Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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EVANS , PHILIP ( 1645 - 1679 ), priest, of the Society of Jesus, and martyr ;

b. in Monmouthshire . His father was William Evans , and his mother, Winifred Morgan , was possibly of Llanfihangel Crucorney . He was educated at S. Omer and entered the Society of Jesus on 8 Sept. 1665 , was ordained in 1675 and sent to the Jesuit mission in South Wales . According to the informer , Edward Turberville (q.v.) , he visited Powis castle , but his activities centred on his native county and Glamorgan . He visited Charles Proger (see under Proger family ) at Wern-ddu , Llantilio Crossenny , and at his trial witnesses came from Llanfihangel Crucorney and Llangattock juxta Caerleon . As ‘ Captain Evans ’ he stayed with Thomas Gunter of Abergavenny and preached in Welsh in his chapel in Cross Street where, it was said, ‘100's goe to Mass there when not 40 goe to Church’. In Glamorgan he visited Pyle and the houses of Howel Carne (of the Nash family) and Christopher Turberville of Sker . He was arrested on 2 Dec. 1678 at Sker , after John Arnold (q.v.) had offered £50 reward for his capture, in the nation-wide upheaval that followed the disclosures of Titus Oates . He was imprisoned in Cardiff castle with Fr. John Lloyd (q.v. in App.) , and the two priests were tried in the Shire Hall on Thursday and Friday, 8 and 9 May 1679 , by judge Owen Wynne of Melai . They were condemned to death under the statute of 27 Eliz . for being seminary priests , but nearly three months elapsed before the sentences were carried out. During this period the priests were allowed considerable liberty, and it thus came about that the notice of execution was brought to Fr. Evans while he was playing tennis near S. John's church . His remark: ‘What hurry is there? Let me first play out my game’ , is memorable, as are his other words spoken from the ladder of the gallows: ‘Sure this is the best pulpit a man can have to preach in’ . He returned to the prison and sang to his own accompaniment on the harp , as a contemporary broadside shows. He also wrote a letter to his sister Catherine , who was a Blue Nun in Paris , which is printed in Foley (below). He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on 22 July 1679 , at the age of 34. There is a portrait in Foley and, in 1929 , a stained glass window commemorating the two priests was erected in S. Peter's church , Cardiff , to mark their beatification.

Sources:

  • Foley , Records of the English province of the Society of Jesus (1570-1800 ) , v, 882-91;
  • Joseph Gillow , A Literary and Biographical History or Biographical Dictionary of the English Catholics , c. 1895–1902 , ii, 186-7;
  • Challoner , Memoirs of Missionary Priests, … and of other Catholics, … that have suffered death in England, on religious accounts, from … 1577 to 1684 ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • South Wales Record Society , i, 194;
  • Catholic Record Society , viii, 392 and xlvii, 139-41;
  • Cardiff Records , 1898–1911 , ii, 175-77 and iv, 155-59;
  • St. Peter's Mag. , 1923 .

Author:

John Martin Cleary, Cardiff

Published date: 1959