Davies, James (DNB00)

DAVIES, JAMES (1820–1883), classical scholar, was born in Herefordshire 20 May 1820. His name was originally Banks, which he changed to Davies upon succeeding to property in Herefordshire in 1858. He was a scholar of Lincoln College, Oxford, and after taking his degree successively held an incumbency in the Forest of Dean and the head-mastership of Ludlow grammar school; he was also diocesan inspector of schools. After coming into possession of landed property he resided on his estate at Moor Court, near Kington, where he combined the functions of squire, clergyman, and banker, becoming a partner in his brother's bank and erecting a church in his own grounds for the convenience of his neighbours, for whom the parish church was too remote. His time, however, was principally devoted to literature, especially the pursuits of classical scholarship. For many years he wrote the majority of the classical articles in the ‘Saturday Review,’ and he was the author of a very remarkable essay on ‘Epigrams’ in the ‘Quarterly Review’ for January 1865. In 1860 he had published a metrical translation of the Fables of Babrius, from the text of his intimate friend Sir George Cornewall Lewis. This version included the apocryphal second part, the spuriousness of which was not then generally recognised. He also translated Hesiod, Theognis, and Callimachus into prose for Bohn's Classical Library, and in 1873 and 1876 wrote volumes on Hesiod and Theognis, and on Catullus, Tibullus, and Propertius, for Collins's ‘Ancient Classics for English Readers.’ A volume of original verse entitled ‘Nugæ’ was published in 1854. Davies was also an authority on architecture, archæology, topography, and horticulture. He revised several of Murray's Guides for the press, and contributed to the ‘Quarterly’ some delightful articles on English topography, and (July 1876) a very valuable one on ‘Ornamental and Useful Tree Planting.’ Davies was one of the most genial and urbane of men, esteemed and beloved by all who knew him, and especially valued and lamented in his own locality. He died after a prolonged decline of health on 11 March 1883.

[Personal knowledge.]

R. G.