Ellis William Davies


Ellis William Davies

Ellis William Davies (12 April 1871- April 1939) was a Welsh Liberal and later, briefly, Labour and Liberal National politician and lawyer.

Early life and work

Davies was born at Gerlan, Bethesda, Caernarfonshire, and educated in Bethesda and at Liverpool College. He worked as a clerk in insurance offices in Wrexham and Sheffield until he qualified as a solicitor in 1899. He passed final examination of the Law Society with first-class honours, winning the Law Society prize in 1899, after which he established a law practice in Caernarfon where he lived for the rest of his life ["Who was Who", OUP 2007] . He died at Caernarfon in 1939. [The Times, 1 May 1939]

Politics

A political radical, he was elected to Caernarfonshire County Council in 1904, later becoming an alderman, and he was also director of several companies and solicitor for the North Wales Quarrymen's Union. In the 1906 general election he was elected Liberal Member of Parliament for the Eifion division of Caernarfonshire, and he retained his seat until 1918.

During his years in Parliament, Davies sat on committees investigating land reform, the jury system, reform of the electoral system, compulsory purchases by local authorities, and reform of the House of Lords. He returned to Parliament as MP for Denbigh in 1923, but resigned in 1929 on grounds of ill health. In 1932, he was prominent in the discussions of the Presbyterian Church of Wales on formulating a parliamentary bill relating to the church [ [http://www.archivesnetworkwales.info/cgi-bin/anw/search2?coll_id=646&inst_id=1&term=ellis%20william%20davies Archives Network Wales - Ellis W. Davies Papers ] ] .

Davies and Lloyd George

During the First World War, Davies was one of a number of Welsh MPs who broke with Prime Minister David Lloyd George over his conduct of the war. Davies regarded Lloyd George’s ministry as bellicose and illiberal, conflicting with his own strongly held pacifist and pro-labour views [Emyr Price, "David Lloyd George", University of Wales Press, 2006; p.199] . Although Ellis Davies was never really close to Lloyd George he knew him quite well being a Caernarfonshire MP and his journal records a number of occasions when they discussed political questions [John Grigg, "Lloyd George: The People’s Champion, 1902-1911":Penguin, 1997: p373] or worked together on specific projects [John Grigg, "Lloyd George: From Peace to War, 1912-1916": Penguin, 1997: p42] . At the 1918 general election Davies, as a supporter of the Asquithian Liberals, did not receive the coalition coupon and was heavily defeated, coming bottom of the poll [K O Morgan, "Wales in British Politics, 1868-1922": University of Wales Press, 1963, p.283]

Labour and Liberal National

Davies joined the Labour party in 1936, only to leave early in 1939 because of its foreign policy. He believed that Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement was more likely to keep the peace than Labour’s support for intervention abroad. As a supporter of social reform, he felt that there was plenty of work to be done to improve social conditions at home and this could not be done if the country was at war. He then chose to associate himself with the Liberal Nationals, the allies of Chamberlain's Conservative government, although at the age of 68 years it was probably not in the hope of finding another seat [The Times,9 February 1939] .

References

Papers

The papers of Ellis Davies, 1889-1939, comprising his diaries, journals, correspondence, press cuttings, addresses, articles and memoirs, together with printed and typescript memoranda, reports, policy documents and official publications are deposited at the National Library of Wales.


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