Evans, John (d.1724) (DNB00)

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EVANS, JOHN (d. 1724), bishop of Meath, was born at Plas Du in the parish of Llanarmon, Carnarvonshire, and educated at Jesus College, Oxford (Willis). A John Evans of Jesus College graduated as B.A. in 1671. The birth-date 1660, given without authority in Webb's ‘Compendium,’ must be inaccurate, as Evans went to India in 1678 as one of the company's chaplains, and was posted to Hugly in Bengal. He was afterwards at Madras, and in 1692 was one of the ministers attached to Fort St. George. He had a bad character with the authorities, who called him ‘the merchant parson’ and state that he associated intimately with the ‘interlopers.’ The company in a letter to Madras (18 Feb. 1690–1) call him ‘the quondam minister, but late great merchant,’ and a year later (22 Jan. 1691–2) speak of discontinuing his salary. A letter of his own, dated London, 18 April 1698, seems to show that he had only recently left India. He then became rector of Llanaelhaiarn in his native county. On 4 Jan. 1702 he was consecrated bishop of Bangor. Governor Pitt, one of his old interloping friends, jokes upon this appointment in a letter to Sir E. Littleton (Madras, 8 Nov. 1702). He was a strong whig in politics. Atterbury mentions an altercation with him in convocation in June 1702. Evans said in the upper house that Atterbury, the prolocutor of the lower house, had lied, which he explained on being challenged by saying that the prolocutor had told a great untruth (Stanley, Memorials of Westminster Abbey (1869), p. 557, where, however, an erroneous reference is given). In 1712 he joined Marlborough in signing a protest against the peace, which was ordered to be expunged from the journals by the majority. He was translated to Meath in January 1715–16 and enthroned on 3 Feb. following. In Ireland he had a violent quarrel with Swift, who, according to his own account, had been civil to the bishop in spite of their political differences. Swift refused to attend his visitation at Laracor, and told him to remember that he was speaking to a clergyman and not to a footman. He was, however, a friend of Bishop Nicolson, and seems to have been respected. He died at Dublin on 22 March 1723–4, and was buried in the churchyard of St. George's Chapel, under a monument upon which his widow commemorated his many virtues and his twenty years' chaplaincy in India. He left 1,000l. for an episcopal house at Ardbraccan, 140l. for the rectory of Llanaelhaiarn, the personal estate acquired previously to his translation to be applied by the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty for the benefit of poor clergy in England, and that afterwards acquired for the benefit of churches in Meath.

[Diary of W. Hedges, with illustrations from manuscript records, published by Colonel Yule for the Hakluyt Society, i. 118, 148, 195, ii. pp. cxxx, ccxcvii, iii. p. lxxix; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 107; Cotton's Fasti, iii. 121; Browne Willis's Survey of Bangor (1721), p. 119; Mant's Church of Ireland, ii. 309, 390, 397; Swift's Works (1814), xvi. 354, 392, 440; Parl. Hist. vi. 1142. Nicolson's Letters (1807), p. 525; Sloane MS. 4036, f. 322; and Addit. MSS. 22846, No. 95, 28882, f. 231, 28927, f. 163, and India Office O. C. 4594, 4867, contain letters quoted or printed by Colonel Yule.]