went to London and worked again in a draper's shop. After three years, in 1844, was promoted to department manager. He married the boss’s daughter, Helen Jane Maunder Hitchcock in 1853. Williams became a member of the Weigh House Congregational Church and used his time for evangelization.

Appalled by the terrible conditions in London for young working men, he gathered a group of his fellow drapers together to create a place that would not tempt young men into sin. That place was the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), which he founded on June 6, 1844.[3] One of the earliest converts and contributors to the new association was George's employer, George Hitchcock.

Williams was knighted by Queen Victoria in her 1894 Birthday Honours. After his death in 1905, he was commemorated by a stained-glass window in the nave of Westminster Abbey. Sir George Williams is buried in St Paul's Cathedral.


  1. ^ "YMCA Somerset Coast website". August 22, 2015. Retrieved August 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ Rene Bester, YMCA Nelson, History & More, New Zealand, 2009, page 10
  3. ^ "My Dear Home, I Love You, You're a House for Each of Us and Home for All of Us". World Digital Library. 1918. Retrieved October 26, 2013. 


  • Binfield, Clyde George Williams and the Y.M.C.A.: a Study in Victorian Social Attitudes 1973 London, Heinemann ISBN 0-434-07090-4