John Francis Davis

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Sir John Francis Davis
John Francis Davis.jpg
Chief Superintendent of British Trade in China
In office
December 1833 – January 1835
Preceded by Lord Napier
Succeeded by Sir George Best Robinson
2nd Governor of Hong Kong
In office
8 May 1844 – 21 March 1848
Preceded by Sir Henry Pottinger
Succeeded by Sir George Bonham
Personal details
Born John Francis Davis
(1795-07-16)16 July 1795
London, England, Great Britain
Died 13 November 1890(1890-11-13) (aged 95)
United Kingdom
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Emily Hurnfravs
Relations Samuel Davis (father), William Thomas Mercer (uncle)
Alma mater Oxford University
Occupation Politician

Sir John Francis Davis, 1st Baronet KCB (Chinese Translated Name: 戴維斯 or the obsolete term 爹核士) (16 July 1795 – 13 November 1890) was a British Diplomat, Sinologist, and the Second Governor of Hong Kong. He was the son of Samuel Davis and nephew to William Thomas Mercer (later Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong).

Early career[edit]

In 1813, Davis was appointed writer at the East India Company's factory in Canton, China (now Guangzhou), at the time the centre of trade with China. Because of his linguistic abilities, he was chosen to accompany Lord Amherst on his embassy to Peking in 1816.

On the mission's return Davis returned to his duties at the Canton factory, and was promoted to president in 1832. In the same year that he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.[1]

He was appointed Second Superintendent of British Trade in China alongside Lord Napier in December 1833, superseding William Henry Chicheley Plowden in the latter's absence. [2] After Napier's death in 1834, Davis became Chief Superintendent then resigned his position in January 1835, to be replaced by Sir George Best Robinson.[3] Davis left Canton aboard the Asia on 12 January.[4]

Governor of Hong Kong[edit]

In 1844, Davis became governor and commander-in-chief of the colony of Hong Kong. He was appointed governor of Hong Kong on 8 May 1844 only for his home to be robbed on 16 July 1844. During his tenure, Davis was much hated by Hong Kong residents and British merchants due to the imposition of various taxes, which increased the burden of all citizens, and his abrasive treatment of his subordinates.[citation needed] However, weekend racing began during his tenure, which gradually evolved into a Hong Kong institution. Davis also organized the first Hong Kong Census,[when?] which recorded that there were 23,988 people living in Hong Kong.

Davis resigned his commission and left Hong Kong on 21 March 1848, after his disagreements with local British merchants escalated.


In 1829 Davis, a member of the Royal Asiatic Society,[5] translated Haoqiu zhuan, using the title The Fortunate Union.[6] A French translation of the Davis English version was created by Guillard D'Arcy and published in 1842.[5]


He died on 13 November 1890 at the age of 95.


Mount Davis, as well as Mount Davis Path, Mount Davis Road, and Davis Street in Hong Kong were all named after him. Davis Street extends from the praya, New Praya, Kennedy Town, across Catchick Street, Hau Wo Street and Belcher's Street, to Forbes Street. Coordinates: 22°17′00″N 114°07′36″E / 22.28325°N 114.12670°E / 22.28325; 114.12670

Davis Street features[edit]

  • No. 1 Davis Street: Grand Fortune Mansion
  • No. 2 Davis Street: Davis Street Garden
  • No. 8 Davis Street: The Merton

Awards and honours[edit]


See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New creation
(of Hollywood)
Succeeded by
Francis Boileau Davis