WILLIAMS, JOHN, captain in the garrison of Annapolis Royal, N.S., fl. 1711–18.
According to later petitions, John Williams was enrolled in one of the seven regiments which made up General John Hill’s land force for the Walker expedition against Quebec in 1711. Following the disaster that terminated the expedition, Williams was included in a detachment of officers and soldiers sent to relieve the garrison of Annapolis Royal.
Being one of the “eldest officers,” he was given command of one of the four companies formed from the garrison in 1712. His commission as captain (dated 16 Oct. 1712) was enclosed in the document ordering Lieutenant-Governor Caulfeild to establish the companies. As a captain in the garrison, Williams also served on the governing council, and thus he took part in the discussions with the French envoys, Louis Denys* de La Ronde and Jacques d’Espiet de Pensens, sent from Île Royale in the summer of 1714.
Williams’ stay at Annapolis Royal seems to have been marked by great privation. A steady round of petitions from the garrison pleaded for additional provisions and clothing allowances. At one point Williams was on his way to England with a fellow captain, Christopher Aldridge*, to press the issue, but was turned back at Boston by Governor Nicholson.
When Lieutenant-Governor Caulfeild died 2 March 1716/17, Williams reported his death to England and apparently assumed the deceased officer’s duties in an acting capacity. At the same time he sought the office on a permanent basis as “the oldest officer in this part of America by some years.” As he feared, however, one of the “several persons who are now att home” received the post; John Doucett arrived at Annapolis Royal 28 Oct. 1717 to assume the duties of lieutenant-governor under Governor Richard Philipps*. Philipps organized the independent companies at Annapolis Royal and Placentia (Plaisance) into the 40th Foot (Colonel Richard Philipps’ regiment of foot). John Williams received the commission of captain (dated 25 Aug. 1717) in the new regiment; but the following year Joseph Bennett was appointed captain “in room of John Williams” (commission dated 15 May 1718). John Williams was still at Annapolis Royal 24 June 1718, but his signature does not appear on documents after that date.
PAC, Nova Scotia A, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. PRO, C.O. 5/9; 217/1, 217/2; CSP, Col., 1716–17. R. H. R. Smythies, Historical records of the 40th (2d Somersetshire) regiment now 1st battalion the Prince of’ Wales volunteers (South Lancashire regiment) from its formation in 1717 to 1893 (Devonport, 1894). Walker expedition (Graham). Dalton, English army lists, VI, 190, 192n. Brebner, New England’s outpost. Dalton, George the First’s army, I, 312–13.