EVANS, William Bartrum (1801-1850), of 32 Hertford Street, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

1831 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 23 Nov. 1801, 1st. s. of John Evans (d. 1853), attorney, of London and Sarah, da. of Charles Bartrum of Rye Lane, Peckham, Surr. educ. Harrow 1814-16; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1819; L. Inn 1819, called 1825. m. 18 Jan. 1833, Jane, da. of John Boyd of Broadmeadows, Selkirk, 2s. 2da. d.v.p. 22 Nov. 1850.

Offices Held

Biography

Evans, whose father initially practised with Thomas Bartrum in St. Mildred’s Court, Poultry, was baptized at St. Andrew Undershaft on Christmas Day 1801, and named after his grandfathers Bartrum and William Evans of Teddington. He spent his childhood in London, where his father became clerk to the Commercial Dock Company and established a practice in Hertford Street, and also in Dublin, where John Evans, a landowner in Tipperary, had business interests.1 He was sent to Harrow and Cambridge and qualified as a barrister in May 1825, but he does not appear to have practised. That August his sister Eleanor married James Lennigan of Castle Ffogarty, Tipperary, and the family afterwards spent more time in Ireland. His mother died at Sea Point, Black Rock, near Dublin, 22 Mar. 1828.2 Evans meanwhile had absconded with the Dublin upholsterer James Jordan’s wife Catherine (née Hinton), who, generally under the assumed name of Estcourt, lived with him at various addresses in Walworth, Paris, Dublin, Southwark and Cheltenham. She bore him three children before the relationship ended in 1832.3 Little is known of the background to Evans’s candidature for Leominster, where, standing on the reform and corporation interests, he topped the poll at the general election of 1831.4 The Ledbury banker John Biddulph, who first met him at the Herefordshire Association dinner, 28 May, described him as ‘a stranger to the country’; but his paternal grandparents had owned land in nearby Eaton and Elton, which after his grandfather’s death in 1813 had been sold to John Chambre, 10th earl of Meath, the defeated Whig candidate in 1812, for whom the Chaworth and Eaton Barony was revived at the coronation in 1831.5

Evans voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and steadily for its details, including the total disfranchisement of Saltash, which ministers no longer pressed, 26 July 1831. He divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., attended the reform dinner at Stationers’ Hall in honour of the leader of the House Lord Althorp and the bill’s architect Lord John Russell, 24 Sept.,6 and voted for Lord Ebrington’s motion of confidence in the ministry, 10 Oct. He had sponsored the Leominster races, 17 Aug., and was thanked publicly for supporting the bill when the borough celebrated Meath’s elevation to the British peerage, 8 Sept., and at the Herefordshire reform meeting, 5 Nov.7 Summoned by circular, 6 Dec.,8 he divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, frequently for its details, and for the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832; but, as the disappointed editor of the Hereford Journal pointed out, he cast a wayward vote against enfranchising £50 tenants-at-will, 1 Feb., which had been conceded.9 He voted for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry the bill unimpaired, 10 May, for the second reading of the Irish measure, 25 May, and against a Conservative amendment to the Scottish bill, 1 June 1832. He divided with government in both divisions on the Dublin election controversy, 23 Aug. 1831, on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16 July, on Portugal, 9 Feb., and the navy civil departments bill, 6 Apr.; but against them for immediate inquiry into colonial slavery, 24 May 1832. He voted to make coroners’ inquests public, 20 June 1832. On 15 Dec. 1831, as a spokesman against the newspaper duties, the ‘tax on knowledge’, Evans requested detailed returns of the stamps issued and the conveyance of newspapers and pamphlets in all parts of Britain and the colonies, in a maiden speech that drew heavily on an article on the subject in the July Westminster Review. The motion was carried, but subject to a government amendment adding the words ‘so far as the same can be made out’.10 He or William Evans, Member for Leicester, presented a petition ‘for the appointment of a day for national humiliation and prayer’ from Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, Chelsea, 17 Jan., and one of them was appointed to the select committee on colonial slavery, 30 May 1832. Evans had been expected to act as a steward at the Herefordshire Association anniversary dinner at the Freemasons’ Tavern that day, but he failed to attend and he did not stand for Parliament again.11

At Selkirk on 18 Jan. 1833 he married Jane Boyd, who knew of his previous liaison, and whose kinsman, the lawyer Archibald Boyd, acted for Evans and his father when Jordan and Catherine, who already received £100 a year, attempted extortion in 1833-4 and 1848.12 Evans died v.p. at his home in Hertford Street in November 1850, leaving a widow and three children; a fourth, his second son, Harry Saville Ward Evans (1851-89), the sportsman and captain of the Cambridge University volunteer corps, was born posthumously. Evans left everything to his wife (d. 1894), who, with their children, inherited most of John Evans’s English property and £120-160,000 in investments in 1853, when the Irish holdings passed to the Lennigans.13 In 1863 Jane Evans purchased the 15,000-acre Forde Abbey estate at Thorncombe, Dorset, once rented by Jeremy Bentham. Evans’s four legitimate children died without issue and it passed through the Boyds to the Freman Roper family in 1906.14

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott

Notes

Evans’s first name was also spelt Bertram.

  • 1. GL ms 4108; PROB 11/2180/793; IR26/576/228.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1828), i. 381-2; Dublin Evening Post, 25 Mar. 1828.
  • 3. Evans mss (NRA 29106); Herefs. RO, Evans mss E42/46.
  • 4. Hereford Jnl. 4 May; Worcester Jnl. 5 May; Worcester Herald, 7 May 1831.
  • 5. Herefs. RO, diaries of John Biddulph of Ledbury [Biddulph diary] G2/4/J/59, 28 May 1831; Burke LG (1886): Evans of Forde Abbey; PROB 11/1544/242; Meath mss A/1/304-10; J/3/26; Hereford Jnl. 29 Sept. 1813.
  • 6. Evans mss E42/1-2.
  • 7. Hereford Jnl. 3, 10, 17, 24 Aug., 14 Sept., 9 Nov. 1831.
  • 8. Evans mss E42/3.
  • 9. Hereford Jnl. 8 Feb. 1832.
  • 10. Westminster Rev. xxix (1831), 238-66.
  • 11. Biddulph diary, 28 May 1831; Hereford Jnl. 2 May, 13, 20 June, 12 Dec. 1832.
  • 12. IGI (Selkirk); Dorset Hist. Cent. Forde Abbey Estate mss D/FAE/F/18; Evans mss E42/5-46.
  • 13. Hereford Times, 7 Dec. 1850; Gent. Mag.(1853), ii. 430; PROB 8/244; 11/2130/284; 11/2180/793; IR26/1965/686.
  • 14. J. Hutchins, Dorset, iv. 528; will of Jane Evans, proved at Principal Registry, 28 July 1894.

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