Williams, Frederick Smeeton (DNB00)

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WILLIAMS, FREDERICK SMEETON (1829–1886), congregational divine, born at Newark in 1829, was the second son of Charles Williams. His mother's maiden name was Smeeton.

His father, Charles Williams (1796–1866), congregational divine, born in London on 18 July 1796, was the son of a foreman in an engine factory. After working in his father's factory he entered the establishment of a bookseller in Piccadilly named Sharpe, and soon became principal manager. Resolving to enter the ministry, he studied at Rothwell and at Hoxton Academy, and accepted a call to Newark-upon-Trent, whence in 1833 he removed to Salisbury to minister to the congregation in Endless Street. In 1835 he went to London, and was for twelve years editor to the Religious Tract Society. Besides editing many of the society's periodicals, such as the ‘Visitor’ and the ‘Christian Spectator,’ he wrote seventy-five distinct publications for the society during his term of office. Some of them became popular, but as they were published anonymously many cannot be identified. In 1850 Williams removed to St. John's Wood, and subsequently became pastor at Sibbertoft in Northamptonshire, where he died on 16 June 1866. Among his publications were: 1. ‘The Seven Ages of England, or its Advancement in Art, Literature, and Science,’ London, 1836, 8vo. 2. ‘Curiosities of Animal Life,’ London, 1848, 16mo. 3. ‘George Mogridge: his Life, Character, and Writings,’ London, 1856, 8vo. 4. ‘Dogs and their Ways,’ London, 1863, 8vo. 5. ‘The First Week of Time; or Scripture in Harmony with Science,’ London, 1863, 8vo (Congregational Year Book, 1867, p. 326).

The son, Frederick Smeeton, was educated at University College, London, and entered New College, St. John's Wood, in 1850, as a student for the ministry. In 1857 he became pastor of the newly formed congregation at Claughton, near Birkenhead, but, resigning the charge some years later, he resided for a time with his father at Sibbertoft. Upon the formation of the Congregational Institute in 1861 Williams became tutor in conjunction with the principal, the Rev. John Brown Paton, and remained in that position until his death. He died at Nottingham on 26 Oct. 1886, and was buried in the church cemetery on 30 Oct. He left a widow and eight children.

Williams was widely known as a writer on English railways. In 1852 he published his most important work, ‘Our Iron Roads: their History, Construction, and Social Influences’ (London, 8vo), which reached a seventh edition in 1888. In 1876 appeared ‘The Midland Railway: its Rise and Progress’ (London, 8vo), which attained a fifth edition in 1888. He was also the author of several religious pamphlets and of ‘The Wonders of the Heavens,’ London, 1852, 12mo; new edit. 1860.

[Nottingham Daily Express, 28 Oct., 1 Nov. 1886; Congregational Year Book, 1887, p. 250; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Lit.]

E. I. C.