Williams was born in Penisarwaun, near Llanrug, and was educated at Brynrefail Grammar school and at Jesus College, Oxford. He took first-class honours in English in 1933, and theology in 1935. He was made a deacon at Michaelmas 1937 (18 September) and ordained priest the following Michaelmas (24 September 1938) — both times by William Havard, Bishop of St Asaph, at St Asaph Cathedral. He served as curate at St Asaph until 1940, when he was appointed chaplain at St David's College, Lampeter. In 1945 he moved to Bangor to take up a post as chaplain and tutor at St. Mary's College, Bangor, and as Lecturer in Theology at the University of Wales, Bangor.
In 1947 he became a Canon of Bangor Cathedral, and in 1948 moved to become headmaster of Llandovery College. He was elected Bishop of Bangor in 1957, consecrated a bishop by John Morgan, Archbishop of Wales and Bishop of Llandaff, at Llandaff Cathedral on 1 May 1957 and installed at Bangor Cathedral the following week. Williams became Archbishop of Wales in 1971, also continuing as Bishop of Bangor until his retirement in 1982.
Williams gained prominence as a member of a deputation of three who challenged Margaret Thatcher in her attempt to reduce the status of the Welsh language. He was influential in the decision to ordain women priests.
- "Ordinations (Archived; subscription only)". Church Times (#3896). 24 September 1937. p. 320. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 26 June 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
- "Ordinations (Archived; subscription only)". Church Times (#3949). 30 September 1938. p. 338. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 26 June 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
- "Welsh primate leaves sick bed to consecrate new bishop (Archived; subscription only)". Church Times (#4916). 3 May 1957. p. 3. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 26 June 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
|Church in Wales titles|
John Charles Jones
| Bishop of Bangor
| Archbishop of Wales