Davis, Sir Edmund

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DAVIS, SIR EDMUND (1861–1939), mining magnate and art collector. Edmund Davis was born in Melbourne, Australia, and educated in Paris, where he studied art. From 1879 until 1889 he lived in the Cape Colony, where he built up a fortune in guano, copper, and railroads. He became an associate of Cecil Rhodes, engaged in mining exploration in various parts of southern Africa for many years. After 1889 he lived chiefly in London, and became an important financier in developing the minerals, especially the copper fields, of Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Rhodes made Davis a director of the British South Africa Company. He was also chairman or director of many other companies. He accompanied Rhodes on his visit to Kaiser William ii of Germany in 1898 for discussions on the Cape-Cairo cable. Davis collected early and modern paintings, and in 1915 presented a selection of pictures of the modern British school to the Luxembourg Museum, Paris. Another collection was given to the South African Art Gallery in Cape Town. Davis later settled in England, and became sheriff of Kent in 1930. He was knighted in 1937. He left large bequests to hospitals and established scholarships at London University.


P. Emden, Jews of Britain (1943), 429, 434. add. bibliography: odnb online; dbb, 2, 24–28.

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Davis, Sir Edmund

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