Born 15 January 1723 at West Marsh, Llansadyrnin, Carmarthenshire, son of Owen and Elizabeth Williams. He was educated at Carmarthen grammar school; while there, after listening (1743) to a sermon preached by George Whitefield, he was converted. He was for a short time a schoolmaster at Cynwyl Elfed. He was ordained deacon in 1745 and became a curate successively at Eglwys Gymyn, Swansea, Llangrannog, and Llandysilio Gogo, but his Methodism got him into trouble in his parishes and the bishop refused to make him a priest. He joined the Methodists in 1747 and began to tour the country, preaching. In 1748 he married Mary Jenkins of Llanlluan and, before long, settled at Gelli Lednais, Llandyfaelog, where he died 8 August 1796. Eliezer and Peter Bailey Williams were his sons. Peter Williams was one of the outstanding leaders of the Methodist movement in Wales. He was also a writer and a poet. His hymns are to be found in Rhai Hymnâu ac Odlau Ysprydol, 1759, and Hymns on Various Subjects, 1771; he also published elegies on William Davies of Neath, 1787, and on Daniel Rowland, 1790. His chief books are Blodau i Blant, 1758; Galwad gan wyr eglwysig, 1781; Cydymaith mewn Cystudd, 1782; Yr Hyfforddwr Cymreigaidd, 1784; Y Briodas Ysbrydol, 1784; Ymddygiad Cristianogol, 1784. He also adapted and translated a number of English books. He had something to do with the publication of Trysorfa Gwybodaeth, neu, Eurgrawn Cymraeg, the first Welsh periodical, 1770, but the question whether he or Josiah Rees was its editor has not yet been decided.
His life's greatest achievement was the publication of successive editions of the Bible, each chapter having its own separate commentary. The first edition was published and sold out in 1770 and there were calls for many more editions. ‘Beibl Peter Williams’ was tremendously popular in Wales for several generations and many thousands of copies were issued at one time or another. In 1773 he published the Mynegeir Ysgrythurol, which was a great help to the Welsh folk in their study of the Bible. His commentary on John, i, 1, aroused the suspicion that he was inclining to Sabellianism, but it was after his publication of a Welsh edition of John Canne's ‘Little Bible’ (1790) that the storm broke. He was accused of publishing the Sabellian heresy and at the Llandeilo C.M. Association, 1791, was excommunicated. He spent the last years of his life in bitter controversy with the Methodists, and it was during this period that his last books were published. They were: Llythyr at Hen Gydymaith, 1791; Tafol i Bwyso Sosiniaeth, 1791; Dirgelwch Duwioldeb, 1792; and Gwreiddyn y Mater, 1794.
Published date: 1959
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