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J. Lloyd Williams (1854-1945) was an eminent botanist and musician. A leading expert on the alpine flora of Snowdonia and marine algae on the one hand, he was also well-known as a composer, conductor and critic, and is regarded as the foremost collector of Welsh folk songs.
He was born in Plas Isa, Llanrwst, 10 July 1854, the eldest of seven children of Robert and Jane Williams. Between 1868 and 1872 he served as a pupil teacher at the local British School, before studying at the Normal College, Bangor, 1873-1874. In 1875 he was appointed headmaster of the Board School at Garndolbenmaen. In the mid-1890s he worked with Professor John Bretland Farmer at the Royal College of Science, London, and from 1897 to 1912 was assistant lecturer in Botany at the University College of North Wales, Bangor. From 1912 to 1915 he was Adviser in Agricultural Botany to the Board of Agriculture at Bangor. He held the chair of Botany at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, from 1915 to 1925. Much of his researches were published in the Annals of Botany and the Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Though his professional career centred on science, he was also a fine musician, a collector, composer, critic and conductor. While at Garndolbenmaen he wrote operas, the best known being Aelwyd Angharad and Cadifor with Llew Tegid (Lewis David Jones) as librettist. He was prominent in establishing the Welsh Folk-Song Society in 1906 and edited its Journal from the beginning until his death. He also edited the general music magazine Y Cerddor from 1931 to 1939 and, jointly with Arthur Somerville, compiled the two volumes of Sixteen Welsh Melodies, 1907 and 1909. To the end he continued his researches into the origins and development of Welsh music.
He published four volumes of autobiography, entitled Atgofion Tri Chwarter Canrif, and a study of three Welsh musicians, Y Tri Thelynor, which traces the careers of John Parry, Evan Williams and Edward Jones.
He was awarded the DSc degree of the University of Wales for his work on marine algae in 1908 and DMus (honoris causa) in 1936. He died 15 November 1945.