William S. White was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the only son of Capt. Chester B. and Fannie W. White. After graduating from college, he taught school for a few years before commencing the study of law in the office of his brother-in-law, Judge John Tackett Goolrick. He was admitted to the bar in 1875 and practiced with Judge Goolrick for several years. When Goolrick bought a local newspaper and renamed it The Recorder, he placed William in charge of the editorial department. At about this same time, John B. T. Suttle died and the position of Commonwealth’s Attorney for Stafford County, Virginia became available. White was appointed to this position, took up residence near Stafford Courthouse, and won the subsequent election. A newspaper notice stated, “Mr. W. S. White, who was appointed Commonwealth’s Attorney of Stafford county to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of the late Judge Suttle, and who, we learn will be a candidate for the position at the election in May, has moved from Fredericksburg to Stafford Court House” (Fredericksburg Star, Jan. 17, 1885). William served as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Stafford from 1884 to 1894.
After ending his term in Stafford, William moved back to Fredericksburg and renewed his activity at the newspapers, first with the Free Lance and then with the Fredericksburg Star. He was part owner of the latter when he died. William was one of the original members of the Battlefield Park Association and was chairman of the Battlefield Park Commission. In 1896 he was elected mayor of Fredericksburg and was president of the Virginia Press Association (Free Lance, Nov. 27, 1897).
In 1891 he married Helen (Sibley) Stokes (1841-1911).