November 3, 1723, Newcastle, Delaware.
February 4, 1761, Princeton, New Jersey.
Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, New Jersey.
As an adult, Davies said:
I am a son of prayer, like my namesake, Samuel the prophet, and my mother called me Samuel, because, she said, I have asked him of the Lord.
Davies joined the Presbyterian church at age 15. He became a licensed Presbyterian minister in 1746. The next year he was licensed as an evangelist and sent to Virginia. A court in Williamsburg granted him a license as a
dissenting minister, the first such license given in the colony of Virginia.
Davies’ wife and son died in 1747, and in 1748 he accepted a call to begin a ministry in Hanover County, Virginia. Like the Wesleys, he traveled throughout his
pastorate by horseback. He preached to thousands, including the slaves.
He became so well known that King George II of England invited him to preach at the royal chapel when he and Gilbert Tennent were in England raising funds for the College of New Jersey. During that sermon, Davies reportedly stopped and spoke directly to an astonished George II:
When the lion roars, all the animals in the jungle fall silent; and when the Lord speaks, the kings of the earth shut their mouths.
In 1759, Davies accepted a call to become president of the College of New Jersey (later renamed to Princeton University). He served in that position until his death 18 months later.