Fonds GB 0210 JOHAMS - Sir John Williams Deeds and Papers,

Identity area

Reference code



Sir John Williams Deeds and Papers,


  • 1324-1926 (accumulated [1840s]-1926) / (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

0.601 cubic metres (18 boxes, 4 volumes, 2 pictures, 8 rolls, 2 ceremonial trumpets)

Context area

Name of creator

Biographical history

Sir John Williams (1840-1926), Baronet, doctor, was the first president of the National Library of Wales. He was born in Llangadog, Carmarthenshire, the son of David Williams, farmer and Independent Minister. He was educated at Glasgow University, 1857-1858. At University College Hospital, London, he obtained the degrees of MB in 1866 and MD in 1867. He began practicing medicine in Swansea, then returned to University College Hospital as house surgeon, retiring as Emeritus Professor in Midwifery in University College, London, and consulting Physician in Midwifery to University College Hospital. In 1886 he began to attend members of the Royal Family. He became personal physician to the Duchess of York (later Queen Mary, wife of King George V) and attended her at the birth of the future King Edward VIII. He was made a baronet, 1894, a KCVO, 1902, and a GCVO, 1911. Upon retiring, he returned to Wales, and settled at Plas Llanstephan, Llansteffan, Carmarthenshire. He was one of the prime movers for the establishment of the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth. He purchased major collections of Welsh books and manuscripts, including the Peniarth Manuscripts, with the intention of giving them to the Welsh nation. He was first president of the National Library, 1907-1926. He became president of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, in 1913, and was awarded honorary doctorates by four universities. In 1872 he married Mary Elizabeth Anne Hughes (died 1915), daughter of Richard Hughes of Ynystawe, near Swansea. He died on 24 May 1926.

Name of creator

Biographical history

Sir John Williams (1840-1926), royal physician, president of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and chief founder of the National Library of Wales, was born in Gwynfe, Carmarthenshire. His private library included important manuscripts from the estate of Peniarth, Merionethshire. It was Sir John who, amongst others, pioneered the setting up of a Welsh hospital in South Africa during the Boer War. Amongst the many honours bestowed upon him during his lifetime, he was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1894.

Archival history

Sir John Williams acquired material belonging to the following: the Penries of Swansea and Llanelli, including Lewis Penry of Llanelli and his son Griffith; Walter Dalton of Pembrey (d 1665/6), Charles his son (d [c. 1707]) and Edward, Walter's grandson (1685-1766); Walter Vaughan of Llanelli (fl. 1626) and his son John. Deeds of the Wynns of Gwydir were acquired by the Rev. John Williams (1760-1826) and were given to Sir John Williams in 1894.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Bequeathed to the National Library of Wales by Sir John Williams, 1926.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Personal papers of Sir John Williams comprising notes, essays, lectures and transcripts by him, [19th century]-[early 20th century]; certificates and testimonials, 1858-1915; cards and letters from the children of King George V and invitation cards to royal functions, 1889-1916; documents relating to his various honours, 1894-1911; photograph and stamp albums, 1849-[early 20th century]; other photographs, [1840s]-1905; press cuttings, [c. 1870]-1926; letters collected by Sir John, 1633-1912; letters to him, 1879-1922, the correspondents including members of the Royal Family; deeds and other documents relating to properties in Llangadog, to Plas Llanstephan and to Harley Street, London, 1790-1918; bibliographical material, [19th century]-[20th century]; medical notebooks and other papers, 1855-1900; diaries of Sir John and Lady Williams, 1872-1925; estate and financial records, 1890-[1926]; papers relating to public affairs, 1870-1911; miscellaneous items collected by Sir John, 1795-[c. 1919]; personal possessions, including University and commemorative medals, insignia, medical equipment, and ceremonial trumpets, 1861-1913; and deeds collected by Sir John Williams, 1546-1869, comprising deeds of the Vaughan family of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, the Penry family of Swansea, Glamorgan, and the Dalton family of Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, 1545-1677, relating to properties in Llangennech and Pembrey, Carmarthenshire; deeds of John Jones, Ystrad, Carmarthenshire, relating to Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire, 1632-1793, and the borough of Carmarthen, 1611-1869; Wynn of Gwydir deeds, 1352-1797, relating mostly to Caernarfonshire, Merionethshire and Denbighshire; miscellaneous Welsh deeds, relating mainly to properties in Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire, 1451-[c. 1840]; and miscellaneous deeds relating to England (mainly Cornwall and Staffordshire), Ireland, and Scotland, 1586-1896.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling

Action: All records have been retained..


Accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Arranged as follows: deeds of families of Vaughan of Llanelli, Penry of Swansea, Dalton of Pen-bre; Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire, deeds; Borough of Carmarthen deeds; miscellaneous Carmarthenshire and Cardiganshire deeds; bound volumes of miscellaneous Welsh deeds; Wynn of Gwydir deeds; miscellaneous Welsh deeds; Cornwall deeds; Staffordshire deeds; and miscellaneous English, Irish and Scottish deeds; and Sir John Williams's personal papers: bibliographical; medical; diaries; estate and financial; public affairs; miscellaneous; miscellaneous documents in hand of Sir John Williams; Sir John Williams's personalia; albums of photographs and stamps; albums of press cuttings; correspondence; personal possessions (non-manuscript); photographs.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Readers consulting modern papers in the National Library of Wales are required to sign the 'Modern papers - data protection' form.

Conditions governing reproduction

Usual copyright regulations apply.

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

English, Welsh, early deeds in Latin.

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A hard copy of the catalogue is available at the National Library of Wales.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Further papers collected by Sir John Williams are NLW, Peniarth and Hengwrt Manuscripts, the Shirburn Library and the Llanstephan Manuscripts; Timothy Lewis Manuscripts & Papers; Sir John Herbert Lewis; and Titus & Elizabeth Evans Manuscripts. Further papers of Sir John Wiliams are University of Wales Aberystwyth, Library, Sir John Williams Miscellanea; Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, letters to Margot Asquith.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Title supplied from contents of fonds.

Alternative identifier(s)

Virtua system control number


Project identifier


Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru = The National Library of Wales

Rules and/or conventions used

Description follows ANW guidelines based on ISAD(G) 2nd ed.; AACR2; and LCSH


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

April 2003.


  • English



The following sources were used to compile this description: NLW, Schedule of Sir John Williams' Papers; Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (London, 1959)

Archivist's note

Compiled by Rhys Jones for the ANW project.

Accession area