Dr Barnard Davis (Biographical details)

Dr Barnard Davis (medical; British; Male; 1801 - 1881)

Also known as

Davis, Joseph Barnard; Davis, J B; Barnard Davis


Physician and craniologist; travelled abroad in the 1860s with John Thurnam (1810-1873) gathering specimens.
Davis was interested in the physiognomy and physique of Indigenous people around the world. His life-long interest resulted in his large collection of human remains, ethnographic and archaeological objects, portraits and paintings of Indigenous people, and his large anthropological library.
After his death Davis’ collection of books and objects was sold at a series of sales in 1883. A. W. Franks (q.v.) purchased a number of objects at these sales, and they later became part of the British Museum’s collections. These included a collection of portraits of Tasmanian Aborigines which Davis’ had purchased in 1856 from the artist John Skinner Prout, and a collection of ethnographic objects, paintings and pictures of Australian Indigenous people, many collected by G. A. Robinson (q.v.) in the 1830s and 1840s, which Davis had purchased from Robinson’s widow in 1869. Also donated photographic portraits of Maori people.

See AOA Ethdoc 1987 - papers relating to J Barnard Davis.


Entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Biography

Welch, E A & Barnard Davis, J. 1870-1871. 'An Account of the Chatham Islands, Their Discovery, Inhabitants, Conquest by the Maories, and the Fate of the Aborigines', Journal of the Anthropological Society of London, Vol. 8, pp. xcvii-cviii.
MacDonald, H. 2005. Human Remains: Dissection and Its Histories, Melbourne: Melborune University Press