John Davis was United States Assistant Secretary of State, and a judge of the United States Court of Claims.
Davis was the grandson of John Davis, Massachusetts governor, Congressman and Senator, and nephew of Bancroft Davis, a Court of Claims judge.
Davis was educated in the University of Heidelberg, the University of Berlin, and the University of Paris. He read law to enter the Bar, in 1874.
He also was private secretary to Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, 1872-1873. Later, he was Clerk, U.S. Court of Commissioners of the Alabama Claims, 1874. He was in the private practice of law in New York City and Washington, DC, from 1874 to 1881.
He also was Assistant Counsel of the United States at the French American Claims Commission, 1881-1882 before serving as Assistant Secretary of State during the period 1882 to 1885. Davis was nominated to the Court of Claims by President Chester A. Arthur. He was commissioned on January 20, 1885.
Davis wrote the opinion in Gray v. United States, the lead case settling claims dating from the Quasi-War between the United States and France. Davis served until his death.