Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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DAVIES , JOHN ( 1627? - 1693 ), ‘of Kidwelly ,’ translator ;

b. at Kidwelly, Carms. , the son of William Davies , ‘ yeoman ,’ on 25 May 1625 according to Anthony Wood — but Sidney Lee in D.N.B. suggests 1627 as being the more likely year because Davies described himself as 19 years of age in the year 1646 . He entered Jesus College , Oxford , 16 May 1641 , but, because of the Civil War , migrated to Cambridge , matriculating as of S. John's College , 14 May 1646 . He afterwards travelled in France , learnt the language well, and after returning to London ( c. 1652 ) devoted himself to the task of translating books on behalf of booksellers .

These translations, nearly all of works in French , are numerous — the D.N.B. lists over thirty of them, the British Museum catalogue over thirty, whilst the National Library of Wales has at least twelve. In date they range from 1654 ( Treatise against the Principles of Descartes ) to 1680 ( Blondell's Pindar and Horace compared ) or even later. Letters by him are prefixed to works by his friend John Hall of Durham , poet , whom he first met at Cambridge . He is sometimes credited with the authorship of A History of the Civil Wars of Great Britain and Ireland , 1661 ; he seems to have edited Enchiridion , 1686 , the work of his friend Henry Turberville .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ,
  • and the sources cited therein.


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959