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Sir John George Davies (1846–1913)

After a very long illness, Sir George Davies, M.H.A., passed away early yesterday morning at his late residence, Hobart. Sir George had been unable to attend to his Parliamentary duties for some weeks, and his death was not at all unexpected. 

Sir George Davies, K.C.M.G. (1909), was a son of the late Mr. John Davies, M.H.A., founder of the Hobart Mercury, and was born in Melbourne on February 17, 1846. He was educated at the Melbourne Grammar School, Launceston Grammar School, and Hobart High School, and then took his place in the office of his father's newspaper. It was not many years afterwards that he succeeded to the post of general manager, a position he held in conjunction with his brother. Sir George Davies' career in Parliament commenced in 1885, in which year he was elected as member for the Fingal district in the House of Assembly. He occupied that seat for 18 years, and only relinquished it on the re-distribution of electorates, when he decided to stand for Denison, and was successful, maintaining his hold on the constituency until his death. While still representing Fingal, Sir George was chairman of committees from 1892 to 1903, and in the latter year was elected to fill the position of Speaker. This he retained until the present session, when, owing to ill-health, he was not a candidate for the chair, which went to Captain Evans. Sir George Davies has filled numerous municipal positions, being elected an alderman of Hobart in 1884, and occupying the Mayoral chair in the years 1885, 1886, 1897, 1899, 1900, and 1901. He was granted the decoration of C.MG. in 1901, and was made K.C.M.G. in 1909.

He devoted much energy to the cause of national defence, more particularly to rifle shooting, in the promotion of which he took a very deep interest. Indeed, it is doubtful whether, looking through the list of those who have taken a hand in controlling the destinies of rifle shooting in Tasmania, any name will appear with clearer impress than that of George Davies. An enthusiast in the pastime from the day he first donned the uniform of the old Tasmanian Rifle Regiment, of which he was so justly proud, he spared no pains to make men proficient with the rifle. Comparing mere drill and marksmanship, he would frequently remark, "Any man can march— not every man can shoot." Never a brilliant shot, he nevertheless put up some creditable scores in his younger days, and during later years, after entering politics, he frequently performed with distinction in the "Parliamentary" matches at association meetings, both in Tasmania and on the mainland. It is, however, as an organiser and administrator in connection with affairs rifle that he showed his great ability. This was manifest in a most pronounced manner in 1885. The Government grant for the annual championship matches had lapsed, Lieutenant Watchorn having finally won the "big" medal, when Major Davies and a few other enthusiasts— north and south—decided that the time had arrived for the formation of a Tasmanian Rifle Association. With the subject of this notice working enthusiastically at the southern end of the island, and the late Captain Will Hunt in the north, success was certain, and the prosperity of the association to-day is a lasting monument to their memories. Marksmen generally who have had the pleasure of the company of the deceased —and they are scattered far and wide throughout the Empire—will regret to learn of his death. For many years he was hon. secretary to the Commonwealth Council of Rifle Associations of Australia, and was in 1902 captain of the first Commonwealth rifle team at Bisley, which won the much-coveted Kolapore Cup. Sir George Davies held the rank of colonel. He was prominently connected with exhibitions, and was commissioner for Tasmania at Paris in 1889. He was Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons of Tasmania since 1896, and was the representative of the Grand Lodge of England. 

In the cricket world Sir George Davies, either as a player or spectator, was a prominent figure from boyhood. In the dim past Sir George (then Mr. George) Davies seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously, that a Southern Tasmanian Cricket Association be formed for the purpose of promoting the game of cricket generally. He was also mainly instrumental in securing the present Association Ground, which all cricketers justly feel proud of. In 1863 the Wellington club, which became defunct when district cricket was created, was formed, and a little later Sir George became captain, a position he occupied until his retirement from active participation in the game. He played for Tasmania against W. G. Grace's English team, which visited Hobart in 1874. Sir George regularly captained the Tasmanian teams when on tour. Besides being a keen and enthusiastic player for half a lifetime, he took a prominent part in the management of the game, and one of his greatest hobbies was the encouragement of young players. The death of Sir George removes a most prominent figure in Tasmanian cricket circles since the formation of the association, and cricketers from one end of the state to the other will deeply regret the passing of one who played his part nobly and well in the history of the game. He took part in his first North v. South match as far back as 1865, and played in representative cricket long after most men have retired. Up to a quite recent date he dearly loved "a hit," and didn't a bit mind being "hit." His enthusiasm in the game was not by any means confined to club or big cricket. With the "office" team he was a frequent player, and nothing pleased him more than that the secretary should invite him to take part in a country trip and play for the Mercury against the village team. Cricket has lost a warm friend in the death of Sir George Davies. 

Deceased was a staunch patron of the turf and, as Mr. "J. George," raced some good horses. 

Sir George Davies was one of the most popular men in Tasmanian public life. His disposition was warm and genial. He made many friends, and he kept them. 

Out of respect to deceased's memory, flags were half-mast on the Public Buildings and institutions and many of the places of business in Hobart. It was the same in Launceston, where the news was received with deep regret. Flags were half-masted at the Public Buildings, Town Hall, Examiner office, and C.T.A. Club.

Original publication

Citation details

'Davies, Sir John George (1846–1913)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 July 2024.

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