James Pinson Labulo Davies

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James Pinson Labulo Davies
A portrait of James Pinson Labulo Davies, photographed in London in 1862.jpg
A portrait of James Pinson Labulo Davies, photographed in London in 1862
Born James Pinson Labulo Davies
(1828-08-14)August 14, 1828
Bathurst, British Sierra Leone
Died April 29, 1906(1906-04-29) (aged 77)
Lagos, British Nigeria
Resting place Ajele Cemetery
Residence Lagos, British Nigeria
Nationality Nigerian
Other names Captain Davies
J. P. L. Davies
Citizenship Nigeria
Education Church Missionary Society Grammar School
Occupation British Naval officer, merchant, sailor, businessman, farmer and philanthropist.
Years active 1848–1906
Employer Royal Navy
Known for Financing CMS Grammar School, Lagos and pioneering cocoa farming in West Africa
Home town Abeokuta
Spouse(s)
  • Matilda Bonifacio Serrano (m. 1859; d. 1860)
  • Sara Forbes Bonetta (m. 1862; d. 1880)
  • Catherine Kofoworola Reffle (m. 1889–1906)
Children Victoria Davies (daughter)
Arthur Davies (son)
Stella Davies (daughter)
Parent(s) James Davies (father)
Charlotte Davies (mother)
Relatives John K. Randle (son-in-law)

James Pinson Labulo Davies (August 14, 1828[1] – April 29, 1906[2]) was a 19th-century African merchant-sailor, naval officer, influential businessman, farmer, pioneer industrialist, statesman, and philanthropist who married Sarah Forbes Bonetta in colonial Lagos.[3]

Early life, education, and naval career[edit]

James Pinson Labulo Davies was born to James and Charlotte Davies in the village of Bathurst, Sierra Leone, then a British colony. His parents were recaptive Yoruba people liberated by the British West Africa Squadron from the Atlantic Slave Trade, and whose origins were in Abeokuta and Ogbomoso respectively.[1]

Davies entered the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Grammar School, (now known as Sierra Leone Grammar School), in Freetown in 1848, where he studied mathematics, Greek, biblical and English history, geography, music, and Latin. After completing his secondary education, he became a teacher with the CMS in Freetown. After his stint as a teacher Davies enlisted as a cadet with the British Navy's West Africa Squadron, and served on the HMS Volcano under Commander Robert Coote where he was trained in navigation and seamanship. Davies progressed from cadet to midshipman and eventually lieutenant.

Participation in the Lagos Bombardment of 1851 and merchant vessel career[edit]

Davies was a lieutenant aboard the HMS Bloodhound during the Bombardment of Lagos under the command of Commander Wilmot and Commodore Henry William Bruce and in which Oba Kosoko was ousted, resulting in the ascension of Oba Akitoye. During the bombardment the British Navy lost 2 officers and 10 men were wounded.[4] Lieutenant Davies was among the wounded.[5] Davies retired from the navy in 1852 and offered his services as a merchant vessel captain traversing the West African coast. He eventually settled in Lagos in 1856, where he became known as "Captain J.P.L Davies".

Personal life and marriages[edit]

A portrait of James Pinson Labulo Davies and Sarah Forbes Bonetta, photographed in London in 1862

Davies was first married to Matilda Bonifacio Serrano, a Spanish lady from Havana, who died in 1860, 9 months after their marriage.[6][7] In August 1862, Davies married Sara Forbes Bonetta, a protegée of Queen Victoria.[8] Sarah Forbes Bonetta, originally named Princess Aina, was a slave freed by Captain Forbes of the Bonetta after a meeting with King Ghezo of Dahomey. (Aina's village in Okeadan was raided by Dahomean warriors who killed her parents, West African royalty, when she was five; she became a slave in King Ghezo's court.) Sarah died of tuberculosis in 1880, and Davies married Catherine Kofoworola Reffle in 1889.[7][9][10]

Cocoa farming pioneer in West Africa[edit]

Davies is credited with pioneering cocoa farming in west Africa after obtaining the cocoa seeds from a Brazilian ship and also from the island of Fernando Po in 1879 and 1880.[11] Davies subsequently established a prosperous cocoa farm in Ijon, Western Lagos.[12] Davies also helped spread cocoa farming knowledge to Jacob Kehinde Coker, who used the proceeds from his cocoa farm to support Christian evangelical interests. J.K Coker also headed the Agege Planters Union, which spread the cocoa throughout Yoruba territory.[12] In April 1916, The Journal of African Society credited a native of Accra with introducing cocoa to mainland West Africa, but Justice W.B. Griffiths, colonial Chief Justice of Gold Coast (present day Ghana), issued a rebuttal in the June 20, 1916 edition of the crediting his father, Sir Brandford Griffiths, the British governor of Gold Coast from 1885–1895, with pioneering cocoa farming in Gold Coast, noting that Davies predated his father as the cocoa pioneer in West Africa. Justice Griffith wrote:

As far as I'm aware, the first person to plant cocoa on the main-land was the late Capt. J.P.L. Davies, a well known native of Lagos, who in 1882 used to tell me about the farm he had lately just made beyond the Protectorate of Lagos.[12]

Philanthropy and establishment of CMS Grammar School[edit]

Davies was also a close associate and friend of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther.[13] Both men collaborated on a couple of Lagos social initiatives such as the opening of The Academy (a social and cultural center for public enlightenment) on October 24, 1866 with Bishop Crowther as the first patron and Davies as its first president.[14]

In April 1859 Davies provided Reverend Thomas Babington Macaulay with the seed funding to establish the CMS Grammar School, Lagos: £50 (purchasing power of ₦1.34 million as of 2014) to buy books and equipment. With the seed funds, Macaulay opened CMS Grammar School on June 6, 1859.[15]

In 1867, Davies contributed another £100 (purchasing power of ₦2.68 million as of 2014) toward a CMS Grammar School Building Fund.[16] Other contributors to the CMS building fund were non-Saros such as Daniel Conrad Taiwo, AKA Taiwo Olowo, who contributed £50. Saro contributors also included men such as Moses Johnson, I.H. Willoughby, T.F. Cole, James George, and Charles Foresythe who contributed £40.[17]

Death[edit]

Captain Davies died at his Lagos home on August 29, 1906 and was buried at Ajele Cemetery in Lagos on August 30, 1906.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Elebute, Adeyemo. The Life of James Pinson Labulo Davies: A Colossus of Victorian Lagos. Kachifo Limited/Prestige. p. 1. ISBN 9789785205763. 
  2. ^ a b Elebute, Adeyemo. The Life of James Pinson Labulo Davies: A Colossus of Victorian Lagos. Kachifo Limited/Prestige. p. 234. ISBN 9789785205763. 
  3. ^ Andrew G. Lawrence; Afe Adogame. Africa in Scotland, Scotland in Africa: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Hybridities. p. 123. ISBN 978-9-00-4276-9-01. Retrieved February 4, 2015. 
  4. ^ Smith, Robert. The Lagos Consulate 1851-1861. Macmillan. p. 27. ISBN 9780520037465. 
  5. ^ Elebute, Adeyemo. The Life of James Pinson Labulo Davies: A Colossus of Victorian Lagos. Kachifo Limited/Prestige. p. 9. ISBN 9789785205763. 
  6. ^ Gwam, L. C. Great Nigerians: First Series - Volume 1. Times Press, 1967 - Nigeria. p. 40. 
  7. ^ a b Adeloye, Adelola. African Pioneers of Modern Medicine: Nigerian Doctors of the Nineteenth Century. University Press, 1985. p. 94. ISBN 9789781545658. 
  8. ^ Herskovits Kopytoff, Jean (1965). A preface to modern Nigeria: the "Sierra Leonians" in Yoruba, 1830-1890. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 286. 
  9. ^ L. C. Gwam (1967). Great Nigerians: First Series. 1. Times Press. p. 40. 
  10. ^ Raph Uwechue (1991). Makers of Modern Africa. University of Michigan (Africa Books Limited). p. 181. 
  11. ^ Olukoju, Akyeampong, Bates, Nunn, & Robinson. Africa's Development in Historical Perspective. Cambridge University Press, 2014. pp. 218–219. ISBN 9781139992695. 
  12. ^ a b c Elebute, Adeyemo. The Life of James Pinson Labulo Davies: A Colossus of Victorian Lagos. Kachifo Limited/Prestige. pp. 111–119. ISBN 9789785205763. 
  13. ^ Elebute, Adeyemo. The Life of James Pinson Labulo Davies: A Colossus of Victorian Lagos. Kachifo Limited/Prestige. p. 169. ISBN 9789785205763. 
  14. ^ Adedeji, J.A. The Church and the Emergence of the Nigerian Theatre, 1866-1914. Journal of Historical Society of Nigeria.6.1. p. 228. 
  15. ^ Elebute, Adeyemo. The Life of James Pinson Labulo Davies: A Colossus of Victorian Lagos. Kachifo Limited/Prestige. p. 190. ISBN 9789785205763. 
  16. ^ Herskovits Kopytoff, Jean. A preface to modern Nigeria: the "Sierra Leonians" in Yoruba, 1830-1890. University of Wisconsin Press, 1965. p. 244. 
  17. ^ Herskovits Kopytoff, Jean. A preface to modern Nigeria: the "Sierra Leonians" in Yoruba, 1830-1890. University of Wisconsin Press, 1965. p. 365 note 87.