For more than a century, the Davies family was Hobart’s dominant newspaper dynasty. John Davies (1813 or 1814–72) was transported for fraud to Hobart in 1831. After his emancipation, he worked in Van Diemen’s Land and New South Wales in a range of capacities, from amateur actor and publican to chief constable. A journalist on John Pascoe Fawkner’s Port Phillip Patriot from 1842, Davies purchased the Hobarton Guardian in partnership with Auber George Jones a decade later. On 5 July 1854, it was incorporated in a new paper, the Hobarton Mercury. Within a few weeks, Davies was the sole proprietor of what became the Hobart Mercury.
Davies was a member of the House of Assembly from 1861, and a decade later management of the Mercury shifted to his two sons, (John) George (1846–1913) CMG, KCMG and Charles Ellis Davies (1847–1921). George trained as a journalist and advanced to become general manager, a title he later ceded to Charles. In 1877, the pair launched a weekly newspaper, the Tasmanian Mail. In 1895, the liability company Davies Brothers Limited was formed, with Charles as managing director.
George served as mayor of Hobart City Council and, from 1884 to 1913, was a member of the House of Assembly. He was knighted in 1909. Charles Ellis served in the Legislative Council (1897–1920) and was Tasmanian representative at the Imperial Press Conference in London in 1908.
Sir George’s youngest son, Charles Reginald Davies (1883–1925), took over as chairman in 1921. He had worked in accounts and the photographic department before becoming company secretary in 1914 and managing director in 1921. His brother, Cecil Bertrand (Bert) Davies CBE (1876–1960), a leading Tasmanian engineer, became chairman of Davies Brothers in 1925 and served as managing director from 1931 until his retirement in 1946.
Charles Ellis Davies (1914–54), son of the original Charles Ellis, was director of advertising before serving in World War II. He became managing editor in 1944 and chairman in 1946. George Francis (Bill) Davies AO, CMG (1911– 87) worked in accounting and the commercial printery before serving as executive chairman from 1954 to 1971 and chairman until 1985. Bill was also the foundation chairman of radio station 7HO and television station TVT6.
In 1962, some family members decided to relinquish their entire holdings in Davies Brothers Limited, and the Herald and Weekly Times became the major shareholder in the company. In March 1988, Davies Brothers Limited became a wholly owned subsidiary of News Limited and the family link of four generations was severed.
REF: Cyclopedia of Tasmania (c. 1900).