Jane Davy

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Jane Davy
Born5 February 1780
Died8 May 1855
Known foras a socialite
Spouse(s)Sir Humphry Davy

Jane Davy or Jane Kerr or Jane Apreece (5 February 1780 – 8 May 1855) was an heiress and socialite who, after having lost a rich husband, married Sir Humphry Davy.


Jane Kerr's (Davy's) father was a Scottish merchant who operated in Antigua and was married to Jane Tweedie. Kerr's father died in 1796, leaving her as his heir. Kerr came to notice when she married Shuckburgh Ashby Apreece who was the heir to the Apreece baronetcy but he died before his father in 1807. Kerr (then Apreece) was a rich widow who had travelled in Europe and she moved to Edinburgh where she established herself at the centre of Scottish literary society.[1] It was said that she had inspired the character of Corinne who was the protagonist in Anne Louise Germaine de Staël's 1807 novel. She had met Germaine de Staël but that influence is more reliably assigned to Diodata Saluzzo Roero.[2]

She turned down a proposal to become the wife of the elder Professor John Playfair and instead accepted the proposal of the celebrity scientist Sir Humphry Davy.[1] The new couple travelled to Paris, Florence and then Rome accompanied by Michael Faraday. During the trip Davy received a medal from Napoleon and Davy and Faraday proved that diamonds were flammable. They returned to England when Napoleon escaped from Elba.[3]

They continued to travel in Europe, but increasingly they travelled separately as they had a difficult relationship. Nevertheless, Lady Davy travelled to Rome when she heard that her husband had been taken ill there, and she accompanied him to Geneva where he died in 1829.[1]

Davy died in Park Street in London in 1855.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Sophie Forgan, ‘Davy , Jane, Lady Davy (1780–1855)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008 accessed 17 Dec 2014
  2. ^ Letizia Panizza & Sharon Wood, A History of Women's Writing in Italy, pp. 144–5.
  3. ^ Robert Hunt (1888). "Davy, Humphry" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co.