Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Davis, William (1771-1807)

DAVIS, WILLIAM (1771–1807), mathematician, was editor of the ‘Companion to the Gentleman's Diary’ from its commencement in 1798 to his death. The ‘Companion’ was afterwards edited by John Hampshire, who died in 1825; and it ceased with the number for 1827. Davis was a bookseller at 2 Albion Buildings, Aldersgate Street, London, whence he issued catalogues. He described himself as a member of the Mathematical and Philosophical Society. In 1803 he published a revised edition of Motte's translation of Sir Isaac Newton's ‘Principles of Natural Philosophy,’ with additions and a life of Newton. In 1805 he revised Thomas Simpson's ‘Fluxions,’ which he published with a life of the author. Davis also wrote ‘A Complete Course of Land Surveying,’ ‘An Easy and Comprehensive Description and Use of the Globes and Keys,’ to Bonnycastle's ‘Algebra,’ ‘Mensuration,’ and ‘Arithmetic.’ He edited Colin Maclaurin's ‘Fluxions’ (1801), Rowe's ‘Fluxions’ (1809), and the sixth edition of Fenning's ‘Algebraist's Companion.’ He died on 8 Feb. 1807, aged 36. His widow Anne afterwards married J. S. Dickson, a bookseller and printer of 18 Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row, who afterwards moved (1812) to Bartholomew Close, Smithfield. In 1814 the name of the business was changed to Davis & Dickson, booksellers and printers, of 17 St. Martin's-le-Grand, Newgate Street, London. Mrs. Anne Dickson died on 15 Oct. 1822, when the business came to an end. The sale of the stock took place by auction in November and December 1834, and May 1836. The sale catalogue was called by De Morgan ‘a most remarkable catalogue.’

[Companion to the Gentleman's Diary, 1798–1827; and books mentioned above.]

G. J. G.