Fremantle Stuff > People > Edward Davies
Edward William Davies (1855-1904, born Fremantle) was elected Mayor of the Municipality of Fremantle in 1901, but was removed two months later on the grounds of insanity. He is interred at Anglican A392, with a splended monument, right next to Samson Avenue (the main cortege entrance).
[EW] Davies was the son of Alfred Alexander Davies who had arrived in Fremantle in 1834 and who had [among other issue] another son called George Alfred Davies (1846-). EW Davies was born in Fremantle in 1855. In 1875 his father died, and in December that year Davies married Kate Murray. In July 1876, Davies appeared in court on a charge of seduction brought against him by William Thorpe, a farmer, on behalf of his daughter Rosina.
In the early 1880s Davies became a pawnbroker. At the same time, he was working to improve his social position in Fremantle: he joined local lodges, institutes and societies and was active on their committees, and in 1887 became rate collector to the Fremantle Municipal Council. He eventually resigned as rate collector in August 1888 after protesting that "from the very illiberal manner his demands had received in many quarters since starting in July, in consequence no doubt of the general depression, he felt that his talents were not equal to the occasion." Despite this, Davies took up the position again in early 1890.
With the onset of a gold rush in Western Australia 1893, Davies’ property investments paid dividends and he was elected to Fremantle Municipal Council. In July 1894 he was also elected to the colony's Legislative Council, and in 1897 his profile appeared in W. B. Kimberly's History of West Australia: A narrative of her past, together with biographies of its leading men. The piece noted that ‘there is a happy disposition suggested in his face, which on personal acquaintance is established most emphatically.’
However, in 1901, having just been elected unopposed as Mayor, he was found to be unfit for office.
His brother, George Alfred Davies (below) was Mayor in 1895.
Edward William Davies is seated on the left. He was a Councillor on the Fremantle Municipal Council from 1894-1902 and was Mayor in 1901. George Alfred Davies (on the right) was a committee man on the Fremantle Town Trust in 1871 and Councillor with Fremantle Town Council 1871-1883 and Fremantle Municipal Council 1883-1887. In 1895 he was Mayor of the Municipal Council. FHC text and photo #637.
What follows is the biographical entry for Edward Davies from Kimberly's 1897 History.
EDWARD WILLIAM DAVIES, EX-M.L.C.
THE spirit of patriotism to the land of our birth should be strong within us all, and the native-born of Western Australia show a staunch adherence to the principle. Many can be found who worthily uphold it in almost every walk of life—political, commercial, and social. Love of country has formed the theme of famous songs and famous stories, and it should be a dominant characteristic of every man. We cannot coincide with the cynical Dr. Johnson, who described patriotism as "the last refuge of a scoundrel," but rather echo the sweet sentiments of Sir Walter Scott in his "Lay of the Last Minstrel."
These run strong in the veins of some Western Australians, who have ably defended the colony against the vitriolic-tipped arrows thrown by carping critics. Having grown with the colony, so to speak, the natives are in a position to know its possibilities and requirements, and happily they are to be found associated prominently with the legislation of Western Australia, both in the municipal and Parliamentary spheres.
In Mr. Edward William Davies we have a gentleman who is strong in his advocacy of the colony's possibilities, and whose loyalty towards it is unquestionable. Edward William Davies was born in Fremantle in 1855. His father, Alfred Alexander Davies, arrived in Western Australia about 1834—some five years after Captain Fremantle first landed at the point which has ever since borne his name. Mr. Davies' father engaged in business in Fremantle for many years. He died in 1875. After having finished his schooling—in those days education was not so easily procured as now—young Edward proceeded to Perth, and after acquiring a thorough knowledge of the business, became manager of a general store. When two years had elapsed he returned to Fremantle and started in the business world on his own account as a general storekeeper, commission agent, &c. That was in 1879, and he continued till 1890, when he relinquished the store, and has since devoted himself to the general agency business, and the management of real estate properties. These, with municipal and lodge duties, keep him a busy man. We shall give an outline of his usefulness as a citizen and a public man. Three years ago—in 1894—Mr. Davies was, with Mr. Congdon and Mr. Kidson, elected a member for the Central Province in the Legislative Council, and the electors were wise in choosing him as one of the triumvirate which the constitution allowed them, for up to the time when pressure of private business compelled him to resign his seat, he did gallant service. In earlier years Mr Davies transacted much important work for Fremantle in the collection of rates, auditing, &c., and thus in 1893, when he was elected to a seat on its Council, he was eminently qualified to fulfil the duties of the same. His brother, Mr. G. A. Davies, in 1895, acted as Mayor of Fremantle. Mr. E. W. Davies is well-known in the Oddfellows' societies throughout Western Australia, and in the promotion of the undoubted benefits which these societies confer, he has taken a leading part. He was for fifteen years secretary of the M.U.I.O.O.F. in Fremantle, an office which he still holds. In Fremantle matters he has always taken active interest, and in those things, more especially, which tend to the progress of the town. With the Fremantle Literary Institute he has had a long association, and is at the present time vice-president of this valuable institution. He is also a director of the Fremantle Building Society. In the world of sport Mr. Davies has been to the fore, having been for many years secretary of the Fremantle Racing Club, and in the promotion of healthy athletics he has always been identified. He has been president of the Fremantle Football Club, the Fremantle Cricket Club, and still holds other offices, whilst he is patron to innumerable smaller clubs in the district. Mr. Davies is a sound believer in the future of mining in Western Australia, and has shown his belief in the most practical way—investment. Knowing that a good deal of Fremantle capital was invested in the goldfields, he thought it advisable to have a Stock Exchange established there, and accordingly some eighteen months ago he began to move in the matter, with the result that the Stock Exchange of Fremantle became an accomplished fact. He holds office as chairman of this body at the present time (1896). Mr. Davies has done a good deal for Fremantle in an unostentatious way, and there is a happy disposition suggested in his face, which on personal acquaintance is established most emphatically.
Edward Davies' unusual and rather splendid monument, in Fremantle Cemetery Anglican A392. 'I have suffered'.
Kimberly, WB 1897, History of West Australia: A Narrative Of Her Past Together With Biographies Of Her Leading Men, Niven, Melbourne: 28-29. Available online from Wikisource.
Martyr, Philippa & Aleksandar Janca 2011, 'A mad mayor of Fremantle: the mysterious illness of Edward Davies', Australasian Psychiatry, available online in full.
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