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Williams, John,1664–1729, American clergyman, b. Roxbury, Mass., grad. Harvard, 1683. In 1686 he became the first minister at Deerfield, Mass. During the great Native American massacre at that frontier town in Feb., 1704, he and his family were taken captive. Two of his children were murdered, and his wife was killed on the long journey to Canada. In 1706 he and his surviving children (except one, who remained with the Native Americans) were released. Williams returned to Deerfield. His story of his adventures, The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion (1707), is one of the best known of the many accounts of Native American captivity.
Williams, John,1796–1839, English missionary, called the Apostle of Polynesia. Under the London Missionary Society he went (1817) to the Society Islands. He discovered Rarotonga in 1823 and founded missions there. He later translated parts of the Bible and other books into Rarotongan. After a visit to England (1834–38), he returned to the South Seas in a newly outfitted missionary ship. In a region of the New Hebrides where he was not known and where he was planning to start a mission, he was killed by cannibals. His Narrative of Missionary Enterprise in the South Sea Islands (1837) threw valuable light on Polynesia.
See biographies by E. Prater (1947) and C. Northcott (1965).