Alexander Davison

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Alexander Davison (1750–1829) was an English businessman and government contractor. He was a contemporary and close friend of Admiral Lord Nelson.[1]

Life[edit]

Davison was born on 2 April 1750 at Lanton, Northumberland. His business career began as a merchant in the British colony in Quebec before and during the American Revolutionary War. At his pinnacle he owned various interests from textile factories to shipping. He also worked as a supply agent for the British government procuring coal and other supplies for the military. Additionally his close friendship with Admiral Nelson brought him business as a prize agent after the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of Copenhagen.

Imprisoned for fraud in May 1804 as a result of his attempt to bribe the voters in one of England's rotten boroughs of Ilchester. He spent a year inside the King's Bench Prison in London. In 1809 Davison was again tried and found guilty on charges of fraud. This time though the accusations related to his activity as a supply agent for the British government. During these dealings he fraudulently (or at least carelessly) charged the government agency fees for goods supplied from his own factories. These fees were meant to compensate agents for the expense and effort of finding the cheapest supplier for the government's contract but Davison earned them as well as the usual profit margins on the goods he supplied from his factory. He served a sentence of twenty-one months inside Newgate Prison starting in May 1809.

Davison is responsible for several acts that glorified Nelson's public image. These included the creation of a medal commemorating the victory at the Battle of the Nile and the creation of the Nelson Memorial at his estate at Swarland, Northumberland. As a close friend of the Admiral he acted as an intermediary when Nelson's marriage to his wife, Frances Nelson fell apart due in large part to his affair with Emma Hamilton.

Davison died in 1829 in Brighton, England.

Family[edit]

Davison married Harriett, daughter of the banker Robert Gosling.[2] They had three sons and three daughters.[3] The children included the equerry Sir William Davison (died 1873), the second son.[4] The second daughter, Dorothy, married Samuel Edward Widdrington.[3]

References[edit]

  • Martyn Downer, Nelson's Purse (2004)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Chichester, Henry Manners (1885-1900). "Wikisource link to Davison, Alexander". Wikisource link to Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900. Smith, Elder & Co.. Wikisource. 
  2. ^ "Deaths". York Herald. 2 December 1826. p. 3. Retrieved 15 January 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
  3. ^ a b Horatio Nelson; Nicholas Harris Nicolas (10 November 2011). The Dispatches and Letters of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson. Cambridge University Press. p. 42 note. ISBN 978-1-108-03545-3. 
  4. ^ "Death of Sir William Davison, K.H.". Morning Post. 20 January 1873. p. 6. Retrieved 15 January 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Joseph Hunt
Treasurer of the Ordnance
1806–1807
Succeeded by
Joseph Hunt