Born 12 July 1809 at Llwyn Drain in the parish of Ystrad Owen, Glamorganshire. About 1821 his parents removed to Aberdare
He soon attained a prominent position in the coal-mining world of South Wales owning and running a number of pits including the colliety at Aberaman which became known as Williams pit
He made great wealth from mining and used this to buy landholdings including Miskin Manor which was then developed by his son Gwilym Williams
Although he became a man of wealth, he remained in close touch with the working classes, presiding and conducting and sometimes adjudicating at their eisteddfodau. Fond of composing Welsh poetry himself, he became a popular figure in the literary world of Wales.
He spent considerable sums of money in helping on the movement to establish the national eisteddfod