Howard Williams (humanitarian)

Howard Williams (6 January 1837 – 21 September 1931) was an English humanitarianism and vegetarianism activist, and writer. He was noted for authoring The Ethics of Diet, a history of vegetarianism, which was influential on the Victorian vegetarian movement.

Howard Williams
Born(1837-01-06)6 January 1837
Died21 September 1931(1931-09-21) (aged 94)
Aspley Guise, England
EducationSt John's College, Cambridge (BA, 1860; MA, 1863)
Occupation(s)Humanitarianism and vegetarianism activist, writer
Notable workThe Ethics of Diet (1883)
Eliza Smith
(m. 1860; died 1906)
FamilyHenry John Williams (brother)


Williams was a born on 6 January 1837, in Whatley, Mendip, the fifth son of the Reverend Hamilton John Williams and Margaret Sophia;[1] one of his older brothers was the priest and animal rights and vegetarianism activist Henry John Williams.[2][3] He was home educated,[1] then went on to study history at St John's College, Cambridge;[4] he earned his BA in 1860 and MA in 1863. Williams married Eliza Smith on 20 November 1860;[1] she died around 1906.[5]

Williams' first book was published in 1865, entitled The Superstitions of Witchcraft. Williams became a vegetarian in 1872, as well as an anti-vivisectionist; he published The Ethics of Diet, a history of vegetarianism, in 1883.[1]

Williams was the inspiration for and one of the founding members of the Humanitarian League, in 1891, which "opposed all avoidable suffering on any sentient being".[4][6] He remained on the board for several years and authored the "Pioneers of humanity" section for the league's journal, which was later published as a popular pamphlet.[1] He also served as the Vice-President of the London Vegetarian Society[5] and was a board member of the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society.[4]

Williams died in Aspley Guise, on 21 September 1931.[1]



  1. "Williams, Howard". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/41000. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. Grumett, David; Muers, Rachel, eds. (2011). Eating and Believing: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Vegetarianism and Theology. London: A&C Black. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-567-57736-8.
  3. Gregory, James. (2007). Of Victorians and Vegetarians: The Vegetarian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Tauris Academic Studies. p. 109. ISBN 978-1-84511-379-7
  4. Preece, Rod (2011). Animal Sensibility and Inclusive Justice in the Age of Bernard Shaw. Vancouver: UBC Press. pp. 167–168. ISBN 9780774821124.
  5. "Mr. Howard Williams". Bedfordshire Times and Independent. 25 September 1931.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. "Humanitarian League". Henry S. Salt Society. Retrieved 28 February 2020.

Further reading

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