Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Davies, John (1570?-1644)

DAVIES, JOHN, D.D. (1570?–1644), lexicographer, was born about 1570 at Llanrhaiadar-in-Kinmerch in Denbighshire. His father, David ab John ab Rees ab Ednyfed, was a weaver, but his mother, Elizabeth, daughter of Lewis David Lloyd, was highly connected. Davies was at first educated by William Morgan, the translator of the Bible into Welsh, at the time vicar of a neighbouring village. He afterwards went to Ruthin school under Dr. Richard Parry, whose friendship he retained through life, and whose chaplain he became on Parry's elevation to the bishopric of St. Asaph in 1604. About 1589 Davies entered Jesus College, Oxford, where he remained for four years and proceeded B.A. 16 March 1593. He went to Wales in 1593, was ordained in 1594, and in 1604 was presented by the crown to the rectory of Mallwyd, Merionethshire. In 1608 he returned to Oxford; was admitted of Lincoln College, and proceeded to the degree of B.D. (30 June) without graduating M.A. He became rector of Llanymowddy in Merionethshire in 1613, and received the sinecure of Darowen in Montgomeryshire in 1615. On 21 March 1615–16 he took the degree of D.D. at Oxford, and in 1607 was appointed to the prebend of Llanyfydd in the cathedral of St. Asaph (Le Neve, Fasti, i. 87). Davies assisted Dr. Parry in the preparation of his great Welsh bible, which was published in 1620. His own great work, ‘Antiquæ Linguæ Britannicæ Dictionarium Duplex,’ which was published in 1632, gave him a high reputation as a scholar. As a clergyman and a magistrate Davies was held in high esteem, building ‘three publick bridges,’ and doing ‘other charities about Mallwyd where he lived.’ He married Jane Price, whose sister was the wife of Richard Parry, bishop of St. Asaph. He died without issue on 15 May 1644, and was buried in his own church at Mallwyd. His wife survived him, and remarried Edward Wynn, his successor in the rectory of Llanmowddy.

His chief works were:

  1. ‘Antiquæ Linguæ Britannicæ Rudimenta,’ first edition, 1621; second edition, edited by Rev. Henry Parry, 1809, Oxford.
  2. ‘Antiquæ Linguæ Britannicæ Dictionarium Duplex,’ the first part being Welsh and Latin, the second Latin and Welsh, 1632. The second part was the work of Thomas Williams [q. v.] of Trevriw, but the whole was edited by Davies. The manuscript of Williams's contribution is extant, and shows that Davies only printed a bare index of Williams's collections. Owen and Sir Richard Wynne of Gwydir showed great interest in the undertaking, and some important correspondence between Davies and Owen Wynne, chiefly dated in 1629, and dealing with the selection of a printer, is printed in ‘Gent. Mag.’ for 1790, pt. i. pp. 23–4. The title-page bears the imprint, ‘In ædibus R. Young, impensis J. Davies, Londini.’
  3. ‘Welsh Translations of the Articles,’ 1632 (?).
  4. ‘Welsh Translation of Parson's Christian Resolutions,’ 1632 (?).Many of his Welsh poems are printed in ‘Flores Poetarum Britannicorum,’ edited by D. Lewys, 1710. Manuscript collections of Davies's Welsh poems and proverbs are in the British Museum.

[Williams's Eminent Welshmen; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 587–9; Wood's Fasti, i. 262, 322, 363; Dwnn's Heraldic Visitations of Wales (Merrick), ii. 119; Pennant's Tours in Wales, ii. 224; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

A. W. R.