Evan Evans (academic)

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Memorial to Evan Evans in Gloucester Cathedral

Evan Evans [academic] (1813 – 23 November 1891) was Master of Pembroke College, Oxford from 1864 to 1891, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1878 to 1882.

Evans was born in Cardiff in 1813, the second son of David Evans, a gentleman. He attended Cowbridge School, and at the age of 18 went up to Jesus College, Oxford, matriculating on 22 June 1831. He was awarded a scholarship by Pembroke College and migrated there. He obtained a Second Class in Literae Humaniores in 1835, and his M.A. in 1838.

Evans was Philipps Fellow of Pembroke College from 1843 to 1864, serving as Tutor and senior Dean of the college. In 1851 he was appointed Vicegerent, and then on 3 March 1864 he was elected Master of the College and Canon of Gloucester, a combined position he held until his death in 1891, spending time in the vacation at his canonical residence in Gloucester. (This canonry was annexed to the Master's office, which "free standing" could not have afforded him a decent remuneration in this poor college: still a common practice in the late nineteenth century.) The choice of Master hovered between Evans and another tutor called Bartholomew Price, and a joker wrote, "We won't have Evans at any price / And as for Price, — O ’Eavens!" (In the end they had both, as Price succeeded Evans as Master 27 years later.)

Evans was a very popular Master of Pembroke, and the undergraduates affectionately called him "the Old Man". He took a keen interest in athletics, and supported his college at football and cricket matches. His obituarist in the Oxford Magazine wrote that he was a "kindly presence and a genial influence" who "never was known to say an unkind word of anyone".

Evans was also appointed to the new Oxford Local Board (for street improvements) on 16 November 1864.

Heads of Oxford colleges (unlike mere Fellows) were allowed to marry, and Evans very quickly took the opportunity. In the first quarter of 1865, when he was nearly 52, Evans married Mary Sophia Luxmoore, who was 29 years his junior. Her father was a cleric: he was Vicar of Barnstaple at the time of her birth, and Rector of Everdon in the Daventry at the time of their marriage there. Their three children were all born in Oxford and baptised as follows at St Aldate's Church near Pembroke College: William Noble Evans (27 July 1867); Mary Beatrice Noble Evans (20 May 1869); and Lewis Herbert Noble Evans (26 October 1870).

On 9 December 1871 it was announced that Evans was appointed an Oxfordshire Magistrate.

Evans was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford on 5 November 1874, and on 18 October 1878 he became a Doctor of Divinity by decree. He served a four-year stint as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1878 to 1882, and during this period he granted the Randolph Hotel its first licence to serve alcohol, and received the key of the door when work on the new Examination Schools was completed on 13 May 1882. He and his family were at home in the Master's Lodgings at Pembroke at the time of the 1881 census, looked after by six live-in servants, but his eldest son had already left home: aged only 13, William Noble Evans was a naval cadet on board HMS Dapper at Townstall near Dartmouth, Devon.

While Vice-Chancellor Evans headed a memorandum signed by 75 old boys of Cowbridge School urging that the endowment of the Headmaster should be increased in due proportion to the increased value of the lands bequeathed by Sir Leoline Jenkins to Jesus College, Oxford, which owned the school, nearly 200 years before. Hence Evans, after nearly half a century in Oxford, was still taking an interest in his South Wales roots and old school. When he was attending to his prebendal duties at Gloucester during the Long Vacation, he could have kept in touch with both the Cardiff area and with Oxford, as Gloucester is equidistant between the other two cities.

The portrait of Evan Evans that hangs in Pembroke College by Walter William Ouless was subscribed for in 1883.

The 1891 census shows Evans at the Master's Lodgings in Pembroke College nine months before his death. He was now 77 and ill, with a nurse in residence, and Douglas Macleane wrote that towards the end "his failing powers curtailed his activity as Head of the college". His son Lewis spent census night with him, but his wife and daughter were away in a hotel in Barnstaple. Evans died at the Master's Lodgings at the age of 77 on 23 November that year, and was buried in a vault at Holywell Cemetery (Plot H.84) on 29 November 1891.

Two windows in Pembroke College Chapel were added as a memorial to the late Master. At the foot of the windows is the following text: Mementote in Dño Evan Evans, S.T.P. [Sanctae Theologiae Professor] qui per xxvii annos huic Collegio benignissime praefuit et obdormivit in Xto ix Kal. Dec. A.S. [Anno. Salutis] mdcccxci. In cujus memoriam amici et sodales gratis animis haec vitreã ponendã curavere" ("Remember Evan Evans, Master, Doctor of Theology, who for 27 years headed this college in the kindliest way and died in Christ on 23 November [literally on the ninth day before the Kalends of December] in the year of our salvation 1891. In whose memory his friends and colleagues with grateful hearts had these windows put in place").

Evans's widow was living in Bushey, Hertfordshire at the time of the 1901 census and his daughter Mary Beatrice Evans, who was an artist, lived with her. His son Lewis Herbert Evans was the Vicar of St John's Church, Eton by 1911.

References[edit]

  • Entry for Evan Evans in Alumni Oxonienses
  • Obituary of Evan Evans entitled "The Late Master of Pembroke" in the Oxford Magazine for 1891/2, p. 96
  • Censuses of 1871 (Daventry); 1851 and 1891 (Barnstaple); 1911 (Eton); 1901 (Bushey); and 1871, 1881, and 1891 (Oxford)
  • Jackson's Oxford Journal: 7 November 1874 (appointment to Local Board); 9 December 1871 (appointment as magistrate); 7 November 1874 (appointment as Pro-Vice-Chancellor); 28 November 1891 (death); 5 December 1891 (funeral)
  • Transcript of parishes registers of St Aldate's Church, Oxford made by Oxfordshire Family History Society
  • Douglas Macleane, A History of Pembroke College (Oxford Historical Society, 1897)
  • Douglas Macleane, Pembroke College (F. E. Robinson & Co., 1900)
  • Holywell Cemetery records in Oxfordshire Studies centre
  • FreeBMD
  • Iolo Davies, A Certaine Schoole (D. Brown & Son, Cowbridge, 1967), pp. 66 and 145
Academic offices
Preceded by
Francis Jeune
Master of Pembroke College, Oxford
1864–1891
Succeeded by
Bartholomew Price
Preceded by
James Edwards Sewell
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
1878–1882
Succeeded by
Benjamin Jowett