William Davey is one of the most intriguing characters I have come across while researching for this book.
He was born in Carrickfergus in 1880, son of Robert and Jane Davey - he studied at Queens University and was a member of the Queen's University Officer Training Corps. Prior to the war he had been a barrister and a journalist winning an OBE for his work. He married Ruby Irene Davey and moved into a family home in Pier House Cultra.
At the outbreak of the war he was commissioned to the Northumberland Fusiliers - Tyneside Irish Battalion a Brigade of pals battalions from Newcastle with Irish family connections. William served as Major of the 4th Battalion throughout the war including on the front line during the Battle of the Somme where the Battalion suffered 539 casualties on the first day.
A religious and political man, William was also very found of his men - the local papers of the time contain constant references to the loyal service of his soldiers and appeals to people in Carrickfergus to send whatever money or gifts they can to men at the front.
A strong Presbyterian and servant of King and Country, William was also a rare Protestant Irish Nationalist and believed in a Home Rule government for Ireland within the UK. Just days after the armistice in 1918 Major Davey returned home to take part in the General Election as a pro-Home Rule candidate for the Irish Parliamentary Party, standing in Duncairn against the Unionist candidate Sir Edward Carson in the 14th December 1918 General Election. As the figures show he lost heavily polling only 17% of the votes.
|Irish Unionist||Rt Hon Sir Edward Henry Carson||11,637||81.05||N/A|
|Irish Nationalist||William Hamilton Davey||2,449||17.06||N/A|
|Sinn Féin||Dr Russell McNab||271||1.89|
In the two years following his health went rapidly down hill, he had contracted blood poisoning during the war and this had done untold damage to his health. He died on 29th August 1920 at his home in Bawnmore Road, Belfast leaving behind a widow and young family Dermod and Pat. At this funeral the coffin was draped in a Union Jack, a cap, sword and belt placed on top along with a laurel wreath with the inscription ‘To darling Daddy from Mammy, Dermod and Baby Pat’.
He is buried in Victoria Cemetery, Carrickfergus in Grave Location - C 35.