Grave of William Venables Williams, Llandrillo

Grave of William Venables WilliamsWilliam Venables Williams (d.1893)

William Venables Williams MA was vicar of Llandrillo yn Rhos parish for 32 years. He is commemorated also by a monument on the Cayley Promenade, erected by public subscription  “in recognition of the many public services” he rendered to the area. 

He was involved in many of the developments in both Colwyn Bay and Rhos, and was a controversial figure. He resisted the demands of farmers in his parish for relief from tithes. With Nonconformism common in Wales, many argued that they should no longer have to fund the Anglican church, with which chapel worshippers had no other connection.

Portrait of William Venables WilliamsThe Rev Venables Williams upped the ante in September 1886 by demanding tithes from the newly built English Congregational Church in Colwyn Bay, not for one year but for several years in arrears! He threatened to seize property in lieu of the tithes.

The following month, a fire destroyed St Paul’s Church (Anglican) in Colwyn Bay. It was ascribed to the verger lighting a fire that evening to heat the interior for worship on the following day (a Sunday), but in 1887 the Rev Venables Williams claimed the fire was started by tithe protestors. In November 1886 he received a letter from anonymous Welsh “Home Rulers” warning that unless he reduced the tithe by 25% “your parish, your home, yourself and all you possess will be dynamited and blown up”.

The anger erupted in a riot in nearby Mochdre in June 1887, when a full company of the Cheshire Regiment and more than 100 police officers were called in to help church agents seize cows and other property from farmers who hadn’t paid tithes.

In 1893 the Rev Venables Williams tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the newly developing resort of Colwyn Bay splitting away from his large Llandrillo yn Rhos parish. He even petitioned Parliament and Queen Victoria in his campaign!

One of his profitable sidelines was that he had a toll road built from Llandrillo to Penrhynside. It was known as “the vicar’s road”. Now it’s Llandudno Road.

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