David Davies, 1st Baron Davies

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David Davies, circa 1905.

David Davies, 1st Baron Davies FRGS (11 May 1880 – 16 June 1944) was a Welsh Liberal politician and public benefactor who was MP for Montgomeryshire from 1906 to 1929. He was a grandson of the great Welsh industrialist David Davies. As a philanthropist, he established the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial to combat tuberculosis in Wales, as well as the Wilson Chair of International Politics at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Davies was born in Llandinam, Montgomeryshire, the first child of Edward Davies and May Jones.[1] His father was the only son of David Davies, often known as David Davies Llandinam, was the greatest Welsh industrialist of the Victorian era, having made his fortune in the coal mines.[2]

He was educated at Merchiston Castle School and King's College, Cambridge, graduating in 1903.[3] His family's wealth allowed the young Davies to travel extensively to exotic locations, where he enjoyed game hunting. He visited Africa, Asia and the United States, including Alaska.[2] His two younger sisters, Gwendoline and Margaret, became renowned patrons of the arts.[2]


Politically and personally, Davies followed the lead set by his grandfather. In 1906, at just 26, he was elected the Liberal Member of Parliament for the Montgomeryshire constituency.

In the First World War, he commanded the 14th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers until 1916, when he was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to David Lloyd George.[2]

Following the war, Davies became an active supporter of the League of Nations. In 1929, Davies stood down prior to the general election to focus on international affairs.[2]

Despite this, Davies continued to support the official Liberal Party. He became President of Montgomeryshire Liberal Association and was at odds with his successor as MP, Clement Davies. In 1931, Clement Davies became a Liberal National and continued to support the National Government after the official Liberal Party moved into opposition in 1933.

In 1932, he established the New Commonwealth Society for "the promotion of international law and order," writing several books on the right use of force, notably The Problem of the Twentieth Century (1930), which was translated into German and other languages.

We shall never get real prosperity and security until we get peace, we shall never get peace until we get justice, and we shall get none of these things until we succeed in establishing the rule of law by means of the creation of a really effective international authority equipped with those two vital institutions, an equity tribunal and an international police force.

— Lord Davies, The Problem of the Twentieth Century, 1930[2]

His ideas influenced the writing of the United Nations Charter, especially with regards to sanctions and the transition of national armies to an international police.

On 24 June 1932, he was created Baron Davies of Llandinam, in the County of Montgomery, for public services.[4]

In 1938, with a general election likely to occur in the near future, Lord Davies put pressure on Clement Davies by persuading the Montgomeryshire executive to seek clarification from their MP on his views regarding the National Government and appeasement. The MP shortly after opposed appeasement and resigned the Liberal National whip.[5]


Like his sisters, Davies was a significant philanthropist who donated to a number of good causes both locally and nationally. In 1910, he contributed £150,000 (£15.4 million as of 2021) to the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial, which was formed with the aim of eradicating tuberculosis in Wales.[2]

He endowed perhaps the world's first Chair in International Politics, established in honour of Woodrow Wilson in 1919 at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth,[6] which also hosts the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies. He was also the president of the National Library of Wales.

Davies was the brainchild and leading funder of the Welsh Temple of Peace in Cardiff pledging £58,000 in 1934 (£4.15 million as of 2021) towards the erection of a building.

Family and issue[edit]

In 1910, Davies married firstly Amy Penman, daughter of Lancelot Tulip Penman of Broadwood Park, and had two sons:[1]

  • Maj. David Michael Davies, 2nd Baron Davies (16 January 1915 – 25 September 1944) married Ruth Eldrydd Dugdale, daughter of Maj. William Marshall Dugdale, and had two sons
  • Marguerite Elizabeth (26 April 1917 – 18 December 1930)

Four years after Amy's death in 1918, he remarried Henrietta Margaret Fergusson, daughter of James Grant Fergusson of Baledmund, Perthshire, and had four more children:[1]

  • Hon. Edward Davies (30 January 1925 – 26 October 1997)
  • Hon. Islwyn Edmund Evan Davies CBE (10 December 1926 – 5 October 2002)
  • Hon. Mary Myfanwy (20 November 1923 – 21 September 2001)
  • Hon. Gwendoline Rita Jean Davis Cormack (1 May 1929 – 4 June 2011)[7]

In 1944, while launching a new X-Ray mobile scanning unit at Sully Hospital (which the Temple of Peace in Cardiff had funded), Davies volunteered to undergo the first routine chest scan. The scan revealed advanced cancer from which he died from a few months later in June 1944.

His eldest son and heir, Major Hon. David Michael Davies, was serving in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was killed in action in September 1944, a few months after succeeding to the title. His eldest son succeeded as the third Baron Davies, days prior to his fourth birthday.[8][1]

A statue commissioned in honour of his Grandfather stands in Llandinam in Powys on the A470. The Llandinam Building at Aberystwyth University was named in his honour.


  1. ^ a b c d e Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. pp. 1049–1050. ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Lord Davies: Politics and Public Life in Wales". The Times. 17 June 1944. p. 6.
  3. ^ "Davies, David (DVS899D)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  4. ^ "No. 33838". The London Gazette. 24 June 1932. p. 4111.
  5. ^ Dutton, David (2008). Liberals in Schism: A History of the National Liberal Party. London: Tauris. ISBN 978-1845116675.
  6. ^ "The Legacy of One Man's Vision". Aberystwyth University, Department of International Politics. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  7. ^ England and Wales, Death Index, 2007-2017
  8. ^ "Fallen Officers". The Times. 23 October 1944. p. 6.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Humphreys-Owen
Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire
Succeeded by
Clement Davies
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Davies
Succeeded by
David Davies