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BIOGRAPHY

Williams was born in Lonesome Hill, Saint Peter, Barbados, on 21 February 1910. He was reportedly the eighth of ten children born to parents Napoleon and Mariah Williams. His father was a skilled saddler, a prominent and highly respected craftsman at several plantations. Williams began learning the trade at a young age, as he became the apprentice of his father’s chief assistants. He eventually became his father’s most dexterous worker and was employed at every plantation in St. Lucy, St. Andrew, and St. Peter. Being an accomplished saddler and entrepreneur, he crafted saddles and harnesses for various purposes, such as equipping horses for buggies, and donkey carts, in addition to creating bridles and collars for racehorses.

Williams was married three times and outlived all three of his wives. From these marriages, he had nine children. As an adult, he moved to the United States, where he resided in New York and Pennsylvania. He secured employment in the US Army and later served in the mounted branch in Trinidad. Following his retirement, he resided in Seattle before ultimately returning to his hometown of Lonesome Hill.

In his later years, he returned to Barbados with the intention of sharing his knowledge and skills by instructing others in the art of crafting saddles and other horse-related apparel. At the age of 99, he traveled to the United States to help take care of a friend. At the age of 103, he remained active in his yard and had a fondness for the occasional alcoholic beverage, especially his favorite drink – a combination of Hennessy, brandy, ginger wine, Sprite, and bitters.

In July 2021, while Hurricane Elsa was passing through, his house lost its roof, and he had to relocate. After the roof was repaired, he returned. However, just hours after coming back, Williams passed away, at the age of 111 years, 150 days. He was survived by seven of his nine children, 33 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren and 34 great-great-grandchildren.

RECOGNITION

At the time of his death, he was the oldest living man in Barbados, and the second-oldest Barbadian man ever, behind James Sisnett.

ATTRIBUTION

* “Melville Uriah Williams” – Centenarians Of Barbados

* “107 and still going ‘strong’” – NationNews Barbados, 25 February 2017

* “Farewell to supercentenarian” – NationNews Barbados, 12 August 2021

GALLERY

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