Fallen soldier whose family founded local building society remembered by our University

A local soldier who fought during the First World War is being remembered on the centenary of his death by our University on Friday 4 November.

Arthur Edward Davis, Private in the 11th Royal Fusiliers who served in France, passed away on 4 November 1916, just a few days before the Battle of the Somme concluded.

His sacrifice inspired one of the first donations to establish the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College, sent to W. G. Gibbs, College Secretary, by J. H. Davis, Arthur’s brother, on 4 November 1921.

A brief note sent with a cheque for £105 – almost £10,000 today - survives in the University of Leicester Archives, requesting that the donation be received “In memoriam Arthur Edward Davis”.

Born in Leicester on 4 August 1882, Davis was the son of Samuel Davis, manager of the Leicester Permanent Building Society, and grandson of John Henry Davis, its founder. The family business, the Leicester Permanent Building Society, merged with the Leicester Temperance Building Society in 1974 to form the Leicester Building Society, a forerunner to the Alliance and Leicester bank.

Mr Davis’s memory continues to live on at our University - the Davis family home on Upper New Walk, The Friars, is now a property housing the Department of Criminology.

Rosie O’Connor, Legacy Officer with the Development and Alumni Relations Office, said: “I think it is fair to say, that without in memoriam gifts like this one, made by a brother who gave in loving memory of his sibling, set in the belief that with education comes peace and with the hope that no other family should have to experience what they had to, the University of Leicester as we know it; our research findings, our thousands of graduates, our breakthroughs, would simply not exist. For this upmost generosity in the face of such utter sadness we are forever thankful.”