William Heath Davis’s older brother, Robert, was three years William’s senior. Robert was educated in private schools in the eastern United States and became the scholar that William was not. Robert’s life and career were centered in the Sandwich Islands, and he became a driving force in the intellectual, judicial and political community of Honolulu.
In 1853 Robert was appointed Commissioner of Customs for Hawaii. Two years later he was elected to the Hawaiian House of Representatives. From 1863-1865 he served on the government’s Privy Council as an advisor to the monarch.
On June 29, 1859, Robert served as one of the first trustees for Queen’s Hospital in Honolulu, a position which he held for four years. The hospital was authorized to “provide for sick and disabled seamen of other countries, or patients of any description who are fit subjects for hospital treatment.” On February 16, 1864, Robert was sworn in as the second justice on the nation’s Supreme Court, and he served in this capacity until July 8, 1868.
Robert was a steadfast influence in young William’s life, encouraging his younger brother through his letters to study and work hard.
Text from the 2009 exhibit “William Heath Davis in Hawaii”