David Davies (industrialist)
David Davies (18 December 1818 – 20 July 1890) was a Welsh industrialist and Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1874 and 1886. Davies was often known as David Davies Llandinam (from the place of his birth, Llandinam in Powys), in order to differentiate him from others of the same name.
Davies was the son of David Davies and his wife Elizabeth. He attended the day school at Llandinam but was primarily self-educated. He began work as a workman and went into agriculture and then became a railway contractor. In due course he became a coal magnate, and was an important figure in the industrialisation of the Rhondda Valley. He founded the Parc and Maendy collieries, and constructed the docks at Barry. He was also responsible for the construction of railways across rural mid Wales including the very difficult crossing of Tregaron Bog in the construction of the line between Lampeter and Aberystwyth in 1866. It is reputed that he bought up the entire year's production of sheep fleeces in Ceredigion to lay as a foundation for the railway line on the bog. He was a director of Brecon and Merthyr Railway, J.P. for Montgomeryshire and chairman of the Llandinam School Board.
David Davies first sought election to Parliament at the 1865 General Election when he ran for the Cardiganshire county seat following the withdrawal of Henry Richard. He was, however, unsuccessful, and lost to Sir Thomas Davies Lloyd of Bronwydd, a Whig landowner. Davies was, however, elected as Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Cardigan Boroughs in 1874 and held the seat until 1885, when the county and borough seats were merged under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. He was then elected MP for Cardiganshire county seat in 1885. Davies was a poor public speaker, but his support in Cardiganshire was neverthless considerable owing to factors including his patronage of the new university college at Aberystwyth and his connections within the Calvinistic Methodist denomination, which had over 13,000 members in Cardiganshire. His success in 1885 was also underpinned by a particularly effective Liberal Association, organized by H. C. Fryer, an Aberystwyth solicitor, and which set up mechanisms to ensure the registration of voters. Trains were even organized to convey voters who had migrated to the South Wales coalfield back to their native county to cast their votes.
Break with the Liberal Party and the 1886 General Election
In 1886, however, but Davies broke with Gladstone over home rule for Ireland and at the 1886 general election he stood as a Liberal Unionist candidate, having initially indicated that he would retire from politics. A number of his associates such as Robert J. Davies, Cwrtmawr followed him into the Liberal Unionist camp.. The election split the Liberal Party in Cardiganshire and the election was hotly contested with almost all the landowenrs, including those previously regarded as having Liberal sympathies, supporting Davies. He also received the support of several prominent Liberals, especially from his own Methodist denomination. Eventually Davies was defeated by William Bowen Rowlands, the Gladstonian Liberal candidate, by a mere nine votes, a result which was largely attributed to the infleunce of nonconformist ministers over their congregations. Rowlands served until 1895.
During his lifetime, he was also known by the nicknames, "Top Sawyer" and "Davies the Ocean". His father was a sawyer and lived on the south side of the Severn valley in Llandinam so that in winter the house was shaded from the sun because of the enclosing hills. Once he had started to amass his fortune, he built Broneirion, a grand country mansion on the north side of the river that would enjoy sunshine all year round, which is maintained in good order to this day in the ownership of Girlguiding Cymru. In order to gain access to the house, Davies built the first iron bridge in Montgomeryshire.
Davies married Margaret Jones, daughter of Edward Jones of Llanfair in 1851. His grandson, another David Davies, continued Llandinam's philanthropic activities and was elevated to the peerage. Llandinam's two granddaughters, Gwendoline Davies and Margaret Davies, donated their substantial art collection to the National Museum of Wales.
- Ivor Bulmer-Thomas: Top Sawyer: David Davies of Llandinam (Golden Grove, Carmarthen, 1988) ISBN 1-870876-10-5
- Debretts House of Commons and the Judicial Bench 1881
- Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "C" (part 1)[self-published source][better source needed]
- Morgan. Cardiganshire Politics. pp. 322–2.
- "Meeting in support of Mr D. Davies". Aberystwyth Observer. 26 June 1886. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- Morgan. Cardiganshire Politics. pp. 323–4.
- "Cardiganshire Election and its lessons (editorial)". Aberystwyth Observer. 17 July 1886. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Morgan, Kenneth O. (1967). "Cardiganshire Politics: The Liberal Ascendancy 1885-1923". Ceredigion 5 (4): 311–346.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by David Davies
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Sir Thomas Lloyd, Bt
|Member of Parliament for Cardigan Boroughs
1874 – 1885
Lewis Pugh Pugh
|Member of Parliament for Cardiganshire
1885 – 1886
William Bowen Rowlands