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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).
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Williams, John(1664–1729) clergyman, author; born in Roxbury, Mass. He was captured in the French and Indian raid on Deerfield where he was the town's minister. Following two years in captivity in Canada (1704–06), he returned to Massachusetts and wrote The Redeemed Captive Returning to Zion (1707).
Williams, John (Alfred) (J. Dennis Gregory, pen name)(1925– ) writer; born in Jackson, Miss. He studied at Syracuse (B.A. 1950; graduate study 1950–51). He worked in Syracuse for the county welfare department, and in public relations (1952–54), and in Hollywood and New York City he worked in television and radio (1954–55). He also worked in publishing for a variety of employers in New York City (1955–59), and as a correspondent in Africa for Newsweek (1964–65). A teacher at numerous institutions, including Rutgers (1979), he lived in Teaneck, N.J. He wrote nonfiction and numerous novels, and is known for his opposition to American racism, as seen in !Click Song (1982).
Williams, John (Sharp)(1854–1932) U.S. representative/senator; born in Memphis, Tenn. A lawyer and cotton plantation owner, he was minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives (Dem., Miss.; 1893–1909), and chairman of the Library and University Committees in the Senate (1911–23).
Williams, John (Towner)(1932– ) film composer, conductor; born in New York City. He is the leading screen composer of his generation, his films including the Star Wars series and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In 1980 he became conductor of the Boston Pops, retiring from that post in 1992 to devote his time to composing.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.