Davies, John (1627?-1693) (DNB00)

DAVIES, JOHN (1627?–1693), translator, son of William Davies, ‘yeoman,’ was born at Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, on (according to Wood) 25 May 1625. In May 1646 he described himself as nineteen years old, which makes 1627 a more probable year than 1625. He was brought up at Carmarthen; entered Jesus College, Oxford, 16 May 1641, but after the disturbances caused at Oxford by the civil wars he went to Cambridge, where he matriculated at St. John's College on 14 May 1646 (Mayor, Admissions, 78). Here he declared himself a presbyterian, and was patronised by the poet, John Hall of Durham. Afterwards he travelled in France, mastered the language, and returned to England about 1652. He settled in London and employed himself in translating for the booksellers. He died at Kidwelly 22 July 1693, and was buried there, ‘leaving behind him,’ says Wood, ‘the character of a genial, harmless, and quiet man.’

Davies is credited with the authorship of ‘A History of the Civil Wars of Great Britain and Ireland,’ dedicated to the Duke of Richmond, and published in 1661. The author's initials, J. D., alone appear in the dedication. The work was reissued at Glasgow in 1664. Davies's translations, nearly all of which were made from or through the French, are as follows:

  1. ‘Treatise against the Principles of Descartes,’ 1654.
  2. Sorel's ‘The Extravagant Shepherd, an Anti-Romance,’ 1654.
  3. ‘Letters of M. Voiture,’ 1655.
  4. ‘Apocalypsis, or a Discovery of some Notorious Heretics,’ illustrated, 1655.
  5. G. Naudeus's ‘The History of Magic,’ 1656.
  6. ‘Les Provinciales, or the Mysteries of Jesuitism,’ 1656.
  7. Scuderi's ‘Clelia,’ 1656.
  8. ‘Novels by Scarron;’ three were published separately in 1657, four others in 1662, the whole collected 1667.
  9. ‘A Further Discovery of the Mystery of Jesuitism,’ 1659.
  10. ‘Journal of Proceedings between Jansenists and Jesuits,’ 1659.
  11. ‘Hymen's Præludia,’ concluding parts of ‘Cleopatra,’ a romance in 3 vols. 1658, 1659, 1660.
  12. Some of the latter volumes of the Philosophical Conferences of the Virtuosi in France, 1661.
  13. Blondell's ‘Treatise of the Sibyls,’ 1661.
  14. E. de Aranda's ‘History of Algiers and Slavery there,’ 1662.
  15. ‘Olearius's Travels (1633–1650) of an Ambassador of the Duke of Holstein in Russia, Persia, and India,’ two parts, 1662, collected 1669.
  16. Solorzano's ‘La Picara, or the Triumphs of Female Subtilty,’ 1664.
  17. De la Chambre's Art how to Know Men,’ 1665.
  18. ‘The History of Caribby Islands,’ illustrated, 1666.
  19. Florus's ‘Roman History,’ 1667.
  20. ‘Murtadi's Egyptian History, from the French of Vallier,’ 1667.
  21. ‘The Unexpected Choice,’ a novel by Scarron, 1670.
  22. ‘Observations on Homer and Virgil,’ 1670, 1672.
  23. ‘Life and Philosophy of Epictetus, with Cebes' Emblem of Humane Life,’ 1670.
  24. ‘Epictetus Junior, or Maxims of Modern Morality,’ 1670, said to be an original compilation.
  25. ‘Account of the Ceremonies of the Vacant See,’ 1671.
  26. ‘History of Henry, surnamed the Great, King of France,’ 1672.
  27. ‘Prudential Reflections, &c. in Three Centuries,’ 1674.
  28. ‘Political and Military Observations,’ 1677.
  29. Sanctorius's ‘Mediana Statica, or Rules of Health,’ 1677.
  30. Tavernier's ‘History of the Seraglio,’ 1677.
  31. ‘The History of Appian of Alexandria,’ 1679.
  32. ‘Instructions for History, with a character of the most considerable historians,’ 1680.
  33. Blondell's ‘Pindar and Horace compared,’ 1680.
  34. Three Spanish novels, viz. (a) ‘All Covet, All Lose,’ (b) ‘The Knight of the Marigold,’ (c) ‘The Trepanner Trepann'd.’ Letters by Davies are prefixed to John Hall's ‘Paradoxes,’ 1653; Hobbes's ‘Letter of Liberty,’ 1654; ‘The Right Hand of Christian Love,’ 1655; ‘Astræa, or the Grove of Beatitude,’ illustrated, 1665; ‘Hierocles on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras,’ translated by Davies's friend John Hall, and prefaced by Davies with an account of Hall and his works, 1657; and ‘The Antient Rites and Monuments of the Church of Durham,’ 1672 (cf. Hearne, Coll., ed. Doble, i. 95). Davies seems to have edited ‘Enchiridion,’ 1686, by his friend Henry Turberville.
[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iv. 382–5; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Kennett's Register, 487, 527, 696; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vi. 279; Williams's Eminent Welshmen; Gent. Mag. 1785, ii. 500.]

S. L. L.