James William Davis


James William Davis FSA, FLA, FGL, FGS was born in Leeds into a family who had moved from Gloucestershire.

He was educated at Haley Hill College where he was one of the most successful students and excelled at chemistry.

In 1868, he and his father bought the dyeing business of Thomas Riley and established James Davis & Sons.

He was a dyer [1891] / a jeweller in Old Market, Halifax [having taken over his brother's  business George Davis Jewellers 1882] / one of the founders and a teacher at West Vale Mechanics' Institute  / an Honorary founder member of the Halifax Art Society / Chairman of the Public Library Committee / active in Belle Vue becoming a library and Bankfield becoming a  library, museum, and art gallery / a governor of Heath Grammar School / a member of Halifax Town Council [1879] / a town councillor [for Southowram] / Mayor of Halifax [1890-1893 (July)] / a Liberal / a member of the Probity [No 61] Masonic Lodge / a member of the St James [No 448] Masonic Lodge

He had a geological collection which was said to be the finest in England. He was an authority on fossils.

He laid the foundation stone for Halifax Technical College.

In [Q4] 1871, he married Emily Jane Green in Skipton.

Emily Jane was born in West Vale, the daughter of Aquilla Green

She was listed as a jeweller (employer) [1901]



  1. James Percy Avison [b 18th August 1873]
  2. Helen [b 27th May 1875]
  3. Alice [b 1877] who never married
  4. Emily Constance / Annie [b 1879] who never married
  5. William Frederick Wilkinson
  6. Elsie Jane [b 1887] who married Francis Columbo  Ward

In 1876, he built Chevinedge.

He had a private art gallery and museum at the house.

They were living there [1881, 1891].

He was one of the people to whom J. R. Smith dedicated one of his prints.

During 1891, his health broke down and he took a long sea voyage, recommended by his doctor. He went to live in Bridlington.

In 1893, he suffered a stroke and lost his speech.

He died shortly afterwards at Scarborough [21st July 1893].

Probate records show that he left effects valued at £12,064 9/5d.

Administration was granted to his widow Emily Jane.

In 1917, Emily Jane was living at Lauraville, Balmoral, Belfast.

She died at Chapeltown, Leeds [25th December 1935].

Probate records show that she left effects valued at £5,988 15/9d.

The will was proved by daughters Alice, Emily Constance and Elsie Jane Ward

He was buried at All Saints' Church, Dudwell [27th July 1893].

He is mentioned in the List of Local Wills: 1893

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:13 / 15th May 2021 / 5754

Page Ref: MMD145

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