Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Davies, William (1814-1891)

1379437Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement, Volume 2 — Davies, William (1814-1891)1901Thomas George Bonney

DAVIES, WILLIAM (1814–1891), palaeontologist, born at Holy well, Flintshire, on 13 July 1814, was the son of Thomas Davies by his wife Elizabeth Turner. After going to school in his native town, he studied botany, and on 19 Dec. 1843 obtained a post in the British Museum, working at first on mineralogy, but afterwards devoting himself to vertebrate palaeontology. In this he not only acquired great technical knowledge as to the best methods of developing and preserving delicate specimens, but also was pronounced to be 'one of its most accomplished students.' He took an active part in the rearrangement of the national collection in 1880 when it was transferred from Bloomsbury to the new buildings in Cromwell Road, and gave most valuable assistance to Sir Antonio Brady [q. v.] in collecting and describing the mammalian remains found near Ilford. In 1887 he retired on a pension from the museum, and died at his residence, Colliers End, Hertford, on 13 Feb. 1891. He was twice married, the maiden name of the first wife being Bradford, by whom he had one son, Thomas Davies [q. v. Suppl.], and one daughter.

William Davies received the Murchison medal from the Geological Society in 1873 (first award), and became a fellow in 1877. He disliked literary composition, so that his scientific papers are not numerous, about fifteen in all, mostly contributed to the 'Geological Magazine,' and he published a ' Catalogue of the Pleistocene Vertebrata in the Collection of Sir Antonio Brady; 'but his extensive knowledge was ever at the service of others, for he was one of those men who cared more for the advancement of science than of himself.

[Obituary notices, Geological Magazine, 1891, pp. 144, 190 (with list of papers written by A. S[mith] W[oodward]), and Quart. Journ. of Geol. Soc. vol. xlvii., Proc. p. 56; private information.]

T. G. B.