John Davis, an English navigator, born at Sandridge, Devonshire, died Dec. 27, 1605. He distinguished himself by three voyages between 1585 and 1587 for the discovery of the northwest passage. In 1585 he discovered the strait which bears his name, and in the following year sailed along the coast of Greenland as far northward as lat. 72° 12'. In 1591 he went as second in command with Cavendish in his unfortunate voyage to the South sea. He afterward made five voyages to the East Indies, and was killed in the strait of Malacca by Japanese pirates. He invented a quadrant which was in use for taking the sun's altitude at sea till it was superseded by Hadley's sextant, and published accounts of two of his voyages, and curious works entitled "The World's Hydro-graphical Description " (1595), and " The Seaman's Secrets" (1595).
John Davis, an American jurist, born at Plymouth, Mass., Jan. 25,1761, died in Boston, Jan. 14, 1847. He graduated at Harvard college in 1781, and began the practice of law in Plymouth in 1786. He was the youngest member of the state convention on the question of adopting the federal constitution. For several years he was a member of the state legislature, and in 1795 was appointed by Washington comptroller of the treasury of the United States. In 1796 he was appointed United States attorney for Massachusetts, and removed to Boston. In 1801 he became judge of the district court, and served for more than 40 years. He was learned in many departments, and especially interested in the history and antiquities of New England, and was president of the historical society of Massachusetts from 1818 to 1843. Among his publications are a "Eulogy on George Washington," an "Attempt to Explain the Inscription on Dighton Rock," and an edition of Morton's "New England Memorial," to which he added copious marginal notes, and an appendix replete with curious information.