Select Davis/Davies Miscellany

Here are some Davis/Davies stories and accounts over the years:

Saint David

Tradition states that David was born in the 6th century near where St. Davids stands today on St. Davids Peninsula in Pembrokeshire.  He founded there on the banks of the Alun river a monastery and church at Glyn Rhosyn (Rose Vale) in an area originally known in the Welsh language as Mynyw and by the Romans as Menevia.  

The monastic brotherhood that David founded was very strict.  Besides praying and celebrating masses, they cultivated the land and carried out many crafts to feed themselves and the many pilgrims and travellers who needed lodgings. They also fed and clothed the poor and needy.  

Saint David died in 589.  Between 645 and 1097 his monastic community was attacked many times by raiders.  However it was of such note as both a religious and intellectual centre that support was always there for its sustenance and maintenance.  In 1090 the Welsh scholar Rhigyfarch wrote his Latin Life of David, highlighting David’s sanctity and thus beginning the almost cult-like status he achieved.  The present Cathedral at St. Davids was begun in 1181 and completed not long afte

The Davies Family of Gwysaney

The Davies family of Gwysaney in Flintshire in north Wales claimed descent from Cynric Efell, the son of Madog ap Maredudd (Prince of Powys) in the 13th century.

The patronymic Davies name was first assumed by John ap Davydd in the 1550’s.  His son Robert Davies obtained from the College of Heralds a confirmation of his family arms in 1581; and his son Thomas was a lieutenant-colonel for Charles I and constable of Hawarden castle.  Thomas later fought on the Continent for the King of Denmark. 

Later Davieses stayed at home in Flintshire.  Robert Davies married Anne Mutton in 1631 at the tender age of 15 and through her inherited the Llanerch Park estate.  The male line of this family ended in 1785.

William Davies the Golden Farmer

William Davies was born in Wrexham in 1627, but removed himself in early life to Gloucestershire where he married the daughter of a wealthy innkeeper and had by her 18 children. 

Later he and his family settled down in Bagshot on the Surrey-Berkshire border where he was, by all accounts, a successful farmer.  But he used this trade as a cloak.  For he had early taken to the road and robbed persons returning from cattle fairs or travelling to pay rent, mainly on Bagshot Heath.   He allegedly took only gold from his victims (and thereby paid in gold to avoid any identification of his plunder), while often leaving them intact with their jewels and other valuables. 

His identity was discovered since he was the only local farmer who paid his taxes in gold.  A picture of him was painted and hung in the Golden Farmer pub along the London Road.  One day it was remarked that the golden farmer looked more jolly than golden, so the pub changed its name and was henceforth known as the Jolly Farmer. 

William Davies was apprehended in 1690, but he eluded his pursuers and shot a pursuing butcher.  He was caught again, tried for murder while his previous crimes became known.  The so-called Golden Farmer was hanged on a hill on Bagshot Heath now known as Gibbet Lane

The Davis Family in Massachusetts and Connecticut

The Davis family, as Davys, dates back to about 1500 in Acton Turville in Gloucestershire. 

Thomas Davis left his home there in 1635 and made the dangerous journey across the Atlantic aboard the James to Boston and the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He moved from Boston to Haverhill in 1642 and was one of the first selectmen of the town in 1646.  Thomas remained active in town affairs until his death in 1683 at the age of 80 years. 

Grandson Cornelius migrated to Stafford in Connecticut in 1719 and his family became well established there.  They were renowned for their apple orchards from which they baked apple pies and in 1801 started a distillery to make apple cider and brandy.  The Davis distillery was only one of the Davis businesses. Daniel Davis and his sons operated a sawmill, a quarry, and a general store. 

Daniel’s son Daniel built his farm at nearby Somers in 1829.  This would be home for five generations of the Davis family.

The Davis Homestead in North Providence, Pennsylvania

The Davis family settled in North Providence, Pennsylvania sometime in the mid-1700’s.  Benjamin Davis gave land on which the North Providence Baptist church was built.  Benjamin’s son Milton had married Frances, the daughter of John Umstad the local Baptist minister. 

The Davis homestead, known as Umstad Manor, was built about 1785 and was visited by General Washington soon after.  The brothers Jesse and Nathan Davis were its first inhabitants and Hannah Eliza Davis later lived there her entire life.  The manor is believed to be one of the oldest houses in Pennsylvania still retained by descendants, in this case the Evansons, of the original builder.

Ethel Davis, Loyalist in Nova Scotia

Ethel Davis departed New York with his family and other Loyalists for Shelburne, Nova Scotia in 1783.  The year 1788 was the year that Ethel's wife Margaret remembered that they settled on Brier Island.  They were the seventh family, all Loyalists, on the island. 

The Davises raised sheep, milked cows, plowed the land with oxen, planted an orchard, and built log homes. They traveled by rowboat or by sailboat and learned to watch the strong tides and the weather. They caught fish and tended their sheep in the summer and carded and spun sheared wool in the winter. 

In early 1801 Ethel was injured at the launching of the first sailing vessel built at Westport.  He had fallen from a vessel’s mast and broken his leg.  The injuries proved serious and he died in May that year.

William Davis the Wexford Pikemaker

During the Irish uprising in Wexford in 1798 William Davis was arrested because someone had said that he was a blacksmith making pikes for the rebels.  He said he was a publican with an inn at Enniscorthy, but he was not believed.  He was sentenced to life transportation to Australia.

His initial treatment in New South Wales was brutal.  William was flogged twice, once for being an Irishman and a blacksmith and a suspected rebel, and once for not being a Protestant.

However, he survived these ordeals and by 1814 he had been granted a pardon and was able to secure land in Campbelltown.  He prospered and became a well-respected figure in his community.  In 1817 some of his friends got together to present him with a statue, of Jesus with a crown of thorns, to commemorate what he had suffered as an Irishman and a Catholic on his first arrival in Australia.

William Davis died in 1843. He had over the years become a beacon for the Catholic community in Australia. His memorial at Sydney’s old burial grounds reads:

“William Davis died on 17th August 1843 aged 78 years. He was one of the last survivors of those who were exiled without the formality of a trial for the Irish political movement of 1798."

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