The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Captain John Davy R.N.

Captain John Davy R.N.

A carte-de-visite portrait of Captain John Davy (1788-1876) of the Royal Navy.

The Navy List for 1862 shows that he was a Commander who retired with the rank of Captain on 1 July 1855. With more than twenty years experience as a Lieutenant and Commander (he received his Lieutenant’s passing certificate 5 January 1810 and was promoted to Commander 15 July 1814), he was entitled to a pension of 16s. 6d. per diem, which works out at a little over £300 per annum, a very comfortable sum at that time. However, he must have had a further, independent source of income, since the 1861 census shows him maintaining a household of five grown-up children, including four unmarried daughters, and five servants, namely a butler, a footman, a housekeeper, a lady’s maid, and a house maid (but surprisingly, no cook – perhaps she was away the night of the census). According to Mrs. Beeton, a household of this size would have been consistent with an income of £1000 per annum.

The census gives Captain Davy’s age as 72 (so he would have been 73 at the time of this portrait) and his place of birth as Ingoldisthorpe, Norfolk. Having travelled the world, he had returned to his roots – his address was Mount Amelia, Ingoldisthorpe, which a Norfolk gazetteer and directory of 1845 described as 'the delightful seat of Captain John Davy, R.N., built by John Davy, Esq., in 1745' situated 'on an eminence, commanding an extensive view of the ocean and the adjacent country'.

According to the IGI, Captain Davy was born on 5 June 1788, the son of Rev. William and Elizabeth Davy. He died on 18 August 1876.

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London on 19 May 1862.

Code: 124534
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