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. The RAI also purchased notebooks and some other material at the auction of Davis's estate. At the auction of his library, Lot 245 (amongst others) was purchased by Piccadilly booksellter Bernard Quaritch, who bought books for A W Franks. This lot included 'a large collection of Original Drawings, Photographs, Authograph Letters etc. relating principally to Uncivilized Tribes, mounted in an album, half morocco, with patent lock, lettered "Galerie Anthropologie'" which is housed in the British Museum's collection, registered as 2017.2016.1.

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


Oxford Dictionary of Biography
Obit. British Medical Journal 4 June 1881 p.901
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