While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Margaret Swett Henson

WILLIAMS, HENRY HOWELL (1796–1873). Henry Howell Williams, merchant, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1796, the second son of Howell and Dorothy (Wheat) Williams. Williams went to sea at an early age, probably with his father, a sea captain. During the 1820s he served in the Colombian navy. In 1830 he visited Texas, where he applied for land in Stephen F. Austin's colony but failed to become a resident. He settled in Baltimore and took over the commission house of his uncle, Nathaniel Felton Williams, and owned a schooner named Reaper. He lived in Galveston and served as Texas consul in Baltimore intermittently from 1838 to 1845. He allowed his brother's Galveston firm, McKinney and Williams, to use his credit between 1835 and 1837, but the panic of 1837 forced him to retrench. Nevertheless, he was instrumental in arranging for Nicholas Dawson of Baltimore to build six vessels for the Texas Navy in 1838–39. In 1841 he assumed control of McKinney and Williams in Galveston as a means to recover his money. He operated the commission house as a branch of his Baltimore undertaking, named H. H. Williams and Company, with the aid of his son, John Wilkins Williams. The son and Arthur T. Lynn, the British consul in Galveston, formed a partnership and operated under the company name Lynn and Williams until the late 1850s, when the business passed out of the family entirely. Williams was an investor in the Galveston City Company and was instrumental in building the Tremont Hotel. In 1848 he used his influence to get money for opening his brother's Commercial and Agricultural Bank in Galveston. During the 1850s he returned permanently to Baltimore, where he died on December 17, 1873. He was survived by his wife, Rebecca Wilkins, and his son. He still owned considerable property in Galveston.

Margaret S. Henson, Samuel May Williams: Early Texas Entrepreneur (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1976).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Margaret Swett Henson, "WILLIAMS, HENRY HOWELL," accessed August 13, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwi25.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...