George Augustus Davis

Known as GAD, George was a convict, entrepreneur, community worker and villain, who married Elizabeth Babington

Davis: The Earliest Generations 

There were many descendants who were early convicts, royal plotters, opportunists and entrepreneurs.  Some are covered on other pages of this web site.  

Prior to George Augustus Davis we have limited knowledge of the Davis family.  Click here to read about the charges against John Davis (George Augustus Davis' brother). A few stories stand out.  Here is one:

The first Sunday School

Charlie's great-grand uncle, Joseph Alfred Davis, was related by marriage to Adrian Newth.  Adrian worked at William King’s woolen mill in Dursley, Gloucestershire. When King provided a suitable space, Adrian became the first unpaid Sunday School teacher in England.  It was so successful the idea was suggested to Robert Raikes, who is credited later with being the originator of the Sunday School system. 



George Augustus Davis

One of our first Australian ancestors

George Augustus Davis was a convict.  He and his brothers, Edward and John, were convicted and transported for stealing brass and a quantity of meat.  (Ed: It is easy to be confused - George Augustus Davis had a son with the same name).

George Augustus Davis (senior), married Elizabeth Babington (her family's story is told on the Babington page).   

In one sense, GAD is the story of Australia, imprisoned for seven years, but able to make a go of it on becoming free.  He accumulated wealth through the tolls he managed.

But he wasn't always glorious.  On New Year's Day 1829 GAD was 'found at Cowley's house for the purpose of drinking and gambling, without his Master's authority'. This was not GAD's first infraction against convict regulations; previous occasions had resulted in loss of privileges, a whipping, and work on the chain gang. On this occasion he was sentenced to seven days on the tread wheel then returned to his master. 

Trip 'home'

In 1839/40 George Augustus Davis (GAD) and Elizabeth departed Tasmania - GAD to Sydney, Elizabeth home to Lincolnshire, sailing with her four children - George 9, Joshua 6, Elizabeth 3, and baby Charles. In 1842 Elizabeth gave birth in Spilsby, Lincs to a fifth child, Albert England.

She returned with her expanded brood to Sydney in 1843. Although the father of Albert is listed on his birth certificate as George Augustus Davis (GAD) that seems incredible, because GAD was prevented from returning to England, thanks to convict transportation regulations.

Furthermore, GAD was recorded as a resident of Camperdown in the government Sydney Census of 1841/2. 

Albert was obviously loved because he is buried beside the rest of the family in Sydney.   

Albert's birth certificate


GAD had 10 brothers and sisters born between 1799 and 1818 (I am told that by 1851 only seven of the eleven children are mentioned in the census.)  One of GAD's brothers,  Joseph,  next born after GAD, had a son, Adrian (pictured BELOW) whom I reckon had the Davis look about him; passed down the generations (information and picture kindly provided by 'Cuz' Jill).  Adrian was not mentally well and spent much time in asylums and hospitals.  He died by drowning, possibly bysuicide.  

The Tale of the Wretched Wood Thief

On May 27th 1857 it was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that George Augustus Davis (GAD) won his case against Bernard Ryan following the theft by Ryan of wood to the value of one shilling, the property of GAD. Ryan was sentenced to pay a penalty of ten shillings, plus one shilling (being the value of the wood), plus costs of four shillings and sixpence, or be imprisoned for seven days.

George and Elizabeth: Child Care Workers?

The eldest son of George Augustus Davis (the convict who married Elizabeth Babington) was also called George Augustus Davis.

At the time of his death in 1881 George Augustus Davis (junior) was living with his wife, Elizabeth (nee Chard), at Drummond Cottage, Liverpool, NSW, an 11-roomed cottage with extensive gardens, orchard and approximately 80 acres of cultivated land.

Use of the cottage had been granted free of charge to the Society For Providing Homes For Neglected Children, continuing the work of Samuel Laycock, philanthropist.

Presumably, George and Elizabeth were employed in some capacity by the Society.  Following his death, Elizabeth lived with their daughter, Susan Cole, in Newtown. 

Where is that dining table?

George Augustus Davis (GAD) (Charlie's great grandfather) and his wife Elizabeth's dining table and chairs, was made by GAD in the late 1840s.  They were bequeathed eventually to GAD's granddaughter, Dorothy Gill (born 1908), along with other GAD family memorabilia.  She lived in a unit in Gosford NSW, but it disappeared after her death.


'Drummond Cottage'

BELOW:  The Newtown Hotel (Sydney), once owned by Elizabeth Davis (nee Chard -your 6 x great-grandfather, Arthur).

GAD's tolls

The Toll Gate (ABOVE) was opposite the Poor House on Parramatta Road and was managed by George Augustus Davis (GAD - your 6 x great-grandfather, Arthur; that is, Charlie's great grandfather)GAD was the toll keeper of the Parramatta Rd toll gate from the late 1840s. 

He had nothing to do with the poor house, it just happens to be in the picture.  If you didn't pay the toll GAD would have you in court before you could say 'I beg your pardon?'.  GAD was a stickler when it came to collecting tolls or putting no-payers behind bars.

(Ed: Thanks, Suzanne)

On August 8th, 1846 the Cook River Trustees examined (and found correct) the books of George Augustus Davis, Collector of Tolls. Cook's River Rd. The income from the toll gate amounted to  £1,677-11-4. The largest expense, £1 129-4-11, was expended for 'stone material and labour to break and spread same'.   

GAD's Brothers: The Tale of Two Jimmys

GAD's oldest brother, James, born in 1799, died in 1809. A younger brother, James Alfred, was born on Christmas Day 1816.

GAD's brother, Edward, a barber of Dursley aged 20, 5'5" with dark brown hair and dark grey eyes, was tried at Gloucester Assizes on 31st March 1824 and sentenced to seven years transportation via the Princess Charlotte to Van Diemen's Land, where he absconded from a road party at Bereford's Creek 25th February, 1825.  Reward £2

(Ed: based on an article in the Van Diemen's Land Advertiser, 18th March 1825., March 18, 1825

What's in a name?

The common explanation for the origin of Davis is 'son of David' (as in Davidson).  But if heraldry counts for anything, Davis is synonymous with "Decide'.  


  • The headstones for George Augustus Davis (senior) and Elizabeth Davis (nee Babington), Newtown NSW.  Also buried with them is Charles Lighton Babington Cole, their grandson, who died aged 3.
  • 18 Horden Street, where Elizabeth (nee Babington) died 27 February 1895.  Her death was reported to authorities by her son-in-law, William Cole (husband of Susan, who was GAD and Elizabeth's granddaughter).  William gave his address on the death certificate as 198 King St, Newtown, which is a pub (virtually next door).  

Ed: The location of George and Elizabeth's grave is on Google Maps (thanks for finding it, Sarah)

BELOW LEFT: Elizabeth Davis (nee Babington) is the seven-times-great grandmother of Arthur, who lives half an hour's drive from where Elizabeth's sister is buried on Bruny Island, Tasmania (Arthur is the first of the most recent generation).    

BELOW RIGHT: Elizabeth's husband, George Augustus Davis (GAD - senior).