Williams, Herbert Lewis Octavius B.A. (1898-1941)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

HERBERT LEWIS OCTAVIOUS WILLIAMS, B.A.: born at Devonport in 1898, a son of the manse, he saw war-service in the Navy, and after a period in Hartley College entered the ministry. To his African task he brought imagination and faith, a great idealism, a constructive mind, an unresting energy, and a promptitude of action that speedily made him an outstanding personality in the District and the country. 

Enriched in his own soul by deep experience, he entered into the life, thought, and moods of his students and his colleagues, Each was his personal study. Selecting, counselling, inspiring, he suggested to them careers which would not only be of service to themselves but also to their people. Christian education was to him more than religious instruction—it was a fitting of his students for lives of communal service and of faithful Christian citizenship. With this in view he fashioned the college of which for so long he was Principal. With a touch of genius, he embodied in its buildings fine examples of African art and craftsmanship to awake the latent powers of future students. His great ambition was to have completed the whole by a college chapel which should be a new and perfect expression of African worship. 

He died at sea through enemy action on April 16, 1941, in the twentieth year of his ministry.


Herbert was born in 1898 at Devonport, Devon, to parents John Lewis Williams, a PM minister, and Mina Beatrice Smith.

He married Elizabeth Ellen Mitchell (b1900) in the spring of 1924 in the Lambert Registration District, London.

He married Miriam Blanche Craik-Smith (1897-1990) in the summer of 1929 at Bristol, Gloucestershire.

Herbert died on 16 April 1941 at sea on the MV Swedru which was sunk by enemy aircraft off the North West coast of Ireland.


  • Hartley
  • 1921 Supply
  • 1924 E Nigeria


Methodist Minutes 1941/183

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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