DAVIS, JOSEPH, seaman employed by the HBC off and on between 1692 and 1715.
Davis served under Captain James Knight in the expedition of 1692–93, which recaptured Fort Albany from the French, and stayed in James Bay until 1697. He rejoined the company in 1702, sailing to James Bay in that year and returning to England in 1703. He did the same as commander of the Pery frigate in 1706–7, and in 1708 took the Eastmain sloop to Albany, returning in the Hudson’s Bay [II] (Capt. Michael Grimington). After the death of Grimington, Davis commanded this ship on voyages to Albany in 1710–11, 1712, and 1713–14.
In 1715 he was sent to York Fort as captain of the newly built supply ship, Hudson’s Bay [III], but failed to reach that post although he was reported as coming within 15 miles of it. The consequences of his failure were serious: the company in London received no furs from York for its annual sale; James Knight, governor at York, missed the year’s supply of trade goods. For want of those goods he could not fulfil his promise, given by the HBC explorer William Stuart to the Chipewyan Indians, to start trading at Churchill in 1715–16. Accordingly Davis was dismissed from the company’s service. So he disappears from Canadian history, a man more important for what he failed to do than for anything he did.