Horatio Davies

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Davies in 1895.

Lieutenant Colonel Sir Horatio David Davies KCMG (1842–1912) was a London businessman, politician, magistrate and a driving force behind the establishment of Pimms as an international brandname.

Early life[edit]

Son of H D Davies Esq, he was educated at Dulwich College. Horatio had in fact been one of the last poor scholars of the original foundation of the College of God’s Gift in Dulwich, the official name of the College from its foundation (although Dulwich College was used colloquially in Horatio’s time there).[1] Horatio maintained that, as a small boy, he had seen the bones of Edward Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich College, when his tomb was moved.[2]


Horatio went on to become a Lieutenant Colonel in the 3rd Middlesex Artillery (V). His career was both of a political and business nature. He was said to have been in his enterprises loyal to his old friends but he disliked the intrusion of newcomers.[3]


In the early 1870s Horatio Davies took interests with his wife’s brother, Frederick Gordon, in businessman’s restaurants. They started with the London Tavern and Pimm’s Oyster Bar. Crosby Hall and the Holborn Restaurant followed with much success. Following these ventures, Gordon went on to found the Gordon Hotels group.[4] Horatio was also noted as owning the Ship and Turtle in Leadenhall Street.[3] He later sold Crosby Hall - one of the City's most ancient buildings, which had previously been saved a number of times from destruction, and it was later pulled down for an office block (the remains were salvaged and re-erected in Chelsea).[3]


James Pimm had invented the Pimms beverage as an aid to digesting the oysters his business was selling. After Pimm sold his business to Sir Horatio Davies, the brand was expanded as Horatio started the process of bottling the Number One Cup for other establishments to sell.[5] He also expanded the chain to five Pimm's restaurants.[6] Gradually, an export business was built up, so that by the time of Sir Horatio's death in 1912, Pimm's cocktail was known internationally, especially in the empire.[5]


Horatio was actively involved in law and politics. He was an Alderman of Bishopsgate Ward in London and he became the Sheriff of London and Middlesex in 1887 and Lord Mayor of London in 1897. His old school in the form of Dulwich College Rifle Volunteer Corps (a forerunner of the present day CCF), took part in his procession in 1897.[2]

He was also MP for Rochester from July to December 1892 and for Chatham from 1895 to 1906 as a member of the Conservative Party. In 1898 he was also a Magistrate for Kent and one of Her Majesty's Lieutenants for London.[7] As a magistrate he was regarded as just, but severe to wrong-doers, while tender-hearted for cases of distress.[8] He was made an Officer of the Legion of Honour.[9]

Personal life[edit]

In 1867 he married Lizzie the daughter of Charles John Gordon.[7] After her death in 1907 he married Pauline Marie Boniface in 1909.[9] He was a member of both the Carlton Club and the Junior Carlton Club.[9]


  1. ^ Darby, W., (1966), Dulwich Discovered, p.32, (William Darby: Dulwich)
  2. ^ a b Hodges, S, (1981), God's Gift: A Living History of Dulwich College, page 244, (Heinemann: London)
  3. ^ a b c Bernard Ash, (1964), The Golden City: London Between the Fires, 1666-1941, Page 172, (Phoenix House)
  4. ^ Elaine Denby, (1998), ‘’Grand Hotels: Reality & Illusion’’, page 241, (Reaktion Books)
  5. ^ a b Adrian Room, (1992), Corporate Eponymy: A Biographical Dictionary of the Persons Behind the Names of Major American, British, European and Asian Businesses, page 193, (McFarland & Co.)
  6. ^ JD Weatherspoon
  7. ^ a b Walford's County Families of the United Kingdom or Royal Manual of the Titled and Untitled Aristocracy of England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. (1899), (London: Chatto and Windus).
  8. ^ Robert Mellors, Old Nottingham suburbs: then and now, 1914.
  9. ^ a b c Who was Who Volume II: 1916-1928, page 134, A&C Black

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Knatchbull-Hugessen
Member of Parliament for Rochester
Succeeded by
The Viscount Cranborne
Preceded by
Lewis Vivian Loyd
Member of Parliament for Chatham
Succeeded by
John Hagan Jenkins