Sir George Williams (October 11, 1821 – November 6, 1905), was the founder of the YMCA.
Williams was born on a farm in Dulverton, Somerset, England. As a young man, he described himself as a “careless, thoughtless, godless, swearing young fellow” but eventually became a devout Christian.
He went to London and worked in a draper’s shop. Appalled by the terrible conditions in London for young working men, he gathered a group of his fellow drapers together to create a place that would not tempt young men into sin. That place was the YMCA, which he founded in 1844. One of the earliest converts and contributors to the new association was George’s employer, George Hitchcock, whose daughter Helen Jane Maunder Hitchcock he went on to marry in 1853.
Williams was knighted in 1894 by Queen Victoria. After his death in 1905, he was commemorated by a stained-glass window in the nave of Westminster Abbey. Sir George Williams is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.