Daniel Evans (c. 1770-1846) and Elizabeth Evans (c.1765-1842)
The early life of Daniel and Elizabeth Evans has so far eluded discovery. Elizabeth was raised a Presbyterian, but became a Wesleyan Methodist by the mid-1790s; by the early nineteenth century Daniel was established as a successful builder.
In the 1810s the family was living in Eagle Street, Holborn, and Elizabeth and her daughters Hannah (1799-1847) and Elizabeth (1803-81) were members at Great Queen Street Wesleyan chapel. A near neighbour was the minister and architect William Jenkins (1763-1844). Jenkins designed, and Daniel Evans built, new Wesleyan chapels in Bishop Street, Leicester (1815) and Gold Street, Northampton (1815-16). Jenkins was commissioned to design a new chapel for Oxford in 1817, and Evans executed the work, building the New Inn Hall Street chapel in 1817-18, and adding a gallery in 1820 and a new school in 1831.
From 1820 Evans was employed on a variety of building projects in Oxford, and he moved his home and business to the city. Evans’ work included new premises for Magdalen Hall (1819-20), renovations for Magdalen College (1822-27), the Broad Street range for Exeter College (1833-34) and the Garden Quadrangle for Pembroke College (1844-46). Evans won the contract for the Radcliffe Asylum (later the Warneford Hospital) in 1821-26, and he built a number of houses in the Beaumont Street area, including 34 St Giles’, which became his home.
Given his evident business acumen and growing prosperity, it is not surprising that Daniel Evans was appointed to a number of responsible offices in the Oxford Wesleyan Society. He was a Circuit Steward, a member of the Sunday School Committee, and a subscriber to several Connexional funds. He secured the site for the first Wesleyan chapel in Woodstock in 1822. These were all financial or administrative roles. He was also, however, local secretary for the Wesleyan Missionary Society, and, for more than twenty years, Leader of two Classes – a position combining spiritual nurture, evangelism and pastoral care.
Hannah and Elizabeth Evans married the brothers Joseph and Joshua Symm, and Joshua succeeded his father-in-law as head of the building firm in 1846. Both daughters, and their mother, were commemorated by appreciative tributes in the Wesleyan Methodist Magazine.