Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Davys, Mary

DAVYS, MARY (fl. 1756), dramatist and novelist, a native of Ireland, became the wife of the Rev. Peter Davys or Davis, master of the free school of St. Patrick's, Dublin, after whose death in 1698 she resided for some time at York. Dean Swift, in his ‘Journal to Stella’ (21 Feb. 1712–13), says he has ‘been writing a letter to Mrs. Davis at York. She took care to have a letter delivered for me at lord treasurer's; for I would not own one she sent by post. She reproaches me for not writing to her these four years; and I have honestly told her it is my way never to write to those whom I am never likely to see, unless I can serve them, which I cannot her, &c., Davis, the schoolmaster's widow.’ Mrs. Davys afterwards kept a coffee-house at Cambridge, where she died. Writing in 1725 she remarks that she had been ‘left to her own endeavours for twenty-seven years together.’

She was the author of: 1. ‘The Northern Heiress, or the Humors of York, a comedy, as it was acted at the New Theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields,’ London, 1716, 12mo. 2. ‘The Reform'd Coquet, or the Memoirs of Amoranda,’ a novel, London, 1724, 12mo. 3. A collection of her ‘Works,’ 2 vols. London, 1725, 8vo, which contains, in addition to those already mentioned, ‘The Self-Rival, a comedy. As it should have been acted at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane;’ ‘The Merry Wanderer;’ ‘The Modern Poet’ [in verse]; ‘The Lady's Tale’ (written in 1700); ‘The Cousins,’ a novel; and ‘Familiar Letters betwixt a Gentleman and a Lady.’ 4. ‘The Accomplish'd Rake, or the Modern Fine Gentleman. Being the genuine Memoirs of a certain Person of Distinction,’ London, 1756, 12mo.

Thirty-six letters from Dean Swift to her and her husband were formerly in the possession of Dr. Ewen of Cambridge.

[Baker's Biog. Dram. (1812), i. 178, iii. 87, 256; Lowndes's Bibl. Manual (Bohn), p. 604; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.; Swift's Works, ed. Scott (1824), iii. 118; Ware's Writers (Harris), 261.]

T. C.