William Williams (bishop)

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William Williams
William Williams
Born (1800-07-18)18 July 1800
Nottingham, England
Died 9 February 1878(1878-02-09) (aged 77)
Napier, New Zealand
Nationality British
Other names Parata (brother)[1]
Pihopa (bishop)[2]
Occupation Missionary
Spouse(s) Jane Williams (née Nelson)
Relatives The Rev. Henry Williams (brother)
The Rev. Leonard Williams (son)
The Rev. Herbert Williams (grandson)
To be distinguished from William Williams (missionary) (1859–1892) in Khasi Hills India

William Williams (18 July 1800 – 9 February 1878) was the first Anglican Bishop of Waiapu and the father and grandfather of two others.[3] Williams was consecrated as the Bishop of Waiapu on 3 April 1859 at the meeting of the General Synod at Wellington.[4]

Williams led the Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionaries in translating the Bible into Māori and he also published an early dictionary and grammar of the Māori language.

Early life[edit]

Williams was born in Nottingham to Thomas and Mary Williams on 18 July 1800. His paternal grandfather was the Reverend Thomas Williams (1725–1770), a Congregational minister at the Independent Chapel of Gosport.[5][6][7]

After the death of William's father in 1804, his mother moved with her younger children to Southwell, Nottinghamshire where she opened a school for young girls.[8] William Williams was educated at Moravian school, Fairfield, Manchester then at Southwell Grammar School under the Revd E. Footit.[9]

Williams completed an apprenticeship to a Mr Forster, a Southwell surgeon.[8]

Williams was influenced by the Rev. Edward Garrard Marsh to become an Anglican in February 1818 and then to join the Church Missionary Society (CMS).[7]

William entered Magdalen Hall (later Hertford College, Oxford), in 1822, as a prospective CMS trainee. He left Oxford in 1824 with a BA in classics. On 26 September 1824 he was ordained as a deacon of the (Anglican) Church of England. In 1825 he entered the Church Missionary Society College, Islington with the intention of following his brother, Henry, to New Zealand.[10]

On 11 July 1825, Williams married Jane Nelson of Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, a teacher at his mother's school.[8] On 12 August they embarked on the Sir George Osborne to sail to Sydney, Australia, then on to Paihia, Bay of Islands, where they arrived on 25 March 1826.[11]

Williams and his wife had nine children:[12]

  • Mary, born 12 April 1826; married Samuel Williams[13]
  • Jane Elizabeth, born 23 October 1827; married Henry Williams, Jr.[14]
  • William Leonard, born 22 July 1829[15][16]
  • Thomas Sydney, born 9 February 1831
  • James Nelson, born 22 August 1837
  • Anna Maria, born 25 February 1839[17]
  • Lydia Catherine, born 7 April 1841
  • Marianna, born 22 August 1843
  • Emma Caroline, born 20 February 1846

Williams' third child and eldest son, Leonard, after completing his university education at the University of Oxford then being ordained, worked with Williams in the Waiapu diocese. In 1862 Leonard Williams was appointed to be Archdeacon of Waiapu.[18] In 1895 Leonard Williams became the third Bishop of Waiapu.[19]

Paihia Mission and the translation of the Bible into Māori[edit]

On his arrival in Paihia, Williams became a teacher of the boys at the school for children of CMS families.[20]

Williams had a talent for the study of the Māori language and worked with his brother Henry on translating the Bible into Māori.[21] After 1826 he took over responsibility for leading the CMS missionaries in further translation of the Bible and other Christian literature. In July 1827 the first Māori Bible was printed comprising three chapters of Genesis, the 20th chapter of Exodus, the first chapter of the Gospel of St John, 30 verses of the 5th chapter of the Gospel of St Matthew, the Lord's Prayer and some hymns.[22][23] In 1833 further parts of the Maori Bible were published. The Church Missionary Press was established in Paihia.[24]

After 1844 the Rev. Robert Maunsell also worked with Williams on the translation of the Bible.[25] Williams concentrated on the New Testament and Maunsell worked on the Old Testament, portions of which were published in 1840 with the full translation completed in 1857.[20][26] William Gilbert Puckey also collaborated with Williams on the translation of the New Testament, which was published in 1837 and its revision in 1844.[20]

Williams published the Dictionary of the New Zealand Language and a Concise Grammar in 1844.[20]

Journeys to the East Cape, Thames and Waikato[edit]

In April 1833, seven Ngāti Porou men and five women arrived in the Bay of Island on the whaler Elizabeth. They had been made prisoner when the captain of the whaler left Waiapu, (the locality of the present day town of Ruatoria), after a confrontation with the Ngāti Porou. In the Bay of Islands they were delivered to Ngāpuhi chiefs to become slaves. Williams, his brother Henry and Alfred Nesbit Brown persuaded the Ngāpuhi to give up the slaves. An attempt was made to return them on the schooner Active although a gale defeated that attempt. They returned to the Bay of Islands, where they received religious instruction, until the following summer.[27]

In January 1834 the schooner Fortitude carried the timber frame for a house, so that James Preece, his wife and John Morgan could establish the Puriri mission. The Fortitude then carried William Williams, William Yate and the Ngāti Porou to the East Cape.[27] Between July and November 1834 he and Alfred Nesbit Brown walked through the Thames and Waikato regions. In January 1838, he walked from East Cape to Tūranga, Poverty Bay with William Colenso, Richard Matthews and James Stack. William returned to the East Coast with Richard Taylor from March to May 1839. These journeys convinced William of the need to establish a CMS mission on the East Coast in the Gisborne area.[10][28] During these journeys William found that Māori Christian teachers had started a school at Rangitukia and a chapel at Whakawhitirā.[29] He chose land for a house at the Ngāti Kaipoho pā of Umukapua, near Tūranga.[29]

Waimate Mission[edit]

In 1835 Williams, his wife and their children move to Te Waimate mission.[30] On 23 and 24 December 1835 Charles Darwin visited while HMS Beagle spent 10 days in the Bay of Islands.[31][32] However, following the publication of On the Origin of Species, Williams described Darwinism as a denial of “the work of an almighty creator”.[33]

Tūranga, Poverty Bay Mission[edit]

Williams and his family arrived at Tūranga, Poverty Bay on 20 January 1840.[34] The first mission station was built on the banks of the Waipaoa River and was named Kaupapa (to plan; first stage or step)[35] Williams lived in Tūranga until 1850. The schools run by William and Jane were well attended, the school opened with five classes for men, two classes for women and classes for boys. Classes covered practical knowledge as well as the teaching of the scriptures.[35] By 1 July 1841, 622 adults had been baptised with about 1,300 also receiving instruction towards baptism.[36]

James Stack, had been a Wesleyan missionary at Whangaroa; then later joined the Church Missionary Society. In 1839 James Stack and his wife Mary joined William Williams at the mission station at Tūranga and later set up a mission at Rangitukia (1842–1847).[20] By 1840 there were about 20 Māori religious teachers in the East Cape and Poverty Bay districts.[37]

During this time the first Anglican bishop of New Zealand, George Augustus Selwyn, appointed Williams as Archdeacon of the East Cape diocese on 27 November 1842 and, on 3 April 1859, Williams became the first Bishop of Waiapu, basing his diocese at Waerenga-ā-Hika, Poverty Bay.[4] The CMS missionaries appointed to Waiapu included: George Adam Kissling and Margaret Kissling at Kawakawa (Hicks Bay) from 1843 to 1846;[38] Charles and Hannah Baker at Uawa (Tolaga Bay) from 1843 to 1851; James and Elizabeth Hamlin at Wairoa from 1844; William and Elizabeth Colenso at Waitangi (Ahuriri, Napier) from 1844, until William Colenso was removed in 1852;[39] and Thomas Samuel Grace (Tūranga 1850 to 1853).[29]

Williams attempted to limit the acquisition of land by the New Zealand Association.[29] In a letter to Edward Garrard Marsh of 8 January 1840 Williams explained his plans to follow his brother Henry's lead in acquiring land to hold in ‘trust’ for the benefit of the Māori from whom the land had been purchased: "In proceeding to Turanga it is my intention to buy as much land as may suffice for the inhabitants, and I also hope to take the same step at Waiapu and Wairoa, & then I will set the association at defiance."[40] However this attempt was thwarted by Governor Gipps' proclamation of 14 January 1840, which annulled the trust deed that conveyed title over the Tūranga land;[41] at this time the commission of the Governor of the colony of New South Wales extended to any land that might be acquired in New Zealand.

In 1850 Williams and his family left for England, where he was involved the successful representations to have his brother Henry restored to membership of the Church Missionary Society – Henry having been dismissed from the CMS as a consequence of his refusal to follow the orders of Bishop Selwyn to give up land that Henry had acquired at Pakaraka.

Williams returned to Waerenga-ā-Hika and lived there from 1853 to 1865.[29] After arriving back from England Williams and his son Leonard recognised the need to train Māori clergy to replace departing CMS missionaries.[42] Leonard was the principal of the training school. By 1865 there were 14 clergymen in the Waiapu diocese – 6 European and 8 Māori.[43]

Treaty of Waitangi – te Tiriti[edit]

Following the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (te Tiriti), Henry Williams arrived in Poverty Bay on 8 April 1840 on the ship Ariel with a Māori-language copy of te Tiriti ('Tūranga Treaty copy'). Between 5 May and 9 June 1840, William Williams, presented the Tūranga Treaty copy to rangatira at Tūranga, Uawa, Wakawitirā, Rangitukia and Tokomaru so that those East Coast chiefs could sign; 41 signatures appear on the Tūranga Treaty copy, a number of important rangatira refused to sign, including Te Kani a Takirau of Uawa and Iharaira Te Houkamau of East Cape.[29][44]

In 1847 Williams published a pamphlet that defended the role of the Church Missionary Society in the years leading up to the signing of the Treaty and in relation to the war in the north that was started by Hōne Heke.[45] Williams took a literal interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi. In June 1861 he wrote to Governor Thomas Gore Browne and criticised “the pernicious habit” of Land Commissioners getting one or two people to sign contracts for the sale of land without consulting the whole tribe.[46] Williams recognised that both the Land League of Taranaki[47] and the King movement or Kīngitanga of Waikato reflected a genuine unease among the Māori as to the manner in which the government was purchasing land.[46][48]

Pai Mārire (Hauhau)[edit]

The First Taranaki War, from March 1860 until 1862 resulted in the East Cape and Poverty Bay area became increasingly unsettled. A ‘repudiationist’ movement developed in Poverty Bay. The Ngāti Kaipoho chief Raharuhi told Governor Thomas Gore Browne that the Māori did not recognise Queen Victoria’s claim to rule over them and that the lands which the settlers in Poverty Bay had obtained should be returned.[49]

The Pai Mārire (Hauhau) moved into Poverty Bay in March 1865. The Poverty Bay Māori were neither for nor against the Hauhau. While the Rongowhakaata iwi defended the mission, Williams lost confidence in the security of the mission when some chiefs provided support for the Hauhau.[50] There were rumours that the Hauhau intended to incite the Poverty Bay Māori to some act of violence against Bishop Williams so as to force them into joining the Hauhau movement.[50] On 31 March 1865 William and Jane Williams and their daughters went to Napier on the steamer St Kilda. However Leonard remained at the mission.[50]

Williams returned to Paihia where he established a Māori missionary training school at Horotutu.[10][51]

The mission at Waerenga-a-hika became a battle ground and the buildings were destroyed. After the Hauhau were defeated the Māori in the Poverty Bay had a much reduced support for the Christian faith, although it was sustained where there were CMS missionaries and Māori clergymen.[52]

Hawkes Bay Mission[edit]

Hawkes Bay was added to the Waiapu diocese and William and Jane Williams moved to Napier in May 1867. Samuel Williams,[53] his nephew and son-in-law, formed the Te Aute estate. Williams supported his nephew in establishing a school for Māori boys on the Te Aute estate and Te Aute College opened in 1854. Williams also supported his daughters in establishing a school for Māori girls. In July 1875 Hukarere Native School for Girls, which became the Hukarere Girls' College, was established in Napier.[54] Williams also worked to establish the Napier Boys' High School.[54]

Williams was consecrated as the Bishop of Waiapu on 3 April 1859 at the meeting of the General Synod at Wellington.[4] Williams continued as bishop until he had a stroke in 1876, as a consequence he resigned from his office as bishop. He died in Napier on 9 February 1878.[28][55]

Religious titles
New title Bishop of Waiapu
Succeeded by
Edward Craig Stuart


  • Dictionary of the New Zealand Language and a Concise Grammar (1844)
  • Plain Facts relative to the Late War in the Northern District of New Zealand (1847) Online available from State Library of Victoria, Australia
  • Letters to the Rt Hon. the Earl of Chichester (1851) Online available from ENZB.
  • Christianity among the New Zealanders (1867) Online available from Archive.org.

Literature and sources[edit]


  1. ^ Journal of Marianne Williams, 16 January 1845, quoted by Hugh Carleton, The Life of Henry Williams (1874) p. 95.
  2. ^ Buller, James (1878). Forty years in New Zealand - Part III. Christianization - Chapter III. Henry Williams. ENZB. p. 279. 
  3. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). 
  4. ^ a b c Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 586. 
  5. ^ "Williams, Thomas (?-c.1770)". Dr Williams’s Centre for Dissenting Studies. 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Daniels, Eilir (2010). "Research Report: Rev. Thomas Williams, Gosport, Hampshire (1724/25-1770)". Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Harvey-Williams, Nevil (March 2011). "The Williams Family in the 18th and 19th Centuries - Part 1". Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Harvey-Williams, Nevil (March 2011). "The Williams Family in the 18th and 19th Centuries - Part 3". Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  9. ^ "Blain Biographical Directory of Anglican clergy in the South Pacific" (PDF). 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c Porter, Francis (1 September 2010). "Williams, William 1800–1878". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Fitzgerald, Caroline (2004). Marianne Williams: Letters from the Bay of Islands. Penguin Books, New Zealand. p. 103. ISBN 0-14-301929-5. 
  12. ^ "Rev. William Williams family". Pre 1839 foreigners in NZ. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  13. ^ Boyd, Mary (1 September 2010). "Williams, Samuel - Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 17 March 2012. 
  14. ^ Cyclopedia Company Limited (1902). "The Hon. Henry Williams". The Cyclopedia of New Zealand : Auckland Provincial District. Christchurch: The Cyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  15. ^ Porter, Francis (30 October 2012). "Williams, William Leonard". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  16. ^ NTETC
  17. ^ Flashoff, Ruth (30 October 2012). "Williams, Anna Maria". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  18. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 588. 
  19. ^ 'Williams, William', from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock, originally published in 1966. Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, accessed 9 January 2007
  20. ^ a b c d e Rogers, Lawrence M. (1973). Te Wiremu: A Biography of Henry Williams. Pegasus Press. 
  21. ^ Journal of Henry Williams, 12 July 1826.
  22. ^ Gillies 1995, p. 48
  23. ^ Rogers 1973, p. 25, f/n, p. 70
  24. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, December 1844". The Bible in New Zealand. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 13 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  25. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 44. 
  26. ^ Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2008 (10 November 1858). "Untitled article on Maori Bible translation". The Church Journal, New-York. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  27. ^ a b Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 55. 
  28. ^ a b Evans, Rex D. (compiler) (1992) – Faith and farming Te huarahi ki te ora; The Legacy of Henry Williams and William Williams, Evagean Publishing
  29. ^ a b c d e f Derby, Mark (July 2007). "Wai 900 – East Coast inquiry, 'Undisturbed Possession' – Te Tiriti o Waitangi and East Coast Māori 1840 – 1865 (Scoping Report)" (PDF). Ruawaipu. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 
  30. ^ Bedggood, W.E. (1971). Brief History of St John Baptist Church Te Waimate. News, Kaikohe. 
  31. ^ Charles Darwin, Journal of a Voyage Round the World, 1831–36
  32. ^ Fitzgerald, Caroline (2004) Letters from the Bay of Islands p. 219-230
  33. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 609. 
  34. ^ Williams, William. "The Church Missionary Gleaner, April 1841". Formation of a Church Mission at Turanga, or Poverty Bay, New Zealand. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 9 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  35. ^ a b Fowler, Leo (1974). Te Mana o Turanga. Penrose Printing / N.Z. Historic Places Trust. p. 1 & 4. 
  36. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, July 1842". Progress of the Gospel in the Eastern Districts of New Zealand. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 11 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  37. ^ "The Christian guardian. Pages 393-394". Church of England magazine. October 1840. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  38. ^ "The Church Missionary Gleaner, August 1844". Formation of a Station at Kauakaua, Hick’s Bay. Adam Matthew Digital. Retrieved 13 October 2015. (Subscription required (help)). 
  39. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 40. 
  40. ^ Derby (2007), Wai 900 – East Coast inquiry (Scoping Report), page 23, quoting letter from William Williams to Edward Garrard Marsh, 8 January 1840
  41. ^ Derby (2007) Wai 900 – East Coast inquiry (Scoping Report), page 41
  42. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 39. 
  43. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). pp. 588–590. 
  44. ^ Oliver, Steven. "Iharaira Te Houkamau". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  45. ^ The Revd. William Williams (1847). Plain facts about the war in the north. Online publisher – State Library Victoria, Australia: Philip Kunst, Shortland Street, Auckland. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  46. ^ a b Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 591. 
  47. ^ Cowan, James (1955). "The New Zealand Wars: A History of the Maori Campaigns and the Pioneering Period: Volume I: 1845–1864; chapter 15: Taranaki and the Land League". NZETC. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  48. ^ "William Williams". New Zealand History Online. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  49. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 593. 
  50. ^ a b c Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 595. 
  51. ^ Gillies, Iain and John (1998) – East Coast Pioneers. A Williams Family Portrait; A Legacy of Land, Love and Partnership
  52. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 600. 
  53. ^ Boyd, Mary (1 September 2010). "Williams, Samuel – Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  54. ^ a b Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). pp. 602–604. 
  55. ^ Williams, William (1974). The Turanga journals, 1840–1850. F. Porter (Ed). p. 610.