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William Llewelyn Williams was born on 10 March 1867 at Brownhill, Llansadwrn, Carmarthenshire, to a family of notable Independents. He was privately educated at Llandovery College before receiving a scholarship to study at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he graduated in history in 1889. Whilst at college he was involved with the Dafydd ap Gwilym Society. He was briefly a schoolteacher at Canterbury before becoming the first editor of the South Wales Star in 1891. During this period, he became a supporter of the Cymru Fydd movement and was involved in the establishment of its first branch in Wales in Barry, 1891. He went on to work at the South Wales Post and the South Wales Daily News before moving to London to become chief sub-editor of the Star. He published some Welsh books, including S'lawer Dydd, Gwilym a Benni Bach and The Making of Modern Wales.
From journalism he turned his attention towards law and politics. He was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1897 and took silk in 1912. Following this, he became leader of the South Wales Circuit and was Recorder of Swansea, 1914-1915, and Recorder of Cardiff, 1915-1922.
In 1906 he was elected MP for the Carmarthen Boroughs constituency, a seat he retained until its abolition in 1918. He was heavily involved in the struggle to secure the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, and was virulently opposed to the introduction of military conscription in 1916. This ultimately led to the break-up of his friendship with David Lloyd George. He went on to contest unsuccessfully the 1921 Cardiganshire by-election as an Independent Liberal candidate, losing to Ernest Evans, the Coalition Liberal and former private secretary to Lloyd George.
W. Llewelyn Williams died in April 1922, aged 55. He left a widow, Elinor, née Jenkins. A memorial was erected and unveiled in his name at Brownhill in September 1938.