Bishop Thomas Frederick Davis (1804-1871) was born on a plantation near Wilmington, North Carolina on February 8, 1804. He attended a preparatory school that was attached to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and upon graduation attended the University proper. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, he returned home, studied law, and became a lawyer. His first marriage was to Elizabeth Fleming in 1827. She passed away the following year giving birth to a son, later the Reverend Thomas Frederick Davis, Jr.
After the death of his wife, Reverend Davis felt the calling of the ministry. He was ordained a deacon in St. James' Church, Wilmington in 1831, and a priest the following year. In 1832, he married Anne Ivie Moore.
The first year he ministered in Pittsboro and Wadesboro. The following three years, he served as rector of St. James' Church in Wilmington. After taking a leave of absence due to health, he assumed charge of St Luke's. in Salisbury where he remained for ten years.
In 1846, he moved to Camden, South Carolina to minister at Grace Church. In 1853, he was elected Bishop of the diocese of South Carolina and was consecrated in New York City. Bishop Davis paid Camden the high compliment of continuing his connection with Grace Church after election to the Episcopate. This was the first instance of a Bishop residing elsewhere than in Charleston.
In 1858, Bishop Davis' eyesight began to fail. Despite conferring with the best medical authorities, he lost nearly all of his eyesight in 1862. After the war, he became a pillar in the post reconstruction of his city and state. He continued to minister, entering the sanctuary, leaning on some supporting arm, or guided, at confirmation, so as to lay his hands on the heads of the candidates kneeling at the rail. He was universally venerated as the "good blind Bishop." In 1859, Bishop Davis started a Theological Seminary for the Diocese in Camden. At the beginning of the civil war, there were ten students. On March 31, 1865, the seminary burned to the ground.
A newspaper tribute read: "First the highly gifted, broad-minded Bishop Davis, the blind, eloquent old man, whose speech on tolerance of opinion where non-essentials are concerned is still spoken of by his contemporaries as the noblest ever uttered before the House of Bishops. We all know that he was great in intellect and great in character. His presence won for him a sense of deep reverence, almost a feeling of awe, as we looked upon him, sightless himself, but glowing to us with the spiritual life so bright within his soul. This holy, consecrated man held his diocese a unit." Bishop Davis passed way on December 2, 1871 in his residence on Broad Street in Camden, SC.