The EVANS family – Sergeant EVANS, Edward Dare (1875-1915)

Edward Dare Evans was born on 21st February 1875 at 88 London Road.  His father, William Evans (c1831-1921), was a corn miller and merchant and his mother Isabella Dare (1837-1894) had children: Caroline (1862 -); Isabel Clara (1863-1936); William Arthur (1865-1942); Mary Martha (1873-); Edward (1875-1915) and Robert (1878-1920).  They moved to New Parks House in about 1883, remaining until 1894 when they settled for over ten years at number 6 St Martin’s. Evans 6 St Martins

Edward probably had a comfortable childhood and adolescence, until his mother died when he was 19. The following year his father remarried, to Agnes Archer Kilgour who had been born in Tasmania.  Edward was in partnership with his father in the corn factors business A & W Evans at Soar Lane.  On 15th January 1903 Edward married Alice Mabel de Legh (c1873-1947) at Paignton, Devon.  Alice was the daughter of a doctor.  The couple lived firstly at 9 The Crescent, then 9 de Montfort Square.

De Montfort Square
9 de Montfort Square

They had a daughter, Mary Isabella de Legh Evans (1904-1984) who was baptised at St Paul’s on 29th August 1904, but the marriage was difficult.  Relations between the two were “strained” and after a time Alice refused to live with her husband, requesting a deed of separation which Edward resisted.  Alice consulted George Archibald Toller (1880-1918), a local solicitor, and on 7th January 1910 a deed was executed.  Edward and Alice did not see each other for a year, but then Alice wrote to Edward asking for money and confessing that she had been living with George Toller, and that her second child Anthony Legh Evans (1909-1966 – he later became known as The Reverend Anthony Legh Toller) was George’s and not Edward’s as he had presumably thought.  Edward divorced Alice in 1911 and was awarded custody of their daughter Mary Isabella.  Alice married George Toller in London early in 1912.

Edward first returned to live at home with his parents at 6 St Martin’s for the next three years, bringing Mary Isabella with him.  Edward and Isabella lived in a separate household at 6 Seymour Street after 1904.  Perhaps Edward’s stepmother influenced his decision to emigrate with his daughter to Brightwater, Nelson, New Zealand, or perhaps it was the stress of living under the cloud of notoriety and shame.  It was as a New Zealander that Edward joined the Expeditionary Force, Canterbury Regiment Infantry Battalion.  He embarked on 14th February 1915, served in South Africa and later died of wounds on 30th May 1915 at Egypt, probably on board a hospital ship.  He is commemorated at Alexandria (Chatby) Military Cemetery.  Mary Isabella was left as a ward of William Vernon Rout, a barrister and solicitor in Nelson and seems to have remained in New Zealand.

George Toller also died in the war, in April 1918.  Alice Mabel nee de Legh remarried in 1932, to Walter Storr.  She died in 1947.

Edward’s father William and stepmother Agnes continued to worship at St Martin’s.    Agnes contributed to fundraising activities such as the congregational tea in 1915 and helped with the St Martin’s stall at the Mayor’s Bazaar in 1917.

William died in 1921 at Tudor House, Abingdon Road.  Agnes died in 1924, whilst living at Cheltenham.  William had made provision in his will of 1911 to bequeath a share of his estate to his son Edward or his children in the event of Edward dying.  For reasons unknown, almost immediately after Edward’s death he added a fourth codicil which revoked this.  Instead, he bequeathed a fixed sum of just £100 to Mary Isabella on attaining her 21st birthday, from his estate of over eleven thousand pounds.  To speculate, perhaps the child reminded William too much of her mother or of the painful circumstances of her parents’ marriage.  Or perhaps the passing of years and thousands of miles had severed any feeling of connection between grandparent and grandchild.

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