Williams, Eleazer

Williams, Eleazer

Williams, Eleazer, c.1787-1858, missionary among Native North Americans. He was the son of Thomas Williams, a St. Regis Native American chief, and a white woman; he was educated in private schools in Massachusetts. He became a Episcopal missionary among the New York Native Americans. When the Oneida went (1822) to a reservation near Green Bay, Wis., he went with them and remained until 1850, when he returned to New York. He is credited with simplifying the written Mohawk language. Among other things he translated (1853) the Book of Common Prayer into Iroquois and wrote (1859) a Life of Te-ho-ra-gwa-ne-gen (the Iroquois name of Thomas Williams, his father). He is remembered for claiming, without substantiation, to have been Louis XVII of France (the Lost Dauphin), the supposed kidnapped son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Eleazer was the form used by Williams himself, although the name occurs also as Eleazar, Lazar, and Lazau.

See W. Wight, Eleazer Williams: His Forerunners, Himself (1896).

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