Robert Williams


Preacher of Bardsey

Robert Williams was born the son of the Innkeeper of the Gegin Fawr Aberdaron, his family hailed from Hendy Bardsey. When Robert was about eighteen he began preaching temperance, which naturally enraged his father who threw him out of the family home. Robert then moved to live with the family at Hendy Bardsey and soon began to take religious meetings on the island. As there was no tavern or indeed any entertainment on Bardsey he had a good hearing from all the islanders without any hindrance from his father, and he soon became prominent and noted in religious circles. There had been a decline in religion on the island at one time and Robert and his wife Sian were the only worshippers in the chapel, but things soon changed and a revival came about bringing with it more ‘saints’ from across the Sound !

"Gegin Fawr Aberdaron"

Apart from being a preacher Robert Williams was quite an astute businessman as well as earning a living from farming and fishing. Edmund Hyde Hall had described the people of Bardsey as a ‘Few families who on the ground till a few acres, but who look to the sea as the chief source of their maintenance’. Every penny earned in those times came from the sea from fishing, sometimes as we can see from Robert Williams notes money was had for recovering bodies from the sea.

Bardsey Island July 1824

Account of all the expenses of what I paid to carry the body that I catch out of Bardsey


To go to Caernarvon £1/1/0d
For catch it       5/0d
For send it cross and home back    10/0d
The clerk       2/6d
For liquor and ale      3/0d
For coffin  £1/10d
Settled July 1824 £3/2/6d

Between everything Robert Williams was a busy man and the running of his ship that was built at Porthdinllaen and named after him, took up a great deal of time. He employed Rees Griffith as the captain of his ship, Rees was from Bryn Mawr Anelog and eventually fell in love with and married Robert’s daughter Ann. The ship used to ply her trade between Porthmadog, Stetin. Spain, Newfoundland, Italy and the Black sea. Eventually the ship was sold to new owners in Greece and Captain Rees Griffith found a new steamship to take command of which was owned by Lord Newborough. The ‘Robert Williams’ had to be delivered to her new owners in Greece and Robert was to accompany her for the journey he would need a qualified sea captain and he found just the person, a sea captain from the village of Rhiw, for this occasion a rhyme was made, which roughly translated goes like this

The preacher was from Bardsey

The captain came from Rhiw

Two from Aberdaron

And there you have the crew.

Robert Williams died on April 4th 1875 and was buried on Bardsey having served the Methodist church of Bardsey faithfully for more than forty years.


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