E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A bevy of ladies. A throng or company; properly applied to roebucks, quails, and pheasants. Timid gregarious animals, in self-defence, go down to a river to drink in bevies or small companies. Ladies, from their timidity, are placed in the same category (Italian, bevere, to drink).
And upon her deck what a bevy of human flowersyoung women, how lovely!young men, how noble!De Quincey: Dream-fugue.