Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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BEVAN , SILVANUS ( 1691 - 1765 ), Quaker physician .

He was a member of a Swansea family, and (according to Morris Letters , ii, 336) was related to Arthur Bevan . A William Bevan , a Quaker of Swansea , was imprisoned in 1658 , and d. in 1701 , aged 74. His son, Silvanus Bevan ( 1661 - 1725 ), m. Jane Phillips of Swansea in 1685 , and had several sons, two of whom moved to London .

The elder, SILVANUS BEVAN , is the subject of this notice. He set up a pharmacy at 2 Old Plough Court, Oxford Street in 1715, but later practised physic at Hackney . In 1725 he had been elected F.R.S. on the proposal of Isaac Newton .

A belated interest in Welsh antiquities brought him (now a retired man) in 1760 into contact with Richard Morris ; and there are references to him in the Morris Letters (more especially ii, 265, 336-7, 416) which give us a picture of him: a dilettante; a collector of fossils, curios, books, paintings, etc. ; an amateur wood-carver ; and a keen gardener . Morris calls him ‘a bachelor’; he was in fact a widower, for in 1715 he had m. Elizabeth , daughter of Daniel Quare , the famous clock-maker ( 1648 - 1724). He m. (2), Martha Heathcote . He was in 1761 ‘eighty years of age,’ says Morris rather wildly, but his ‘intellects’ and his love of reading were unimpaired, though he was ‘slovenly and with trembling hands.’ He spoke Welsh only very brokenly, had never seen a Welsh manuscript, and was ‘surprised to hear we had any.’ However, in 1762 he was elected a member of the Cymmrodorion . He took a great interest in America ; both he and his brother Timothy played a considerable part in establishing the first hospital at Philadelphia .

TIMOTHY BEVAN 1704 - 1786 , his brother, succeeded him in the Plough Court business — which was the lineal ancestor of the firm of Allen and Hanbury . He m. as his second wife Hannah , daughter of John Gurney , and was the father of JOSEPH GURNEY BEVAN ( 1753 - 1814 ), who carried on the business but is better known as a writer on Quakerism and is commemorated in D.N.B.


  • T. M. Rees , A history of the Quakers in Wales and their emigration to North America (1925) , 79, 90, 267;
  • The Letters of Lewis, Richard, William, and John Morris, of Anglesey, (Morrisiaid Môn) 1728-1765 (1907–9) ;
  • The Journal of the Friends' Historical Society , 1925 , 15-17.


Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959