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In Memory of Penry Williams, 1925-2013

The College was deeply saddened to learn of the death on 30 April 2013 of Penry Williams. 

A short biography of Penry can be found below, as well as details of the memorial service to be held at New College, and the campaign to establish a History Fellowship in his memory.



Penry Williams was born in Calcutta in 1925. His family moved back to Britain shortly after his birth, initially to Hertfordshire and then to Breconshire. In 1943 he began training with the Royal Artillery and was posted to India and Java at the end of the Second World War. He took up a place to read History at New College in 1947.

Between 1951 and 1964 Penry taught at Manchester University, before returning to New College where he stayed until his retirement in 1992. Penry authored several well-regarded books on the Tudor period, including ‘The Tudor Regime’, as well as a biography of Sir Walter Raleigh.

In 1979, he was instrumental in compiling a history of New College for its 600th anniversary. Penry was also Editor of the New College Record, and was closely involved in the work of the Development Office for many years before and after his retirement.

During his time as a teaching fellow Penry built up a reputation as an ‘outstanding tutor and fine lecturer’. He is fondly remembered by 30 years of New College History students, who have recalled his patience, selflessness, geniality and commitment to teaching.

During his retirement, Penry dedicated himself to helping asylum seekers, and had strong links with the Oxford charity Asylum Welcome. He would regularly turn up to appeal hearings and befriend and support those detained at the Campsfield House detention centre near Oxford. 


Memorial Service

A memorial service for Penry Williams will be held in the Chapel at New College on Saturday 12 October, 2013.

The service will start at 2pm, with tea served afterwards in the temporary dining Hall. For catering purposes it would be helpful to know numbers attending, so please email Madeleine Hammond.


The Penry Williams Fellowship in History

New College is currently in discussion with Penry's family about a lasting memorial to Penry, and are planning to establish a Penry Williams Fellowship in History,

If you would like further details please contact Mark Curtis, Director of Development on 01865 279261, or by email at

If you would like to make a donation, please either download a donation form, or make an online gift. (please select Teaching and Research Fund and we will allocate your gift accordingly).



Links to the obituaries in the Guardian and History Today, by New College Old Members Stephen Bates (1972) and Gordon Marsden (1973) respectively, can be found below, as well those printed in the Times and the Oxford Mail:


History Today


Oxford Mail

The Times also published an appreciation of Penry by Old Member William Richardson, in its Lives Remembered Section.