Henry Evans Will 1923

Henry Evans, the youngest son of Richard Evans of Pendeford Hall died at midday 1 Jul 1923. He was aged 83.

His daughter, Molly Evans diary tells us she spent the whole afternoon of Saturday 30 June ‘in Daddy’s room’  and the next day the entry reads as follows:

Hazel sleeping in the garden while I mended and wrote while Noel washed Robey [the dog] Telephone message to say Daddy died at midday. Lunch. Noel and I motored over to Hagley and found them finishing lunch. Long talk, Arrangements and letters. Home for 6.30. Supper. Bed

Henry Evans last will was written in May 1922, four months after his wife Florence‘s death in Jan 1922. His only son, Wilmot, had been killed in the Somme in July 1916 and his attention turned to providing for his daughter Phyllis Marten Evans (Fiffy), who was unmarried and living at home at The Lawn Hagley.

His older daughter, Molly, had married immediately after the war in July 1919 and already had two daughters. The executors and trustees of the will were named as his son in law William Noel Downing, and his two daughters Molly and Fiffy. Noel Downing came from a wealthy family and it was clearly Henry’s intention that Phyllis needed to be the main beneficiary of his moderate wealth.

Queen Square, Wolverhampton. Postcard, c 1900 - from Molly Evans' collection. The building facing, far corner left is the former Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Bank (later Barclays Bank)

Queen Square, Wolverhampton. Postcard, c 1900 – from Molly Evans’ collection. The building facing, far corner left is the former Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Bank (later Barclays Bank)

As a retired Bank Manager, Henry is cautious and deliberate in his wording of the will as he had undoubtedly seen how these matters had been handled and panned out amongst numerous of his clients over many years of long experience.

The will talks of the ‘remote issue’ (ie possible grandchildren) of Phyllis, whilst ignoring ‘the remote issue’ of his other daughter. Henry knew his neighbour William Edmund Downing, his elder daughter’s father-in-law, well and knew that the Downing Trusts were substantial. Henry may also have made an important gift on marriage. However, Fiffy, his younger daughter was 27 and was facing a world, where the young men in her generation were few and far between. She had also of course devoted herself to the care of her ailing parents for much of the last ten years of their lives.

The Estate totalled £6330  and the will was handled by solicitors Thompson and Warmington.  Their detailed 12 page bill has survived going into the minutiae of each letter, telephone call, visit and consultation.

This document reveals that 1525 Barclays B shares were still held in the name of Florence Evans.  These Barclays Shares would most likely have been acquired as a result of the takeover of Henry’s former employer, the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Bank. Other shares were in the Wolverhampton Gas company, Great Western Railway and The Staffordshire and Worcester Canal Co, etc

As to property, Henry’s affairs were a little complicated. The Lawn in Hagley where the Evans family had lived for nearly thirty years was on a lease from Lord Cobham. This was a similar arrangement to that of the neighbours at Elm Lodge, the Downings. Thompson and Warmington therefore had to negotiate to break the lease, with permission of Lord Cobham and proceeded to agree vacation of the property with one month’s notice. Furniture and fittings were swiftly auctioned.

Henry had retained his ownership of the Green House Tettenhall (sold £925), which the family had left in 1895. He also held a property in 11 Colville Square in London (sold £625). The former was sold to the existing tenants within days, the solicitors noting the poor condition.

Probate was granted on 10 August 1923.

Two Burial Plot certificates from Hagley Cemetery have survived, purchased on 14 Mar 1922.

The Henry Evans Will Trust was not wound up until the death of Molly Downing in Sep 1974. She was the last of the surviving trustees. Phyllis Evans died intestate in Cheltenham in 1970. Molly refused to take up the Administration, deferring to her eldest daughter.


  • Henry had written an earlier will that is still extant. This was written in Henry’s own hand in 1880 before his marriage and is notable for his attitude towards his brother Thomas, who had fled to Australia.
  • ‘found them finishing lunch’ probably refers to the Downing household in Elm Lodge. Phyllis was left alone at The Lawn – and as the diary goes on to record, Aunt Nettie did not arrive from Cheltenham until about a week later.
  • It is believed that Henry worked for a series of banks from when the industry was in its Victorian infancy. Firstly, he worked for the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Bank until it was taken over by Birmingham, Dudley and District Bank in about 1889. This all eventually was consolidated via United Counties Bank into Barclays Bank by about 1916, by which time Henry was well retired. Perhaps these shares were held in Florence’s name as she was eighteen years younger than Henry, and might reasonably be supposed would die first.
  • The value of Barclays B shares would appear to be in excess of £3,000 (ie about half the estate).
  • The burial plots are not adjacent and the date of purchase is two months after the death of Henry’s wife Florence. One presumes Henry is buried in one of them.