Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DAVIES, Samuel, clergyman, born near Summit Ridge, Newcastle County, Del., 3 November. 1724; died in Princeton, New Jersey, 4 February 1761. His parents were of Welsh descent. He was educated at home and in Rev. Samuel Blair's seminary at Fogg's Manor, and licensed to preach by Newcastle presbytery in 1746. He was ordained as an evangelist in 1747, and sent to Hanover County, Virginia, which the enmity of the civil authorities toward dissenters made a very difficult field. Through the influence of the governor he obtained a license to officiate at four places of worship about Hanover, which in 1748 was extended to three additional Churches. He subsequently engaged in a controversy with Peyton Randolph, the king's attorney, as to whether the English act of toleration extended to Virginia. Mr. Davies argued his side of the case before the general court, and afterward, when on a visit to England, brought the matter before the king in council, by whom the question was decided in the affirmative.
In 1753 Mr. Davies undertook a successful mission to England, with Gilbert Tennent, to solicit funds for the College of New Jersey, and was received with much favor as a preacher. He returned amid the excitement of the French and Indian war, and shortly after Braddock's defeat delivered a sermon on that event. In a note to another published sermon, delivered in the following August he alludes prophetically to "that heroic youth, Colonel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has preserved in so signal a manner for some important service to his country." The first presbytery in Virginia was established in 1755 through his exertions, and in 1758 he was chosen to succeed Jonathan Edwards as president of Princeton. He declined the honor, but it, was again urged upon him in the following year, and he then accepted it, but held it only eighteen months before his death. He was a fine pulpit orator, and published numerous sermons, a collection of which appeared after his death (London, 1767) and passed through several editions, both in this country and in Great Britain, one of which (3 vols., New York, 1851) contains an essay on the "Life and Times of Davies" by the Rev. Albert Barnes. Dr. Davies also wrote verses of merit, including an elegy on his old preceptor, Samuel Clair.
--His son, William, leaving Princeton College in 1765, entered the army, became inspector-general under Steuben in 1778, and enjoyed the friendship of Washington. He was afterward in the auditor's office, in Richmond, VA.
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