William John Parry of Coetmor, labour leader and author, was born on the 28 September 1842 in Bethesda, Caernarfonshire. Active in politics throughout his life, he took a leading part in the famous 1868 election.
W. J. Parry was a member of the first Caernarfonshire County Council in 1889 and its chairman in 1892-1893. He took a prominent part in the creation of the North Wales Quarryman's Union in 1874 and became its first secretary. Later he became its president for some years. In 1879 he visited slate quarries in the United States at the Union's request.
Several books were published by him, dealing with the quarryman's affairs; Caebraichycafn : yr Ymdrafodaeth,1875; Chwareli a Chwarelwyr , 1896; The Penrhyn Lock-out, 1900-1901; Statement and Appeal, 1901; and Cry of the People, 1906. He also edited with W. J. Williams the Welshtranslation of the evidence on slate quarries and quarrymensubmitted to the Royal Commission on Labour (1893).
He was active in writing for Yr Herald Cymraeg, Y Genedl Gymreig, the Caernarvon and Denbigh Herald and the North Wales Observer on labour problems, leaseholds, Crown lands, Home Rule, county councils, arbitration, etc. He was also one of the founders of the newspaper called Y Werin in 1885, and was its first editor for three years.
A prominent member of the University College of North Wales, it was he who sent out the first letter requesting that books be donated. He himself also presented numerous books and papers to the University library and to the National Library of Wales. He was an Independent, and a deacon at Bethesda Chapel. He died on 1 September 1927 at Bethesda.
Also held at the Archives Department of the University of Wales Bangor are the Coetmor Papers.