The Catholic Archdicese of Birmingham Archives

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HFD - Papers of Henry Francis Davis

Dates: 1868-1985

Number of records in this collection: 371


Henry Francis [Frank] Davis was born on 13 January 1903 in Leytonstone, Essex. His older brother Charles [Charlie] and he were brought up by their grandmother after their mother's death and lived with her in Birmingham. Their father [Harry] was absent during this period and fathered two more sons [Brendan and Harry]. Brendan was brought up mainly in the west country, his birth mother having returned to her native Ireland, whilst Harry lived with his father and mother (Harry Sr's new wife); Davis maintained communication with his half-brothers throughout his life. During the First World War Davis attended Cotton College. Charles was killed on the Western Front in 1918. After the war Davis entered St Mary's College, Oscott and in 1921 moved to St Charles' House, Oxford where he graduated in Greats. Owing to the house's closure in 1925, Davis moved to Fribourg, Switzerland to complete his training as well as his doctorate on the development of Newman's doctrine (a subject that he returned to frequently throughout his life). He was ordained on 22 December, 1928. Leaving Fribourg in 1930 he was, for a short time, on the staff of St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham. Four months later Davis returned to Oscott College and for twenty eight years resided there as a professor and lecturer, becoming Vice Rector in 1932; he was made a Privy Chamberlain in 1947. Towards the end of the Second World War Davis developed strong links with the German prisoners at a P.O.W camp in Colchester, frequently travelling from Oscott to the camp by bicycle to direct their studies; the repatriated prisoners were ordained on his recommendation. In 1958 Davis became the parish priest of Bearwood and at the same time the Vice-Postulator of the Cause of John Henry Newman. During this time, he attended the Second Vatican Council and was tasked with explaining procedings to the non-Catholic observers. In 1978 he moved from Bearwood to Eynsham, Oxfordshire, and the following year was appointed a Protonotary Apostolic; he remained at Eynsham until his retirement in 1984, when he returned to Birmingham. He died on 27 March 1986. [See his obituary in 'Archdiocese of Birmingham Directory 1987', pp.134-137 for full biographical details.]

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