John Williams was born in London and came to Ireland in about 1780. In 1783 he painted a large picture of the Adelphi Club in Belfast. He edited the Volunteers' Journal in Dublin and returned to England after trouble when he attacked the government in an article. He published An Authentic History of the Professors of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, who have practised in Ireland (1796). He died of typhus fever in Brooklyn, New York.