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The Davies Family


The patronage which Richard Smith sold to Mrs Martha Mylles remained in the family for more than 200 years, passing through various branches to the Speedes, the Warings and the Davies'.


In the 19th century the Davies family provided Jesus Chapel with three incumbents in succession, all remarkable men, dedicated to their vocation and dependable leaders in a time of great change. The Rev William Lewis Davies, a Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, afterwards Principal of Elizabeth College, Guernsey, came to the parish in 1847 and died in 1856, aged 60. His memorial, the Infants' school, was a fitting one in view of his interest in Education. He was succeeded by his nephew, the Rev John Silvester Davies, of Pembroke College, Oxford, a brilliant scholar and researcher, author of several books, the best known among them being "The History of Southampton, (1883) still very highly regarded by eminent historians. He resigned from Jesus Chapel in 1860, to make way for his cousin. After spending a year in Alexandria, he returned to Southampton as curate of St Peter's, and in 1864 became the first incumbent of St Mark's, Woolston.


The Rev Thomas Lewis Owen Davies, son of the Rev William Lewis Davies, was a graduate of Exeter College, Oxford. Like his cousin, he had written several books, and also had an interest in history, and a keen chronicler of the day to day events affecting his parish and his parishioners. He drew upon his store of local knowledge to write a number of articles for the "Southampton Times" in 1901 under the heading "Historical Notes", and they make fascinating reading today.

Though the chief concern of the Rev T L 0 Davies was for the spiritual welfare of his parishioners, he had a care for their minds and bodies also. He was a great organiser of evening classes, exhibitions, flower and vegetable shows, a debating society, a natural history society, welfare schemes and a sickness benefit society. He formed a cricket club which used to play on Pear Tree Green, and he sat shoulder to shoulder with them at celebratory suppers at the Royal Oak in Itchen Ferry. He was a good friend in time of trouble. When the Floating Bridge Company tried to renege on terms agreed with the Ferry men he was a firm leader of the opposition. When there was an encroachment on their landing places, and the Ferry men threatened to use violence he was a restraining influence, and brought them round the table to thrash out a compromise.


At first the Davies family lived at the Old Parsonage, but when the railway branch line from Southampton to Netley crossed their garden they decided it was time to move. The old house was sold for £1,800 - a far cry from the £10 estimated by the Rev Thomas Andrewes so many years before. A house called Woolston Lawn was purchased in its place and renamed Pear Tree Vicarage. It stood on land which had once been part of Nathaniel Mills' manor.

In 1910 the Rev T L 0 Davies celebrated his Jubilee as Vicar of Jesus Chapel. It was typical of the man that his gift from parishioners and friends should take the form of improvements to the interior of the church he loved so well. It was also typical of him that he should meticulously list every single gift item in the Parish Magazine of October, 1910, from the Reredos of Caen stone with alabaster panels and corbels for altar lights, right down to a new stone step, replacing the worn one at the West door.


The Rev T L 0 Davies continued to serve for a further seven years. He resigned in 1917, and died the following year, deeply mourned.




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