Davies (Davis), Sir Paul (d. 1672), clerk of the privy council and secretary of state, was the fourth but second surviving son of John Davies of Kill, Co. Kildare; nothing is known of his mother. He inherited his father's considerable holdings in Kildare, Donegal, Enniskillen, and Dublin. A career administrator, he rode out the rapids of a turbulent period in Irish history, serving a variety of masters on the way, to prosper under the restoration. He resided mainly in Dublin, being an alderman in 1637. Davies was chief chamberlain of the exchequer (1625) and registrar of the court of wards (1626), having previously been clerk to the commissioner of the court of wards. On 10 July 1630 he was appointed clerk of the privy council. He sat in the Irish parliament for Enniskillen (1634–5) and Donegal Co. (1640–41). Outwardly supportive of the lord deputy, Wentworth (qv), who knighted him on 2 June 1636, Davies acted as collector of the subsidies voted by parliament in 1634 and came under the scrutiny of the English parliament after Wentworth's fall in 1641. Nonetheless, he did not sever his links with his previous patron, the earl of Cork (qv), whom he kept covertly informed of events at the heart of government.
After the outbreak of the 1641 rebellion Davies remained in Dublin, where he played an important role in coordinating the government's war effort. During this period he developed a good working relationship with the earl of Ormond (qv), who in 1643 defended him from an attempt to remove him from office. In October 1646 Davies went to London as a member of a delegation sent by Ormond to seek parliament's assistance. After the successful conclusion of these negotiations he entered parliament's service, being active on the committee for Irish affairs. He spent 1648–50 raising £50,000 for the reconquest of Ireland (receiving £500 for his services from parliament), and returned in 1651 to Ireland, where he lived at Hangman's Lane, Dublin. From May 1654 to January 1655 he was in London, lobbying on behalf of the established protestant settlers against the government of Charles Fleetwood (qv), leading ultimately to the appointment of Henry Cromwell (qv) as governor. Henry favoured Davies, who sat in the union parliament in London in 1657, probably for Dublin. He continued to act as one of the chief representatives of the Old Protestant interest, travelling to London in 1657 and 1659 to petition against high taxes. While in London in 1654 and again in 1658, he lobbied for his restoration as clerk of the council (all those who had stayed in Dublin after the 1643 cessation had been held to have forfeited their offices). Eventually on 19 March 1658 Henry persuaded him to drop his claims in return for a lease of 500 acres in Dublin and 1,500 acres in Kildare, allowing Davies, within a few years, to claim disingenuously that his hands had never been defiled by the usurper's dispatches. He acted as commissioner to raise the assessment for Ireland in the final quarter of 1654 for Co. Kildare.
Davies never felt entirely comfortable under the republican regime, and he was at the heart of the events that led to a smooth transition of power back to the monarchy in Ireland in 1660. His old links with Ormond in particular allowed him to play a key role in this process and to advance his own interests. He sat for Kildare county during the 1660 convention in Dublin, and headed a delegation from the convention to meet the king in London in May 1660. After the restoration Davies recovered his office of clerk of the council and laid claim to that of secretary of state. On 13 May 1661 he received a reversion of that post and was formally secretary of state by 3 June 1663; it appears that he was sworn a privy counsellor when he took up the secretaryship. A portion of the land he had been leased by Cromwell in Dublin belonged to the Denn family, who threatened him and tried to recover their lands by force after the restoration. Davies drew attention to this in parliament, in which he sat as MP for Kildare (1661–6). He was granted lands in Kildare on 27 March 1662. He died in 1672.
Davies married first Margaret (d. 1633), daughter of Arthur Ussher of Dublin; secondly Anne (d. 1644), daughter of Sir William Parsons; and finally Mary, daughter of William Crofton and maternal granddaughter of Archbishop Adam Loftus (qv). He had at least one daughter and one son.