Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Davis, John (d.1622)

1215271Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 14 — Davis, John (d.1622)1888John Knox Laughton

DAVIS, JOHN (d. 1622), navigator, made several voyages to the East Indies as pilot and master. His name first appears in the company's court minutes, 1 April 1609, as having gone out pilot and come home master of the Ascension, and then going pilot of the Expedition, ‘notwithstanding some matter of misgovernment and misdemeanour objected against him.’ He had presented to the governor and company a journal ‘of all the courses, occurrences, and occasions of and in the last voyage.’ In 1614–15 he commanded the James, in which capacity his conduct gave rise to many charges of negligence, ill-government, and drunkenness. They were probably exaggerated, but not altogether without foundation, for he was not employed again as commander. In 1617 he was master of the Swan [see Courthope, Nathaniel], and was made prisoner by the Dutch at Pularoon, but was released and sent home. On his return in 1618, he wrote ‘A Ruter or Briefe Direction for Readie Sailings into the East India, digested into a plaine method by Master John Davis of Limehouse, upon experience of his five voyages thither and home againe.’ This ruttier is published in ‘Purchas his Pilgrimes,’ part i. p. 444. Davis was afterwards gunner of the Lesser James, and died at Batavia in March 1622.

[John Davis of Limehouse is mainly noticeable from an inveterate and persistent confusion between him and John Davys of Sandridge [q. v.], whose name is commonly but erroneously written Davis, but who died in 1605. The distinction has been clearly pointed out by Captain A. H. Markham in his Voyages and Works of John Davis (Hakluyt Society), Introd. p. lxxviii–lxxxiv. See also Calendar of State Papers (East Indies).]

J. K. L.