John Evans

John Evans was born about 1740, possibly in Shifnal in Shropshire. Most of what we know about him comes from his will of 1784 obtained from Lichfield Record Office, where he is described as an Innkeeper. He made his will “being sick and weak in body” at the age of about 44. He died a short time later, but his signature is relatively firm. He had married Mary Owen on 28 Jun 1767 and had six children. At his death, his eldest son Richard was 15, his youngest son John was only 3.

John Evans Signature on his marriage 1767

John Evans Signature on his marriage 1767

John Evans Signature and Seal 1784

John Evans Signature and Seal 1784

Although the Evans family were based in the Wolverhampton area from 1765 to 1890, his will (as does his wife’s will) indicates that he owned land and property in Shifnal in Shropshire  It is on this basis that we can speculate that he may have been born in Shropshire. There is record of a Richard Evans, gentleman, of Pepperhill, who could be a strong candidate for his father.

The name John Evans being so common makes any research very difficult.

The Evans or Owens must have acquired the Old Bell Inn in Chapel Ash just outside Wolverhampton in about 1767. Records show that it was owned by a William Savage in 1765. John Evans is described as the Inn Keeper by 1775 for certain. It would appear it is now the site of a public lavatory!

One artefact that has remarkably survived and has been passed down many generations  is the Chester Racecard of May 1766. This we can presume comes from John Evans and indicates the strong ancestral passion with horses. As the stage coach business was to develop from 1780 to 1830 a stable of fine horses was a prerequisite to meet the need for an efficient inter city coaching service. Significantly Shifnal is an important staging post on the coaching route between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury.

The buildings at the “Sign of the Old Bell” dated from before 1700 as when they are sold by Mary in 1792 they are described as over one hundred years old. There may be further possibilities in researching the early coaching business in the 1750’s and 1760’s as it might indicate the possible coaching roots of John Evans father. There was another stage Inn at Pepperhill just outside Albrighton.

John Evans is identified as ‘Richard Evans’ in family trees drawn up by Edith Ogden and Eric Benton and repeated many times later. This appears to be a mistake and confusion probably introduced by Edith Ogden herself in about 1930. She was very much aware that the name was John Evans, clearly indicated in some correspondence we have, but the key tree that she created and passed to Molly Downing and probably Eric Benton first makes the mistake.

There can be no doubt that the father of Richard Evans (b 1768) and General Thomas Evans (b 1777) was John Evans. A mistake that in the latter’s case is even repeated in the Dictionary of Canadian National Biography.

John Evans was buried on 30 Jul 1784 in St Michael Allangels in Tettenhall.

Family of John EVANS and Mary OWEN

Husband:John EVANS (b.c. 1745, bur.1784)
Wife:Mary OWEN (c. 1738-1792)
Children:Richard EVANS (1768-1841)
Elizabeth EVANS (bap.1769, bur.1808)
Mary EVANS (bap.1770, bur.1830)
Charles EVANS (bap.1773, d.1820)
Thomas EVANS (1776-1863)
John EVANS (bap.1781)
Marriage28 Jun 1767St Peters Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton

Husband: John EVANS

Name:John EVANS
Birthc. 1745Shifnal?
Will24 May 1784 (age 38-39)October 1784
Burial30 Jul 1784St Michael and All Angels, Tettenhall

Wife: Mary OWEN

Name:Mary OWEN
Birthc. 1738
Baptism9 Nov 1743 (age 4-5)Wombourne
OccupationApr 1790 (age 51-52)Innkeeper; North Street, Wolverhampton
Source: Wolverhampton Chronicle
Will4 Mar 1792 (age 53-54)Wolverhampton
The will confirms her late husband as John Evans – and that Daniel Banton is her sole executor.
Burial29 Mar 1792St Michael and All Angels, Tettenhall
Death4 Apr 1792 (age 53-54)The Red Lion, Wolverhampton

Child 1: Richard EVANS

Name:Richard EVANS
Spouse:Sarah STYLES (bap.1775, d.1812)
Birth1768Old Bell, Wolverhampton
Baptism9 Apr 1768 (age 0)St Peters Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton
Occupationbtw 1792 and 1840 (age 23-72)Proprietor Coaching and Horse Business; Red Lion Inn Wolverhampton
Occupation1818 (age 49-50)Inn Keeper
R Evans listed as landlord of ‘Lion Inn’ North Street, Wolverhampton
Death7 Mar 1841 (age 72-73)Pendeford Hall, Staffordshire
Burial13 Mar 1841St Michael and All Angels, Tettenhall

Child 2: Elizabeth EVANS

Name:Elizabeth EVANS
Spouse:William STYLES (bap.1771, bur.1809)
Baptism9 Jun 1769St Peters Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton
Witness6 Mar 1791St Peters Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton at her sister Mary’s wedding
Burial10 Dec 1808St Michael and All Angels, Tettenhall

Child 3: Mary EVANS

Name:Mary EVANS
Spouse:John Lea HAYLEY (bap.1768, bur.1831)
Described as a minor on the marriage certificate
Baptism6 Dec 1770St Peters Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton
Burial16 Dec 1830Leighton, Shropshire

Child 4: Charles EVANS

Name:Charles EVANS
Spouse:Ann Sophia (Sophie) MARSH (b.1775, bur.1809)
Baptism27 Nov 1773St Peters Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton
DeathAug 1820Compton, Tettenhall
Burial17 Aug 1820St Bartholomew, Penn
Portrait1820that we have a Dighton picture of him (perhaps)

Child 5: Thomas EVANS

Name:Thomas EVANS1
Spouse:Harriet Lawrence OGDEN (c. 1788-1858)
Birth9 Mar 1776Wolverhampton
Date of birth given in Canadian Dictionary of Biography (but false fathers name)
Baptism20 Apr 1776 (age 0)St Peters Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton
Occupation12 Mar 1810 (age 34)ADC to Major General Gordon Drummond; statement on Marriage enrtry
Death11 Feb 1863 (age 86)Quebec, Canada

Child 6: John EVANS

Name:John EVANS
Baptism5 Feb 1781St Peters Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton
Occupation1790ships carpenter on voyage with Captain Cook allegedly