William Williams, pastor of the Norfolk Street Methodist Church, Guelph, dates his birth, in Stonehouse, Devonshire, England, January 23, 1836, his parents being William and Margaret Williams. His mother was a daughter of Robert Pearse, of Cornwall, member of a numerous Methodist family in that place. Mr. Mark Guy Pearse, author of “Daniel Quorn,” and other works, is a member of the family, and Rev. William Burgess, deceased, was connected with it by marriage. In 1842, William Williams, senior, brought his family to Canada, settled in Toronto, and was there engaged in mercantile pursuits, being still alive, and residing near Owen Sound.
Our subject received his literary education mainly in the preparatory department of Upper Canada College Toronto; studied divinity, at a later period; entered the ministry of the New Connexion Methodist Church in 184, and held pastorates in London, Montreal, Toronto and other places. He was chairman for four years, of a district in the New Connexion church; was one year president of the New Connexion Conference, and acted the greater part of the next year in the same capacity, on account of the death of the president, Rev. Samuel B. Gundy, of Toronto.
Mr. Williams took a leading part in the union of the New Connexion and Wesleyan Methodist Churches, being on both committees, and, in 1874, was sent by the New Connexion Conference, with Robert Wilkes, M.P., of Toronto, as a deputation to the New Connexion Conference of England, to obtain the consent of that body to the contemplated union in Canada, and the deputation was completely successful. In 1875, after this union had been consummated, and while he was pastor at Simcoe, Mr. Williams was sent, with William H. Gibbs, of Oshawa, by the Central Board, as a missionary deputation to the churches in the Maritime Provinces of Canada.
After serving the Church one year at Simcoe, by special invitation of the Hamilton Centenary Church, Mr. Williams was sent to take charge of that church, the largest church in the London Conference, and remained there for three years. A member of that church speaks as follows of his work in that city, his style of preaching, &c.
“His discourses showed him to be a man of culture, of extensive reading, of careful thought, and of sound judgment. The Centenary Church never, believe, had a better expounder of the Word of God, or a more faithful preacher of the Gospel. Conscientious in the discharge of his duty, whatever he seemed to feel should be said, he spoke boldly, whether it was likely to please or displease. At the same time he evinced such qualities of heart, such sympathy, such desire to do his people good, as secured for him their affection, and made him very influential. As a man Mr. Williams was liked by all who knew him. He was pleasant and unassuming, easy to approach, and ever ready to lend a helping hand.”
Mr. Williams became pastor of the Norfolk Street Church in June, 1879, and is serving his first year. It is a strong and influential body of Christians, thoroughly united and enthusiastic in support of their pastor, and having a rapid growth.
Mr. Williams has had one or two sermons and a few abstracts of sermons published, but does not seem to be ambitious to rush into print. In that respect he is rather chary of his pulpit efforts. He has written several articles for magazines, and frequently lectures on literary subjects.
May 24, 1859, he married Miss Mary Brennan, niece of Rev. James Brennan, deceased, of Hamilton. They have five children living, and have lost their eldest son and daughter.