William Williams was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, on October 12, 1787, the son of Thomas Williams, a tanner. He had several siblings, including Sukey and Martha. The Williams family moved to New Hartford, New York, and William joined his brother-in-law, William McLean, in Utica in 1800. There, he assisted McLean in publishing the Whitestown Gazette and Cato's Patrol, which was renamed the Patriot when sold to John H. Lathrop in 1803. William became a partner in 1807, and later a master printer and journalist. He served in the War of 1812 as a captain of a company of volunteers and received an appointment as brigade inspector of the 13th New York Infantry in 1816. William married Sophia Wells in November 1811 and they had at least three sons: Samuel Wells, William Frederick, and Henry Dwight. Samuel moved to Canton (now Guangzhou), China, around the 1830s, and worked as a Christian missionary. William Frederick also traveled widely, and worked with a Dr. DeForest in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1850. William Williams died in 1850.