Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Davies, Rowland (1649-1721)

DAVIES, ROWLAND (1649–1721), dean of Cork, son of Rowland Davies of Bandon, co. Cork, by Mary Smith, whose maiden name was Scudamore, was born at Gille Abbey, near Cork, in 1649, and, having received his early education in that city under Mr. Scragg, entered Trinity College, Dublin, 23 Feb. 1665. He graduated B.A. 1671, M.A. 1681, and LL.D. 1706. It would seem that he had at first in view the medical profession; but on 9 April 1671 priest's orders were conferred upon him, and on the 11th of the following month he was admitted to the prebend of Kilnaglory, in the diocese of Cork. He was collated 26 Oct. 1673, and again in 1676, to the prebend of Iniscarra, in the diocese of Cloyne. In 1674 he exchanged his first preferment for the prebend of Iniskenny, in the same diocese; and he was instituted 10 Feb. 1679 to the deanery of Ross. To these benefices was added the prebend of Liscleary, in the diocese of Cork, to which he was collated 20 Oct. 1679. He composed a minute and accurate ‘Account of the State of the Diocese of Cork in 1682,’ which is preserved in manuscript in the diocesan registry. Dreading a repetition of the tragic scenes enacted during the insurrection of 1641, he left Ireland in company with many others in March 1689, and sought employment in the ministry in England. The first scene of his labours was the church of Camberwell, Surrey, of which his fellow-countryman, Dr. Richard Parr, was vicar; and though now depending entirely on his own exertions, and privately encountering many difficulties, he faithfully discharged the duties of his profession. Soon after, through the interest of friends, he was appointed by the corporation of Great Yarmouth to a lectureship in that town, which, however, in a few months he resigned. When King William visited Ireland Davies obtained an appointment as chaplain to one of the regiments proceeding thither, and he landed again in his native country 11 May 1690. His arrival at Belfast and the active part he took at the battle of the Boyne, the siege of Limerick, and generally through the whole Irish campaign, are particularly recorded in his ‘Journal,’ which has been ably edited by Richard Caulfield, LL.D., of Cork, and printed for the Camden Society, 1857. He was, with many more, attainted by King James, but after the close of the war he regained his preferments. In 1693 he became vicar-general of Cloyne, an office for which from his knowledge of canon law he was well qualified. In 1695 the county of Cork publicly acknowledged his ‘great services against the torys’ (Bishop Downes's Manuscripts, T.C.D.) In 1707 he became precentor of Cork, and resigning the deanery of Ross in 1710, he succeeded to that of Cork, on the death of Dean Pomeroy, by patent dated 17 Feb. In the same year he was also presented to the rectory of Carrigaline, near Cork, which he resigned in 1717. He had married in 1674 Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Robert Stannard, and granddaughter of Archbishop Boyle of Armagh, lord chancellor of Ireland, and by her, who died 28 Feb. 1715, he had four sons who reached manhood, besides other sons who died young, and several daughters. One of his sons was preferred to the archdeaconry of Cloyne in 1742. Full of years, and in the midst of his surviving relatives, Davies died at Dawstown, co. Cork, 11 Dec. 1721, and was buried in the family vault in Cork Cathedral, where there is an inscription to his memory. A fine portrait of him in his doctor's gown, and some of his manuscripts, are in the possession of his descendants. The pedigree of his family was entered at the visitation of Herefordshire in 1683.

Besides the interesting ‘Journal’ above mentioned he was the author of the following: 1. ‘A Letter to a Friend [Mr. Turner of Limerick] concerning his changing his Religion,’ London, 1692, 4to. 2. ‘Christian Loyalty, a Sermon preached in the Cathedral of Cork on 30 Jan. 1715,’ Dublin, 1716, 4to. 3. ‘A Truly Catholick and Old Religion, showing that the Established Church in Ireland is more truly a Member of the Catholick Church than the Church of Rome, and that all the Ancient Christians, especially in Great Britain and Ireland, were of her Communion,’ Dublin, 1716, 4to. 4. ‘A Reply to a pretended Answer to a Book entitled The Truly Catholick and Old Religion, in a Letter to the author of it’ (the Rev. Dr. Timothy O'Brien), Dublin, 1717, 4to; and there having been a rejoinder from the same, 5. ‘Remarks on a Pamphlet entitled Goliath beheaded with his own Sword, or an Answer to the Reply,’ &c., Dublin, 1720, 4to. A sermon by Davies appeared in 1717.

[Davies's Journal, edited by Caulfield; Brady's Clerical and Parochial Records of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, i. v.]

B. H. B.