John Joseph Davies was born in
London, England, on the 16 October 1797.
His first wife was Mary Anne
Barker, whom he married at St Giles Cripplegate, in London, on the 19 February 1820. They had 5 known children, Margaret 1818-1819,
Louisa Jane 1822-1863, Margaret Emma 1823-1889, and two children called Elizabeth who died before the family emigrated.
Mary Anne Barker’s brother
Thomas had come to Australia in 1813, and was joined by two of his younger brothers, George and William in 1823. Thomas was
Apprentice Engineer to the colony’s first miller, John Dickson, and later married Dickson’s niece, Johanna.
After his marriage Thomas Barker set
up his own mill at Cockleshell Bay, and was joined in the business by his elder brother James Barker when he arrived in the
colony in 1829. It was at this stage that Thomas wrote to his sister Mary Anne and her husband John Joseph Davies, suggesting
that they also come to Australia, as the colony was in need of teachers.
James Barker’s wife Phoebe
(nee Wainwight) and her children, travelled with John Joseph Davies and Mary Anne on the Lady Rowena in 1930, arriving on
the 30 November. With Mary Anne was her daughter Mary Anne Susannah Schuldham Evans, from a previous marriage to John Evans,
who died in 1817. Also on board were John and Mary Anne’s two daughters, Louisa Jane, and Margaret Emma Davies.
In 1830 John Davies opened his
first school, known as the Commercial and Mathematical Academy. It was at No 1 Liverpool Street. Mary Anne set up a Dame School
for young girls at the same address. On 12 July 1839, Mary Anne Davies died age 38, and John Davies moved to ‘Plashett’,
at Jerry’s Plains in the Hunter Valley, which was the home of his daughter Margaret Emma and her husband, John Robertson.
John Joseph Davies married Caroline
Mary Leaper at Plashett on 22 July 1840. Caroline, who with her brother Samuel had been brought up by their aunt Mary Scobell
at Holwell Manor, Tavistock, Devon, after the death of their parents, and had travelled to Australia for health reasons in
1839. The Davies remained at ‘Plashett’ until 1843, when they moved to “Flowerbank” or ‘Maison
Fleur’ in Singleton. The Davies also opened a school for a short time at Maison Dieu. John and Caroline had 3 children,
John Henry, Blanche Margaret, and Clara Louisa. John Henry was born at Plashett, and the two girls at Flowerbank.
John Davies and his family travelled
to England in 1843, perhaps on hearing of the death of John Scobell, to attend to Mary’s inheritance. By 1845 they had
returned to Singleton, but in 1847 John Davies returned to London, where he accepted membership of the Haberdasher’s
Guild, after the death of his father, who was a furrier. Membership was by patrimony only, and only master tradesmen and their
legitimate sons could qualify for membership.
The Davies are not recorded again
in Australia until 1850, when John opened a school at Chippendale. Caroline Davies’ aunt Mary Scobell had died in 1849,
and Caroline was still in England when she died in 1851. John had returned with John Henry, to open the new school and find
accommodation, but after the death of Caroline, the school was not listed again,
Caroline died on 15 March 1851,
and 11 days later Blanche also died, both of tuberculosis. They were buried at
Brentford, Middlesex, England. John Davies travelled to England in 1853, to collect his youngest daughter, leaving his son
John Henry at Scone with the Robertsons.
After his return to Australia,
John Joseph Davies and his two small children lived at ‘Yarrandi’ with the Robertsons. He became tutor to
his own and the Robertson children. From 1860 the Robertsons and the Davies moved to Sydney, where they rented ‘Clovelly’,
which was later purchased by John Robertson. John Davies was last listed as a school teacher in 1861, living at Eliza Terrace
in Paddington, after which he also moved to ‘Clovelly House’. In 1872 John Joseph Davies was finally given a land
grant, in the Scone District, of two 40 acre blocks, when he returned to the area.
John Joseph Davies died at ‘Clovelly
House’ on the 27th June, 1880, and was buried at South Head Cemetery. The grave is unmarked, and situated
near the monument to Sir John Robertson. Clara Louisa also died at Clovelly one year later, and was buried at South Head cemetery
by John Henry Davies.