Thomas Evans

- 1883)



Death is at all Limes a visitor of terror, even when it comes after a long period of suffering, and when life ebbs slowly and calmly away, but when it comes and strikes down, with a lightning flash, a man who a few moments previously had all the appearance of vigorous health, the shock is one that sends a thrill even through a man of strong nerve and calm temperament. The closer the relationship the more intensified the shock, and when the deceased is one who is known, respected, and esteemed by the great majority of the inhabitants of a large town like Cardiff, the event is one that causes a feeling of gloom, the extent of which can scarcely be estimated.

There are few professions that brings a man into closer relationship with his fellow-man than the medical profession. He visits their homes in times of sickness and sorrow. He sympathises with the relatives when death has removed some loved one from them. His cheerful countenance often throws a gleam of sunlight into sick chambers, and causes the sufferers to forget for a moment the pain they are enduring; and when a medical man has practised in a district for nearly half a century his profession has of necessity brought him into this close relation- ship with large numbers of the inhabitants. Such was the case with Dr. Thomas Evans. He was known to everyone. Rich and poor looked upon him more in the light of a friend who guided them along the path from sickness to health. He had attended at their birth, and with many also he was present at their death. In his early life he knew almost every inhabitant of the town. Cardiff was then a small place, and his father was almost the only medical practitioner in it, and for a time Dr. Thomas Evans was nearly isolated, and as the population increased it grew around him.

Dr. Edward Evans, the father of Dr. Thomas Evans, carried on the medical profession in Crockherbtown for many years in the first half of the present century. In this he was joined by his two sons, Dr. Edward Evans, jun., and Dr. Thomas Evans. Dr. Edward Evans commenced practice by himself in 13+2, and Dr. Thomas Evans in 1843. All lived close to each other. The father lived in the house now occupied by the son, Mr Charles Henry Evans, and Mr Thomas Evans began his professional career in the house at the corner of Crockherbtown and Plymouth-street, now converted into a shop and occupied by Mr Berry. Dr. Edward Evans, junr., died at a rather early age, and the whole of the practice of the father and the son fell into the hands of Mr Thomas Evans, who was most successful in his career. Few medical men had a more extensive practice, and after the death of Dr Reece he was the medical adviser to the late Lady Bute, and the present Lord and Lady Bute also. Among the county families he was much esteemed for his skill, and he was often sent for from a considerable distance. As an accoucheur he took a high stand in the profession, and it is stated that he at one time assisted at the birth of half the population of Cardiff. It was this which made him so widely known. Everyone knew him, and he was known to them. To say that he was popular would be to say what was really beneath his worth. He was respected and esteemed by all, loved by many, and was one of those who passed through a long and useful life in his private capacity without having made an enemy. He was a man also fond of social enjoyments. He was blessed with a large number of children, and the family circle was one often opened to friends in the neighbourhood, who shared in the hospitality which he liberally dispensed. Much might be said of his private worth, and much more of his public one.

He entered the Cardiff Town Council as a representative of St. John's Ward in 1861, and ten years afterwards was elected alderman. From 1861 to 1875 the worth of Alderman Evans as a public man was chiefly observed. The members of the council were then only 24- in number. Many of them only attended at intervals. Alderman Evans was most regular in his attendance, and took a leading part in the proceedings. He and the late Alderman Pride, Alderman David, and a few others carried on by themselves the whole of the municipal work. The affairs of the town were left in their hands, and they carried them out successfully. In 1868 he was selected as mayor, and during his year of office he discharged the duties that fell upon him in a way that drew from the members of the council a high eulogium when his term of office expired. His professional engagements were numerous, but he managed to spare sufficient time to attend to the duties of chief magistrate with regularity and punctuality. When the council was enlarged in 1875, Alderman Evans was made the returning alderman of elections for the East Ward. He was chairman of the property and market committee, and the proposed changes in the front of the entrance to the market in St. Mary-street are mainly due to his perseverance. He was also a member of the public works, the free library, and several other committees in connection with the corporation, He was also a governor of Craddock Wells' Charity.

In 1875 he was made a magistrate for the borough, and in 1879 his name was added to the commission of the peace for the county, and he qualified and sat on the Kibbor division. As a borough magistrate he took an active part. He attended the sittings of the court more regularly than any other magistrate in the town, and his decisions were marked with a clearness and justice that showed how qualified he was to till that position. He presided on the bench on Saturday last, and was remarkably cheerful in his manner. When he qualified as a county magistrate he also became ex-officio guardian, but he was unable, in consequence of his many other engagements, to give much time to the duties of that office.

In early life he took considerable interest in the Cardiff Government Savings Bank was, next to Alderman David, the senior trustee, and was also in this position most regular in his attendance, and as manager seldom failed to be present when the bank was open on Saturdays.

In 1875, on the formation of the Cardiff School Board, he was elected as one of the members, and was re-elected at the general school board election in 1878. At the following election in 1881 he was not returned, and when Mr Capper retired in 1882 the board unanimously elected Alderman Evans to fill his place. Mr Evans was a member of St. John's Church, and, therefore, formed one of the denominational section of the board, but he expressed his views so mildly, and on minor points of difference yielded to the opinions and wishes of the undenominational party, who are in the majority, that he worked with those, who opposed his views sometimes on religious matters, with the greatest harmony, and his separation from them by death will be regretted by everyone.

He was one of the commissioners of taxes, and held this appointment without making an I enemy. He was just and fair, and when cases I came before him in which he felt that the taxes ought to be reduced he expressed himself in favour of the reduction. He had a kind heart, and disliked to press heavily on struggling tradesmen.

In politics he was a Liberal, but he never allowed his political opinions to bias his judgment, and this was seen in the impartial manner in which he discharged the duties of mayor during the general election of 1869.

Last week it was our painful duty to record the death of Alderman David, a man who worked with Alderman Evans in corporation matters more than any other resident of the town. Alderman David spent his life in Cardiff, and it would have been too difficult to speak too highly of his worth. On Alderman Evans the same eulogium might be passed. For nearly half a century he was connected with all the public movements affecting Cardiff. Like Alderman David, by his death another link between Cardiff past and present has been broken. Cardiff, unlike many towns, has grown with mushroom growth, and those who assisted in its development and improvement were men of more than ordinary ability, and men of more than usual liberality of character, who would sacrifice so much of their time, their money, and use their best influence for the good of the town. No question affecting the interest of the town was ever carried through without Alderman Evans -taking part in it. When the town desired to commemorate the coming of age of Lord Bute and of welcoming him to Cardiff Alderman Evans took an active part in the proceedings. At the late exhibition at the Drill- hall, at the formation of the Glamorganshire Horticultural Society Alderman Evans was among the foremost of the promoters. It would be impossible to disassociate his name from every movement connected with the improvement of the town or the welfare of the inhabitants.

Mr Alderman Evans left home on Monday morning in his carriage to attend Mrs Morel, of The Lindens, Penarth. Her confinement was hourly expected, and he was expected to attend at once. On arriving at The Lindens he was very cheerful. The confinement took place a little after twelve o'clock, and the doctor, with his customary humour, pulled out his watch and congratulated Mrs Morel on the birth of another son. He had scarcely finished his congratulations when he fell back apparently in a fit. He was assisted by the servant and the nurse to an adjoining room. Medical aid was sent for at once, and a messenger despatched for Dr. Evans, the son. He was at the surgery, Crockherbtown, and started off at once. The messenger went to Dr. Hardyman, who also drove off as fast as possible, but Alderman Evans expired before medical aid arrived. Disease of the heart was the case of death. To Mrs Morel the sad event was kept a secret, and she was unaware but that Alderman Evans had been removed from the room in a fit. The deceased was 69 years of age.

When the news was first brought to Cardiff, it was discredited. It seemed impossible that he who a short time previously had been mixing among them with so much spirit, and who seemed to be in possession of such excellent health could be so suddenly removed from them. When it was found to be true surprise gave way to consternation. The death of few men in Cardiff has caused a greater and more wide-spread regret than that of Dr Evans.

In the course of the proceedings at the meeting of the College Council on Monday afternoon, Dr Edwards, in broken tones, alluded to the death of Alderman Evans, who was, he said, one of the oldest and most highly respected medical practitioners in Cardiff.


At a special meeting of the Cardiff Town Council, on Wednesday, under the presidency of the Mayor (Mr G. A. Stone), his Worship referred in feeling terms to the loss the corporation had sustained by the death of Alderman Thomas Evans, and proposed the following resolution :

That the council deeply regrets the loss which they have sustained by the death of Alderman Evans, chairman of the property, markets, &c., committee, and desire to express sincere condolence with Mrs Evans and with her family in their bereavement, and places on record their high appreciation of the great services rendered by the late alderman to the corporation during a period extending over 21 years of his unselfish and untiring devotion to its interests; and to the wisdom and knowledge which actuated his counsel and characterised his most useful life.

The MAYOR, in submitting the resolution to the meeting, said I am in no doubt that you were all very much affected when you heard of the very sudden death of Alderman Evans. Certainly I was, for we had him in our midst, as it were. You will remember that at the conclusion of the last meeting of the town council on Monday, I read a telegram I had received from Alderman Evans, who was then at Penarth, stating that he regretted he could not be present at the meeting, being detained there on urgent professional business. Knowing that the late alderman, who was the chairman of the property, markets, etc., committee, took a very great interest in one of the questions which we. had on fur discussion I mean the markets question I knew very well that he would have been anxious to be present. He could not come, however, and in half an hour or so after receiving the telegram I heard he was no more. I know you must all have been much affected when you heard the news first. He was such a genial, cheerful, good-hearted man that everyone who knew him must have not only respected, but loved him. Only a few weeks ago, sitting; near him at a council meeting, I congratulated him upon his regular attendance not only at town council meetings, but at committee meetings for at nearly every meeting which was held he was sure to turn up. All this was done at great personal inconvenience, and I am sure he must have often and often thrown up professional engagements in order to attend town council meetings. (hear, hear.) The officials of the corporation are, I am sure, very sorry that he has gone for after committee meetings, if ever they required information, they had only to send to Alderman Evans, who would cheerfully give it, he being always ready to help the corporation officials in every way in his power. (Hear, hear, and subdued applause).

Alderman ELLIOTT seconded, and said I am sure we all feel deeply the loss we have sustained in the death of such a long known inhabitant of the town, and one who has been such an active member of the town council as Alderman Evans. (Hear and applause.) He was one who had been associated with the early days of Cardiff, when it was quite a small place, and when no one imagined it would grow as it has. During the time he has been in the corporation he has done everything in his power to advance its interests, and lie has been one of our most active and zealous members. You have only got to refer to the return of attendances recently presented to see how regularly he was present, and when it is taken into consideration that lie was following the medical profession, it appears strange that he contrived to devote so much time to the interests of the town at large. But he had the interests of Cardiff at heart, (Hear, hear.) This explained it. (Hear.) Those of us who have experienced the advantage of his medical advice cannot but look back upon his memory with pleasure he was always so kind and considerate -and I believe he was the same at the bedside of a poor man or poor woman, from whom he never expected to meet any remuneration, as he was in the houses or the dwellings or the rich. (Hear, hear.) He was always ready to do everything he could in the cause of humanity to help any person who needed his assistance. On Saturday evening last I spent half an hour or so with him at Alderman Alexander's house, where we happened to meet; lie then appeared to be in his usual health, and was quite happy and cheerful without any thought apparently of a fatal illness. That we all regret his having been so suddenly cut off from amongst us I need hardly say, and I now beg to second the vote of condolence. (Applause. )

Mr WARING, in supporting this, said he felt it was one- of the best things he had ever done for the town of Cardiff when he got Alderman Evans to begin municipal work.

Alderman JONES also supported the vote of condolence, and endorsed all that bad been said of the late alderman's private character and his public worth, adding that his presence in a house was from its cheerfulness like a ray of light. (Hear, hear.)

Alderman LEWIS, who also addressed the meeting in support of the vote, remarked that by the death of Aldermen C. W. David and Thos. Evans, two of the old landmarks of Cardiff had been removed. Referring more particularly to Alderman Evans, with whom he (Alderman Lewis) had been associated since the commencement of his (Alderman Lewis's) public life, now 16 years ago, they could not but feel that the de- ceased was all "all-round" man, who had man- fully done his duty to the town and the profession with which' he was connected. (Applause.) The vote of condolence was unanimously passed, ordered to be recorded on the minutes, and forwarded to the relatives of the deceased.

The council then proceeded with other business.


The Mayor and Corporation of Cardiff will attend the funeral of Alderman Evans on Friday but at the request of the relatives, the funeral not being a public one, the police and fire brigade will not join the cortege. The mayor and corporation meet at the Town-hall at half-past eleven o'clock.

THE CARDIFF TIMES 13th October 1883

SOURCE: Welsh Newspapers Online