The name David is of Hebrew origin meaning “beloved”, and it’s probably true that everyone (at least in the Western World) knows a David or Dave.
The first David we know of was a musician and shepherd boy who killed the Philistine giant Goliath with his slingshot. He was rewarded for his courage by Saul, king of Israel and Judah, and became good friends with Saul’s son Jonathan. When Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle, David became king.
He was a wise and compassionate king, who admitted his mistakes, ruled with justice and is traditionally regarded as the author of the Psalms.
Another famous David was the 6th century Welsh bishop who became St David, patron saint of Wales, no doubt named after the biblical King David. He was born in Pembrokeshire, became a monk and founded a monastery there, around 560AD. He is the patron saint of Wales and the surrounding area is now known as St Davids. As it has a cathedral, it qualifies as a city, Britain’s smallest city, with a population of only 1,600.
In Wales the most popular male name is David, also known as Dewydd, Dewi, Daf, Dai or Dafydd. Taffy is a nickname for someone from Wales, being an abbreviation of Dafydd. It also explains why the surnames Davis or Davies (son of David) are so prevalent in Wales. My own father was a Welshman, whose name was David, as was his father before him.
St David’s Day is celebrated on 1st March, when the leek or daffodil is traditionally worn. In ancient times, the Welsh army, fighting the Saxons, wore leeks in their hats to show which side they were on. Daffodils are worn because the flowers appear in early spring around the time of St David’s Day. Lloyd George wore the daffodil on this day and encouraged its use at the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1911.
There have been two Scottish kings called David, two British PMs, Lloyd George and Cameron, as well as world leaders such as David Ben-Gurion PM of Israel or David Lange PM of New Zealand.
It’s often abbreviated to Dave, Davy or in Australia Davo. The most famous David nowadays is probably David Attenborough, the much-loved naturalist and wildlife narrator. Other bearers include explorer David Livingstone, musician David Bowie, soccer player David Beckham and actors Wenham, Tennant, Jason, Niven, McCallum and Mitchell. Comedians called Dave include Allen and Hughes.
Davy Jones’ Locker is an idiom for the bottom of the sea, used as a euphemism for drowning or shipwrecks. The Davy lamp is a miner’s portable safety lamp with the flame enclosed with wire gauze to reduce the risk of a gas explosion. It was invented by Sir Humphrey Davy.
The phrase David and Goliath refers to an underdog tackling a powerful adversary.