Williams family of Gresford, near Wrexham

A prominent family in the early days of Wesleyanism in north Wales and north-west Cheshire.

John Williams (1705-1788) of Llay, near Gresford was orphaned at the age of 2, along with his brother Richard, as a result of their father's death in a farming accident and their mother's dying of shock. He was brought up by a Presbyterian family and attended the Dr. Daniel Williams's Presbyterian School at Newmarket, Flintshire. He heard the Wesleyan preachers in Chester and became one of the first members of the WM society there.

His son Richard Williams (1737-1816) was born at Tattenhall, Cheshire and following his conversion joined the WM society in Chester. He took over the Rackery Farm in 1763 and led the Wesleyan society there for over fifty years, with the preachers from Chester visiting every other Sunday. He and his wife Elizabeth Gardner (1746-1824), the sister of John Gardner a noted Wesleyan local preacher in Chester and Birmingham, were also founder members of the Caergwrly chapel in Flintshire. Their nine children who reached maturity were converted and became Methodists.

Among their ten children was John Williams (1770-1832), a successful draper in Wrexham and a founding member and trustee of the Salop Street WM church there. He married Elizabeth Gilpin (1768-1835). Their daughter Mary (c.1798-1843) married Tubal Cain Jones JP (1811-1896), a lifelong Methodist who was instrumental in building the first Brynyffynnon WM church, Wrexham, in 1855 and its successor in 1891. Their daughter Elizabeth (1838-1900) married the Rev. Richard Harding (1836-1904; e.m. 1858).

One of Richard and Elizabeth daughters Ann (c.1778-1823) married the Rev. Samuel Warren. Another daughter Elizabeth (1778-1848) married the Rev.George Morley; they visited Mary Fletcher at Madeley on their wedding day for spiritual guidance. A third daughter Mary (1783-1858) married Adam Crompton Bealey (1780-1821) a Wesleyan industrialist. A fourth daughter Martha (1788-1859) married WM minister Rev Joseph Roberts (1790-1874; e.m. 1814).

Another son, named Richard after his father (1772-1827) was a farmer at Greenwalls Farm, Dodleston, Chester and also farmed with his father at Rackery Farm. Among his daughters were Elizabeth (born 1805) who married a WM minister, William Wilson (1801-1869; e.m. 1827) and Phillis who was the second wife of Tubal Cain Jones.

Their third son Samuel (1785-1832) was a Linen Draper in Chester and a trustee of the Chester Wesleyan Chapel. At a meeting in his house it was agreed to build a replacement chapel in St John Street Chester.

Three of Richard and Elizabeth's daughters ran a draper's shop in Chester, where one of their live-in assistants, John Bryan, was converted under their influence and entered the Wesleyan ministry.

  • Samuel Warren, Memoirs and select letters of Mrs. Anne Warren; with biographical sketches of her family 1827
  • G.J. Stevenson, City Road Chapel [1872], pp.556-7
  • Francis F. Bretherton, Early Methodism in and around Chester 1849-1812 (1903)