Richard Evans Attorney

Richard Evans was born on 24 Mar 1825, the eldest son of Richard Evans, a coaching inn proprietor of  Wolverhampton and his wife Mary Shaw-Hellier. The life expectations of him and most of his siblings were to be sorely disappointed as the family faced increasing financial and social challenges.

Richard himself took articles and qualified as an attorney but his career soon ran into difficulties. His grandfather, who had been the highly successful proprietor of Wolverhampton’s premier coaching inn in the early 1800’s died at Pendeford Hall in 1841. His father was already facing extreme financial pressures as the coaching business collapsed in the face of competition from the railways. The landed estate around Pendeford of some 900 acres was also suffering from plumetting agricultural prices.

Richard Evans, however, seems to have created problems of his own and either through poor business dealings or personal profligacy was driven to bankruptcy in 1855, at the age of 30. In the London Gazette of 9 Nov 1855 it states the following:-

“WHEREAS a Petition of Richard Evans the younger, now and since the 29th day of September, 1853, residing in lodgings at Blakeley Green, in the parish of Tettenhall, in the county of Stafford, previously and for eighteen months in lodgings at the Upper Green, in Tettenhall aforesaid, and for four years previously to the last-mentioned period in lodgings at Pendeford, in the same parish of Tettenhall, and during parts of the said several periods practising as an Attorney, Solicitor, and Conveyancer, in Dudley Street, Queen Street, and Market Street, in Wolverhampton, in the said county of Stafford, an insolvent debtor, having been filed in the County Court of Staffordshire, at the Court House, Queen Street, Wolverhampton, and an interim order for protection from process having been given to the said Richard Evans the younger, under the provisions of the Statutes in that case made and provided, the said Richard Evans the younger is hereby required to appear before the said Court, on the 24th of November instant, at ten in the forenoon, for his first examination touching his debts, estate, and effects, and to be further dealt with according to the provisions of the said Statutes; and the choice of the creditors’ assignees is to take place at the time so appointed. All persons indebted to the said Richard Evans the younger, or that have any of his effects, are not to pay or deliver the same but to Mr. Charles Gallimore Brown, Clerk of the said Court, at his office, in Queen Street, Wolverhampton, the Official Assignee of the estate and effects of the said insolvent.”

This must have caused consternation, especially to his mother, Mary. We can surmise that Richard Evans was therefore an associate of his cousin Richard Hope Price (jnr) and both may have taken articles in the business of Richard Hope Price (Snr). We know that Richard Evans grandfather showed a mistrust of his son-in-law Richard Hope Price in his will of 1840. It seems likely that this mistrust was astute in that both his grandsons, Richard Evans and Richard Hope Price became attorneys and both ended bankrupt.

The next record we have concerning Richard Evans is his marriage to a Louisa Watson in Ottawa on 10 Mar 1859. Richard’s sister Sarah Evans had married their Canadian born cousin Charles Richard Ogden Evans in Tettenhall on 28 Feb 1856, which certainly brought the Canadian Evans family a lot closer and clearly somehow gave Richard a means of escape from the opprobrium at home and make a new start with the help of his relatives in Canada.

Richard Evans appears with his wife in the 1861 Canadian census again as an attorney. However, the new start did not last long and by 1862 he has returned to England, but this time to London. On 14 Sep 1862 he is present as a witness at the wedding of his sister-in-law Susannah Adelaide Watson in St Pancras Church, Middlesex.

In the 1871 UK census he is living with Louisa in St Pancras. A child aged 6 called Andrew Evans, described as a nephew is living with them. Andrew was born in Ottawa, Canada but it is unclear ‘how’ he can be a nephew.

When his mother died in 1878 Richard is left the sum of £200 in her will. He himself died aged 54 in 1879, the following year.

In the 1881 census Louisa Evans, a widow, is living in St Pancras with another ‘nephew’ called Thomas Watson, also born in Canada.

Because of the difficulties in his life and relatively early death, Richard Evans is largely written out of the later history of the Evans family, as an eldest son who had died young. It is possible that he was estranged enough from his family back in Wolverhampton, that they did not even know he had returned to England from Canada and led a secluded life in London.

His misfortunes are in some ways overshadowed by those of his brother Thomas Evans, the second eldest son. He too proved incapable of sustaining a living in Tettenhall and abandoning his wife and young family fled to Australia.

Henry Evans, Richard’s youngest brother by some 15 years, in his unexecuted will of 1880 shows a strongly antipathetic attitude to Thomas’s behaviour. One suspects Henry’s sentiments reflect those of his late mother and her disappointment in her two eldest sons.


Last updated on 31 March 2018 by JJ Morgan