David Davies (1880-1944) was a Welsh MP and philanthropist whose experiences as a soldier during World War One greatly influenced his lifelong cause of championing peace.
Davies was born into a family steeped in philanthropy. His grandfather David Davies was a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist and his sisters Gwendoline and Margaret became leading patrons of the arts in Wales. As a soldier during the Great War, Davies was horrified by the carnage and waste which he witnessed. He believed that war could be avoided, if its causes were properly understood, and upon his return from the continent focused his efforts into championing the cause of peace. To this end he established a new academic discipline, creating the world’s first department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University.
The first Chair in the discipline was endowed by Davies in honour of the American president Woodrow Wilson, the man who pioneered the concept of the League of Nations, of which Davies was amongst its chief advocates. Davies was one of the founders of the League of Nations Union and the foremost proponent of the creation of an international police force to help regulate world order. He later founded the New Commonwealth Society in order to advance his vision of international law and order. The spirit of the Society is still very much alive in the form of the David Davies Memorial Institute, which through leading academic scholarship continues to honour the legacy of its founder.
Davies’ other passion was health; in particular as a campaigner against Tuberculosis. Along with his sisters, Margaret and Gwendoline, he founded the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial Association which developed into a nation-wide scheme of sanatoriums and hospitals to care for sufferers of Tuberculosis.
As a monument to his twin passions, Lord Davies built the Temple of Peace of Health in Cardiff. The building symbolises his life’s work and was a gift to the Welsh people, given in memorial of Welsh soldiers who died during the Great War.
Throughout his life David Davies supported a range of other causes, such as the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, of which he was a passionate advocate. He was also a generous patron of the National Library of Wales.
Davies believed that the foundations of peace lay in the ‘eternal quest of justice’. Whilst this quest still continues in today’s world, the contribution of Lord Davies of Llandinam to the cause of peace cannot be overstated.