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Arnold Edwin Davey (1862–1920)

by Jean P. Fielding

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Edwin Davey

Arnold Edwin Davey (1862-1920), flour-miller and grain merchant, was born on 2 March 1862 at Pine Hut, near Truro, South Australia, eldest son of Edwin Davey (1839-1923) and his wife Phillis Vingoe, née Davey, his cousin, whom he had married at Kapunda on 8 March 1860. Edwin, the youngest child of Thomas Davey, farmer and cordwainer, and his wife Margaret, née Lean, was born on 18 July 1839 at Trannack, near Madron, Cornwall, England. He arrived with his family at Port Adelaide in January 1849. They farmed near Salisbury and at Light Pass. In 1851 Edwin went with his brothers to the Victorian gold diggings. He was educated at E. Planta Nesbit's school at Angaston and later studied engineering principles at Nesbit's night school after he began work in his uncle's flour-mill at Daveyston. In 1865 he and and his brother James bought the Penrice Steam Flour Mill near Angaston, trading as J. & E. Davey; three years later they were shipping flour in River Murray steamers to the eastern colonies. From 1869 Edwin traded alone, but on turning 21 his sons joined the business; fluent in German, they dealt easily with local German farmers.

Edwin bought his cousin's Daveyston mill in 1875 and, in 1880, built the Excelsior Mill at Eudunda. In 1885 he built the Eureka Roller Mills at Angaston. He leased and operated J. G. Neumann's stone mill at Eudunda in 1880-93 and in 1892 purchased the Salisbury roller mills. In 1901 he acquired the Ultimo Roller Flourmills at Pyrmont, Sydney, doubled their export capacity and took over a Melbourne mill. He developed trade with India, Europe, Egypt, South Africa, America and the Far East; his head office remained in Adelaide. Davey retired in 1906. A Wesleyan Methodist, he had been a preacher and Sunday school superintendent. A handsome, upright man, he lived in Adelaide after 1883 and was a trustee of the Pirie Street Methodist Church and benefactor to the Central Methodist Mission, the Aborigines' Friends' Association and the Young Men's Christian Association. Survived by his wife, two daughters and five sons, he died at Parkside on 8 November 1923 and was buried at Angaston. His estate was valued for probate at £28,892.

Arnold Edwin Davey was educated at Rev. James Leonard's School at Angaston and at Prince Alfred College. In 1883 he entered the Edwin Davey & Sons partnership and successively managed the Eudunda, Penrice and Angaston mills. From 1897 they used the 'Lion' brand trademark still in use in the 1970s. On 20 June 1883 he married Sarah Shannon at Yatara near Kapunda. He was thrice president of the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce, which he represented at overseas congresses, and was also president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia (1914-15) and of the Millowners' Association of South Australia (1894). He was a Freemason and in 1900 became a justice of the peace. He was a delegate to the Federated Employers' Council of South Australia, was consul for Peru, a director of insurance companies and a member of the Adelaide Voluntary Tribunal of Arbitration in 1896-1920. A well-read man, he took a keen interest in his church. He retired in 1915. While travelling through France, in 1920 he contracted erysipelas and died at Nevers on 8 March, survived by his wife and two sons. His ashes were interred at Payneham cemetery, Adelaide. He had been a popular figure and his untimely death was keenly felt. His estate was valued for probate at £22,016.

Select Bibliography

  • W. F. Morrison, The Aldine History of South Australia, vol 2 (Syd, 1890)
  • J. J. Pascoe (ed), History of Adelaide and Vicinity (Adel, 1901): H. T. Burgess (ed), Cyclopedia of South Australia, vol 1 (Adel, 1907)
  • Observer (Adelaide), 10 May 1902, 16 Sept 1916
  • Northern Territory Times and Gazette, 18 Feb 1915
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 11 Sept 1916, 18 July 1919, 15 Mar 1920, 9 Nov 1923
  • Register (Adelaide), 27 Aug 1919, 15 Mar 1920
  • Australian Christian Commonwealth, 26 Mar 1920, 11 Jan 1924, p 6
  • Davey papers, and For the Wind Passeth (manuscript, privately held).

Citation details

Jean P. Fielding, 'Davey, Arnold Edwin (1862–1920)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (Melbourne University Press), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


2 March, 1862
Truro, South Australia, Australia


8 March, 1920 (aged 58)
Nevers, France

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