DAVY, John

DAVY, John. Penzance 24.5.1790 — Ambleside, Cumbria 24.1.1868. British Physician and Chemist in Colonial Service. Son of Robert D. (died c. 1795) and Grace Millet. Educated in Helston and Barnstaple. Studies of chemistry in London and medicine at Edinburgh (M.D. 1815). Joined Army Medical Forces and served in Brussels and Paris. In 1817-19 (or 1816-20) army surgeon and doctor to the governor in Sri Lanka. Later stationed in Ionian Islands (1824-28), Malta (1828-35), and Constantinople (1839). Finally in 1845-48 Inspector General of Army Hospitals in the West Indies, stationed in Barbados (some sources claim, only from 1862 or 1864, but would a man over 70 be nominated to such an office – and the autobiography confirms the earlier years). Retired in 1858 and settled in Lake District. Married 1830 Margaret Fletcher, children.

In Sri Lanka he travelled much in inland and made many observations. Like his elder brother, Sir Humphry D., he was a noted chemist, the discoverer of phosgene and silicon tetrafluoride.

Publications: An Account of the Interior of Ceylon and of its Inhabitants with Travels in that Island. 8+530 p. 15 pl. L. 1821.

Notes and observations on the Ionian Islands and Malta; with some remarks on Constantinople and Turkey, and on the system of quarantine as at present conducted. 1-2. L. 1842; other books not related to South Asia, including the life of his brother and a book about fishing.

Sources: J. Davy, Some Notices of my Life. Ed. as manuscript by A. Lacey. 2018 (in http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/litscimed/files/2018/06/John_Davy_Some_Notices_of_My_Life_Final.pdf); Wikipedia; portrait in makingscience.royalsociety.org.

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