A HISTORIAN who has been credited with inspiring a generation of Oxford University undergraduates has died, aged 88.

Penry Williams spent three decades as a tutor at New College.

Although he saw his role as being primarily that of a teacher – and left the University of Manchester in 1964 because he wasn’t able to teach enough – he did plenty of research, particularly about the Tudor period.

He also published a succession of books including Life in Tudor England in 1963, The Tudor Regime in 1979 and The Later Tudors: England 1547-1603 in 1995.

As part of New College’s 600th anniversary celebrations in 1979 he helped compile a history of the institution. His final publication was a biography of Sir Walter Raleigh in 2011.

In 1985 he was considered for the post of Warden but was unsuccessful after a row with another fellow.

He served as chairman of the college development committee for five years until 1997 and as editor of the English Historical Review, an academic journal which has been published since 1886, between 1982 and 1990.

Penry Williams was born on February 25, 1925, in Calcutta, India, where his father Douglas was as a handicapper at the Turf Club.

Soon after his birth the family returned to England to live in Hertfordshire and then Breconshire in Wales after the death of his father in 1939.

He was educated at Marlborough College, where his love of history was cultivated by his teacher Hubert Wylie.

After leaving school in 1943 he joined the Royal Artillery but by the time he had finished his training, the Second World War had ended, although he was posted to India and then Java.

He first came to Oxford in 1947 as an undergraduate at New College, the start of his long association with the college.

While in Oxford, he met June Hobson who he married in 1952. They were together for nearly 40 years until she died in 1991.

By the time of his marriage he was working in Manchester but in 1964 he returned to New College where he would remain for the rest of his career. He retired in 1992 and became an honorary fellow of the college in 1998.

Much of his time in retirement was dedicated to helping asylum-seekers and he regularly visited the Campsfield House detention centre, near Kidlington, through his links with the Oxford charity Asylum Welcome.

Penry Williams died on Tuesday, April 30. He is survived by his partner Sylvia Platt, his children Jonathan and Sarah and his granddaughter Gwen.

His funeral took place at New College Chapel on Saturday, May 11.