He supported biblical criticism and pioneered comparative Religious Studies in Britain. Williams is also credited with introducing Rugby to Wales – Lampeter's team was the first to be established in the nation. Williams was the son of the Welsh clergyman and writer Rowland Williams(d 1854).
Lord Elis-Thomas, Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, opened a new research centre at the University of Wales, Lampeter, on Friday 8 April 2005, named in honour of Williams: The Rowland Williams Research Centre for Theology and Religion. In attendance at the first conference were three great-great nephews of Rowland Williams.