Lydia Williams was born to enslaved parents. Her father may have come from the largely “Mazbieker” (Mozambican) community of Protea, next to present-day Kirstenbosch.
She was 14 years old when emancipation from slavery was declared in 1834.
After the completion of her post emancipation apprenticeship, she settled down to build a life dedicated to the healing of formerly enslaved people.
She was a founder member of St Philip Anglican Church on Chapel Street, District Six. Her body still bore the scars of whip lashes which she endured after repeated escapes while at Zonnebloem.
It was part of her attempt to find her daughter who had been separated from her and sold to other slave owners.
On 1 December each year, she invited friends and formerly enslaved people to celebrate their freedom. She died at the age of 90 on 16 June 1910, at her home and prayer centre, which was later demolished with the destruction of District Six.