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David Davis (1797-1866)

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David Davis (1797 – 19 May 1866), was a leading figure in the South Wales coal industry and a founder of the steam coal trade.

David Davis was born in Llanddeusant, Carmarthenshire, in 1797.

At a young age, he went to Merthyr Tydfil, where he served an apprenticeship with a relative.

Opened his own business at Hirwaun. The business was successful and he soon became involved in small scale mining at Rhigos.

1821 Birth of son David Davis (1821-1884)

c1830 Birth of son Lewis

1831 Birth of son William[1]

The Rhigos colliery (with its wharf at Briton Ferry near Neath) was sold in 1847, but by that time Davis had taken a lease of valuable steam-coal seams on the Blaengwawr estate at Aberaman. He sank a pit therein 1843, and transported the coal to Cardiff on the Glamorganshire Canal until the Taff Vale Railway was opened in 1847.

At this time, Davis moved from Hirwaun to a house that he built at Blaengwawr. He also built another house, Maesyffynnon, for his son, David, who joined him in the business. Another son, Lewis, became sales agent in Cardiff.

1851 David Davis 54, merchant employing ... men, lived in Aberdare with Mary Davis 52, Lewis Davis 21, attendant in shop, Jane Davis 23[2]

Davis was an active Wesleyan and, in 1837, was instrumental in the building of a new chapel at Soar, Hirwaun to replace an older chapel that was turned into cottages. When Davis moved the main focus of his business operation from Hirwaun to Blaengwawr he encouraged a number of his workmen to follow him, and he established the Wesleyan Chapel at Aberdare, which was largely frequented by his employees.

In later life, Davis turned his attention to the Rhondda Fach valley, which at that time was almost entirely rural and uninhabited. After costly but at first unsuccessful sinkings, he finally struck a good seam at Ferndale.

Early in 1866, with his four sons, he established Davis and Sons. He was also active in public life as a member of the Aberdare Local Board of Health.

He died on 18 May 1866 and was buried at St John's Cemetery, Aberdare

Despite receiving a first grant of probate in 1866, his will was not proved until 1894 when the executor was his grandson Frederick Lewis Davis[3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. 1851 census
  3. National probate calendar