Sebastian Evans (2 March 1830 – 19 December 1909) was an English journalist and political activist, known also as a man of letters and artist. He helped to form the National Union of Conservative Associations.
Born on 2 March 1830 at Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, he was the youngest son of Arthur Benoni Evans by his wife Anne, daughter of Captain Thomas Dickinson, R.N.; Sir John Evans was his elder brother and the poet Anne Evans his elder sister. After early education under his father at the Market Bosworth grammar school, he won in 1849 a scholarship at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, graduating B.A. in 1853 and proceeding M.A. in 1857.
On leaving the university Evans became a student at Lincoln's Inn on 29 January 1855, but was shortly appointed secretary of the Indian Reform Association, and in that capacity was the first man in England to receive news of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. That year he resigned the secretaryship and turned a talent for drawing to use, becoming manager of the art department of the glass-works of Messrs. Chance Bros. & Co., at Oldbury, near Birmingham. This position he occupied for ten years, and designed many windows, including one illustrating the Robin Hood legend for the International Exhibition of 1862.
While working for the Indian Reform Association, Evans had met John Bright, and at Birmingham he made the acquaintance of Joseph Chamberlain, who became a friend. In 1867 Evans left the glassworks to become editor of the Birmingham Daily Gazette, a conservative newspaper. In 1868 he unsuccessfully contested Birmingham in the conservative interest in the general election and also helped to form the National Union of Conservative Associations. In the same year he took the degree of LL.D. at Cambridge.
In 1870 Evans left the Gazette to pursue a legal career. On 17 November 1873 he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, and joined the Oxford circuit. He built up a practice, wrote leading articles for The Observer and contributing articles and stories, mostly with a tendency to the supernatural, to Macmillan's and Longman's magazines. In 1878 he shared in the foundation of The People, a weekly conservative newspaper, and edited it for the first three years of its career. When on the eve of the general election of 1886 the editor of the Birmingham Daily Gazette died suddenly, Evans resumed the editorship for a period.
Evans knew leading literati of the mid-Victorian period, and later was a close friend of Edward Burne-Jones, who illustrated his history of the "Graal". Towards the end of his life he retired to Abbot's Barton, Canterbury, where he died on 19 December 1909.
While an undergraduate Evans published a volume of sonnets on the death of the Duke of Wellington (1852). His other published collections of poems were:
- Brother Fabian's Manuscripts and other Poems, 1865.
- Songs and Etchings, 1871.
- In the Studio, a Decade of Poems, 1875.
He translated Francis of Assisi's 'Mirror of Perfection' (1898) and Geoffrey of Monmouth's History (1904), and with his son Francis Lady Chillingham's House Party, adapted from Édouard Pailleron's Le Monde où l'on s'ennuie (1901). In 1881 he re-edited his father's Leicestershire Words for the English Dialect Society.
Evans was also a translator in verse and prose from mediaeval French, Latin, Greek, and Italian. In 1898 he published The High History of the Holy Graal (new edit. 1910 in Everyman's Library), a version of the old French romance of Perceval le Gallois, as well as an original study of the legend in In Quest of the Holy Graal.
In 1857 Evans married Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Francis Bennett-Goldney, one of the founders of the London Joint Stock Bank. Of two sons, Sebastian and Francis, the latter assumed the name of Francis Bennett-Goldney, and went into politics.
- Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). . Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- &sye=&eye=&col=all&maxcount=50 "Evans, Sebastian (EVNS849S )" Check
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- Pittcok, Murray (1 August 2014). Spectrum of Decadence (Routledge Revivals): The Literature of the 1890s. Routledge. ISBN 9781317629528.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "Evans, Sebastian". Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co.