Rev. James Banks (Davies)…

James Banks was born on 29th May 1820, in Kington, Herefordshire. He was the second eldest of six children of Richard Banks, a solicitor from Cornwall and his wife Esther, the daughter of an apothecary from Talgarth in the Brecon Beacons.

James Banks attended Repton School, a boarding school in Derbyshire established in 1557. Obviously highly intelligent, James was admitted to Christ’s College Cambridge on 15th June 1839.  

For some reason I haven’t been able to establish James did not complete his studies at Cambridge but instead migrated to Oxford, matriculating at St Mary Hall on 29th Oct. 1841, age 21. He continued his studies at Lincoln College obtaining his M.A. in 1846 by which time he had already been ordained as a deacon (1845). In 1847 he married Frances Young, daughter of a “gentleman”, with whom he would ultimately have twelve children, and became Perpetual Curate of Christ Church, in the Forest of Dean, a role he maintained until 1853 when he became Head Master of Ludlow Grammar School.

Rev. James (get it?) remained Head Master at Ludlow Grammar until April 1857 when he inherited Moor Court, a large estate in Herefordshire, from his great uncle, James Davies, on condition he changed his surname to Davies which he duly did the following year by royal appointment.

In later life, the Rev. James Banks, now Davies became a Justice of the Peace for Hereford and Radnor, assumed the role of Diocesan Inspector of Schools for Hereford. He was a Prebendary of Hereford Cathedral, 1875-83 and distinguished classical scholar and translator of classical works.

He contributed classical articles for many years to the Saturday Review, and had a number of classical translations published.

Moor Court was a large estate comprising the mansion itself, a church, six farms and various other houses, cottages and land. The mansion was impressive, with eight live-in servants.

James died after a long decline on 11th March 1883.

So, what happened to the Moor Park estate and the family fortune? The simple answer is we don’t know. All we know for sure is that the estate was broken up in 1914, sold off as fifteen separate lots in an auction but that was thirty years after the death of James Davies.

What I suspect is this… of the Davies’ twelve children, eight of them were daughters, none of whom married but all were recorded in later years’ censuses as living off their own means, as was their widowed mother. So I think James’ widow, Frances, sold the estate not long after her husband’s death and split the money from the sale between her children to facilitate their subsequent independence. Three of her four sons lived to adulthood and all had professional careers, one as an inspector of schools, one as a clergyman who emigrated to South Africa and one as a solicitor.

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