A PIONEER and author has finally received recognition for his life’s work after a plaque was installed at his grave in Clackmannan.

John Francon Williams was a journalist-turned-geographer and historian who went on to create one of the first books to detail the intensity of the world’s oceans.

Despite being born in Llanllechid, Wales, John had a number of relatives living in Clackmannan and it was there that he was laid to rest in 1911 in an unmarked grave.

It was John’s great-grandson Iain Williams who, after hearing tales of his ancestor, decided to research further and was amazed to find out how influential John had been once he began to piece his life together.

Iain, who is himself an author, told the Advertiser: “I came to Clackmannan to see if there was a tomb, but there was nothing. He was buried beside his wife, but there were no markings.

“I decided on the anniversary of his death, I would install a plaque for him. It felt really good to acknowledge him.”

Born in 1854, John began his career as a journalist in Liverpool before joining the Royal Geographical Society where he started writing books outlining the world and its oceans.

In 1881 John’s book The Geography of the Oceans was released and focussed on the intensity of the oceans and was described as a “new geographical work of great importance” at the time.

Despite a life which also included inventing a measuring ruler and pencils with removable leads, John was buried in Clackmannan cemetery in an unmarked lair.

Iain said: “I knew very little about him which is strange because he was such a great writer. As I got older I wanted to look into him further.

“I first thought: ‘What an interesting guy.’ He came from Wales before going on to open up his own magazine called Stories Illustrated.”

Around this time, John started working with Sir George Newnes, regarded as the founding father of popular journalism.

Sir George then bought the magazine, but was crushed when he found out that Stories Illustrated had been undervalued by around £30,000 which is the equivalent of £4m today.

Iain said: “There are many letters and articles in the archives which show that he [John] was swindled in the deal.

“It broke his heart and after that he went downwards.”

Despite the setback, John’s overriding legacy is his prediction in the 1800s that should the oceans not be treated properly, then the world would suffer as a consequence – a prophecy which is currently one of the globe’s main issues now.

The author decided to relocate to Clackmannanshire following the fallout from his deal with Sir George, but John’s life was to take several further twists.

After moving to the Wee County, John’s wife and both of her sisters died within the space of two days.

John’s life, on the other hand, was spectacularly spared in a harrowing brush with death. He had been waiting on the platform awaiting a train from Manchester to Clackmannan, but decided just moments before it arrived that he would not get on it.

That train ended up crashing into a locomotive at high speed, killing 12 people.