Williams was born in a workhouse in east London. He gained employment as a bank clerk and in 1871 married a wealthy heiress, Jane Dexter. He became manager of the Sydenham branch of the London & South Western Bank in 1876.
In the same year he entered local politics when he was elected to Lewisham Vestry. In 1877 he was nominated by the vestry to the Lewisham District Board of Works, and in 1882 became chairman of the board, holding the position until the body was abolished in 1900. From 1886-1889 he represented Lewisham on the Metropolitan Board of Works. The district board was replaced by the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham, and Williams served as the first Mayor of Lewisham from 1900-1902.
In 1908 he was summoned to Lambeth County Court to face bankruptcy proceedings. In court it emerged that Williams had been enriching himself through embezzlement and fraud, having misappropriated both his wife and sister-in-law’s inheritances, stolen the money he held in trust for a widow and forced his employees to invest their savings in his companies, which became insolvent through his mismanagement. He had used multiple false names and used complicated procedures to funnel money into his own acccounts.
The evidence unearthed led to him being charged with obtaining money under false pretences. When his trial opened at Greenwich Magistrates Court the court were informed that Williams was dead. An inquest found that he had taken his own life with an overdose of morphine.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 The Late Mr. T. W. Williams, The Times, 8 November 1908 p.14
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Theophilius William Williams. Scandal of Lewisham's First Mayor. Sydenham & Forest Hill Local History 
- ↑ The London Borough Councils. Election Of Mayors And Aldermen, The Times, 10 November 1900, p.14
- ↑ Election Of Mayors And Aldermen, The Times, 11 November 1901, p.7
- ↑ London County Council Election, The Times, 4 March 1901, p.7