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Charles Davis

Charles Davis' Hobart shop, c 1887 (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)

Charles Davis (1824–1913), convict, transported for theft, on his release in 1847 began an ironmongery business in Hobart. An excellent businessman, he presided over continuing development, eventually controlling a business empire: a factory producing a wide range of ironware, an importing business, and four retail outlets around the island. Davis retained personal control until 1911, when he was 87, and his business became a limited company with him as chairman. Benevolent and charitable, this successful businessman rose from convict status to acceptance as a gentleman. Marrying five times, he fathered twelve children.

After his death his sons, grandsons and a great-grandson ran the company until it was taken over in 1971, ultimately becoming part of Harris Scarfe. The factory ceased production, and the original shop closed in 1984, the end of Charles Davis Ltd.

Further reading: A Alexander, Charles Davis, Melbourne, 1998.

Alison Alexander