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Francis Gordon Davis

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Francis Gordon Davis (1843-1869)


1870 Obituary [1]

MR. FRANCIS GORDON DAVIS, the younger son of Henry Davis, M.D., of Putney, was born at Tenbury, Worcestershire, on the 7th of Sepfember, 1843.

He received his early education at the Cathedral School of Hereford, and subsequently passed two years at Bergedorf, near Hamburg.

On his return, in 1860, he entered as a matriculated student in the applied science department of King's College, London, where he especially devoted himself to mechanics and the arts of construction, obtaining, in the first year, the workshop prize. The subjects of geology and mineralogy likewise attracted his attention, and it was this turn of thought which led to his taking up the department of mining instead of mechanical or civil engineering, for which he was originally intended.

In 1862 he became a student at the Royal School of Mines ; and at the find examination of the session 1863-64 he was awarded the De la Beche medal and prize.

Shortly afterwards he obtained an introduction to the mining firm of Messrs. John Taylor and Sons, and under their auspices he proceeded to the Wheal Friendship and other mines in Devonshire and Cornwall.

In the following year he went to the lead mines in South Wales, where he remained for more than eighteen months, working with the captains and miners during the day, and making plans and drawings, and arranging specimens of the different ores during his leisure in the evenings.

Soon after his return to London, in November, 1865, he obtained, through the Messrs. Taylor, an appointment for three years to the Gonnesa Mining Company at Iglesias, in the Island of Sardinia. During the first campaign (as the mining season is called) the important discovery of a rich Calamine ore was made, which added greatly to the work devolving on him. His health, however, remained good till nearly the end of his engagement, when he experienced a mild attack of the ague fever, which prevails in the island.

After several months his health was so much enfeebled that he returned to England to recruit, but by the beginning of October, 1868, he was able to resume his work. On his way to Sardinia he was occupied for a short time on a mining survey in the Vallee d'Aosta, near the foot of Mont Blanc, and did not arrive at Iglesias till the end of November.

A few weeks afterwards, whilst on a surveying expedition in the island, he was again struck down with another and far more serious attack of malarial fever, but he succeeded in reaching Leghorn, and repaired to the hotel Washington, where he sank rapidly, and died two days after, on the 11th of February, 1869, in the 26th Sear of his age. His remains lie interred in the British cemetery.

During the time he was in Sardinia he contributed a Paper “On the mines of the Gonnesa Mining Company,” which was read at the annual meeting of the Miners’ Association of Cornwall and Devonshire, and published by them in 1866 ; and in the following year, 1867, he sent another short Paper, which was read and published by the Association, “On the Calamine deposits of the Island of Sardinia.” Just before his last fatal illness he had commenced a Paper, intended for the Institution (to which he felt a pride in belonging), “On the Machinery for the Washing and Preparation of Lead Ores,” a subject to which he had paid much attention, and which he hoped would have been thought worthy of a place in the transactions. Whatever his hands found to do, whether for himself or his employers, he always performed with a will ; and although he was devoted to scientific pursuits, he became a skilled workman, and made his own models for the machinery he designed, as well as cabinets for his tools and mineralogical specimens.

Mr. Davis was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 1st of December, 1868.


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