Ernest Wells Williams, 84, a retired Washington court reporter and an economist by avocation, died of cerebral arteriosclerosis Wednesday at Manor Care-Arlington Nursing Center, which he had entered a week earlier. He lived in Arlington.

Mr. Williams had been a free-lance court reporter, working in both the municipal and federal courts here from the late 1920s until his retirment about 15 years ago.

A self-taught student of economics, he wrote two books, "Industrial Control for People," published in 1934, and "Economic Facts of the American Experiment," published in 1970.

In the 1930s, he was an early proponent of government regulation of manufacturers, distributors and retailers, whom he considered part of a vast public utility organization, and he exchanged letters with the White House on his ideas.

Mr. Williams was born in Bay City, Mich., and grew up in San Diego, Calif. He served with the Marine Corps during World War I and later attained the rank of captain in the U.S. Army Reserves before his retirement in the late 1930s.

He came to the Washington area in 1924 and worked for the Post Office Department before becoming a court reporter.

Mr. Williams was a member of the Army Navy Country Club.

He is survived by his wife, Gwendolyn, of Arlington; a daughter, Marilyn W. Sager of Wilmette, Ill., three grandchildren and four great-grand-children.