Military Wiki
Sir William Williams
William Fenwick Williams by William Gush, Province House (Nova Scotia)
Born (1800-12-04)December 4, 1800
Died 26 July 1883(1883-07-26) (aged 82)
Allegiance  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Service/branch  British Army
Rank General
Battles/wars Crimean War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

General Sir William Fenwick Williams, 1st Baronet GCB (4 December 1800 – 26 July 1883) was a Nova Scotian and renowned military leader for the British during the Victorian era. He is remembered for his gallant defence of the town of Kars during the Crimean War. He with other British officers inspired the poorly equipped Turkish soldiers to repel Russian attacks by General Murav’ev on the besieged town for three months causing 6,000 Russian casualties.[1] They were forced to surrender due to starvation, disease and shortage of ammunition. However they surrendered on their own terms with the officers being allowed to retain their swords. Williams was imprisoned at Ryazan but he was treated very well and released at the end of the Crimean War in 1856. Before returning home he was introduced to Czar Alexander II.[1] Many other honours were bestowed upon Sir William and it was particularly fitting that in 1865-7, he was appointed the first Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, where he had been born at the turn of the 19th century. The portrait by William Gush was painted for the Parliament House, Halifax, Nova Scotia and hangs to this day in Province House, Halifax.

Early life[]

He was born in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, the second son of Commissary-General Thomas Williams, barrack-master at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He was however widely rumoured to be the natural son of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn; this would make him Queen Victoria's half-brother. Williams never denied this but it is not thought to be true.[1]


Williamse was educated at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich.[1] He entered the Royal Artillery as second lieutenant in 1825. His services were lent to Turkey in 1841, and he was employed as a captain in the arsenal at Constantinople. He was British commissioner in the conferences preceding the treaty of Erzerum in 1847, and again in the settlement of the Ottoman-Iranian boundary in 1848 (brevet majority and lieutenant-colonelcy and CB).

Crimean War[]

William Williams

Promoted colonel, he was British commissioner with the Turkish army in Anatolia in the Crimean War (Russian War) of 1854–56, and, having been made a pasha (general/governor/lord) with the degree of ferik (major-general), he practically commanded the Turks during the defence of Kars, repulsing several Russian attacks by the Russian general Muravyov. Muravyov initially had planned a direct assault on the city but due to the ferocity of the Turkish soldiers decided to limit Russian losses by changing his strategy into the siege of Kars (not to be confused with the Battle of Kars). The siege lasted five months. Cold, cholera, famine and hopelessness of succour from without, however, compelled Williams to make an honourable capitulation on 28 November 1855.

Williams had put up such an honorable defence of the city that Count Muravyov stated "General Williams, you have made yourself a name in history, and posterity will stand amazed at the endurance, courage and the discipline which the siege has called forth in the remains of the army." [2] A baronetcy with pension for life, the KCB, the grand cross of the Legion of Honour and of the Turkish Medjidie, the freedom of the City of London with a sword of honour, and the honorary degree of DCL of Oxford University, were the distinctions conferred upon him for his valour.

Promoted major-general in November 1855 on his return from captivity in Russia, he held the Woolwich command, and represented the borough of Calne in parliament from 1856 to 1859. In the lead up to the American Civil War, from 1859 to 1864, he held the position of Commander in Chief, North America, and was responsible for preparations for war with the United States in the case that relations broke down. The most severe strain in relations occurring during the Trent Affair.

He became lieutenant-general and colonel-commandant Royal Artillery in 1864, general in 1868, commanded the forces in Canada from 1859 to 1865.


Plaque honoring Sir William Fenwick Williams, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

He held the governorship of Nova Scotia 1865–1867. Post Canadian Confederation in 1867, Williams was reappointed as the first Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and the governorship of Gibraltar from September 1870 to 1876. He was made GCB in 1871, and Constable of the Tower of London in 1881.[1]

Later life[]

He died in a hotel in Pall Mall on 26 July 1883 and he was buried in Brompton Cemetery.[1]


  • The village of Kars, Ontario
  • Kars Street, Port Williams, Nova Scotia
  • Kars Street, Kings County, Nova Scotia
  • Fenwick Street, Halifax
  • Fenwick Tower (Halifax)
  • Plaque to honour birthplace, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 "Siw William Fenwick Williams". Dictionary of Canadian Biography. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  2. Alex Troubetzkoy. The Crimean War - The Causes and Consequences of a Medieval Conflict Fought in a Modern Age. Constable & Robinson Ltd, London. 2006. pp. 298.
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911) Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.) Cambridge University Press 

External links[]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Earl of Shelburne
Member of Parliament for Calne
Succeeded by
Robert Lowe
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir William Rowan
Commander-in-Chief, North America
Succeeded by
passed over to the
Governor General of the Province of Canada
Sir Edmund Walker Head
Government offices
Preceded by
Lord Airey
Governor of Gibraltar
Succeeded by
Lord Napier
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Charles Yorke
Constable of the Tower
Lord Lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets

Succeeded by
Sir Richard James Dacres
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Kars)

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