EVANS, Henry (d. 1842), of Old Town, co. Cork

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1 Mar. 1819 - 1820
1826 - 13 May 1829

Family and Education

4th s. of Nicholas Green Evans of Carker House and Hannah, da. of Randall Roberts of Britfieldstown. m. (1) 1 May 1801, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Andrew Nash of Rossnalee, 1s. 1da.; (2) 1812, Mary Anne, da. of Peter Holmes of Peterfield, co. Tipperary, s.p. d. 13 Dec. 1842.

Offices Held

Lt. RN 1782, cdr. 1794, capt. 1797, r.-adm. (ret.) 1821, v.-adm. 1841.


Evans retired from Wexford at the 1820 dissolution as the nominee of its former Member Richard Nevill, who in alternate turn with Lord Ely had controlled the representation since the Union. On Nevill’s death in 1822 he assigned his interest in the borough to Evans, whose brother Nathaniel had married Nevill’s first cousin, until his grandson Sir Edward Cholmeley Dering* came of age, it having been long established that the ‘cordial union’ between the patrons would be ‘continued to their issue male, and in failure thereof to their nominees’.1 To the annoyance of Dering’s mother Lady Henrietta Geary, however, Evans, ‘without consulting any of the Nevill family’, signed a document, which was circulated to the freemen, saying that by keeping the ‘cordial union’ with Nevill’s ‘nominee’, Ely had ‘fulfilled the compact’ and was therefore ‘not to be considered as pledged to any future support of the Nevill interest’, 29 June 1822.2

At the 1826 general election Evans returned himself as the locum of his patron’s interest, with the support of Ely.3 He signed the petition of Irish landed proprietors against Catholic claims, 15 Feb.,4 and voted thus, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, when he declared that he had ‘lived eleven years in Ireland’ and could not believe in the ‘good effects which are to be produced by these amalgamations and dovetailings’ of Protestants and Catholics, and that the same sentiments were shared by his constituents. He denied a charge that he was merely the nominee of ‘the mayor and a few burgesses of Wexford’. He defended the right of naval officers on the post list to be made admirals and strongly objected to being called a ‘yellow admiral’ by Sir George Cockburn, who apologized, insisting that the term had not been intended as a slight, 16 May. He complained that it was easy for those ‘who lived during the war in comfort and composure, while the navy were defending them from invasion, to talk now only of the dead weight’ of military pensions, but warned that ‘mistaken reductions’ would impair the future efficiency of the service, 19 May 1828. He clashed repeatedly with Hume on the navy estimates the following year, arguing that officers who ‘had been fighting battles in a foreign country and enduring every possible hardship, while the Honourable Member was at home in bed’, had legitimate claims, and on 27 Feb. citing the ‘verse of an old song’: ‘When sailors we are wanting, we give them bread and beer, but now the French are beaten, there’s nothing left to fear’. On 9 Feb. he presented and endorsed the first of some 25 Irish petitions against Catholic emancipation, which on the 16th he declared was ‘inconsistent with the Protestant constitution of this country’ and ‘in conformity with the oath I took on entering this House, I must in conscience always oppose’. He announced that he had ‘joined the Brunswick institution’ because the ‘Roman Catholic combinations growing around me’ rendered ‘the life of every Protestant in Ireland in danger’, 12 Feb., but dismissed comparisons with the Catholic Association, saying their ‘religion is impious and idolatrous’ whereas the Brunswickers were ‘satisfied with their king, their constitution, and their laws’, 19 Feb. He was, of course, listed by the patronage secretary Planta as ‘opposed to the principle’ of emancipation and he voted accordingly, 6, 18 Mar.; but he was absent from the division on the third reading, 30 Mar. He warned that the Catholics ‘we are about to introduce into Parliament are, as we have all sworn, idolators’, 17 Mar., and paired for a bid to prevent their sitting, 23 Mar. He doubted that raising the Irish freehold qualification to £10 would be ‘sufficient to protect the Protestant interests’ and proposed £15 instead, 26 Mar., arguing that a £20 qualification ‘would throw the influence too much into the hands of the aristocracy’ while that of £10 gave ‘too much influence to the democracy’. In his last known speech next day, he complained that

the old ship, the constitution, which last year we thought safely at anchor, with ... [Peel] as her commander ... [had broken] from her anchors, and is, I think, fairly at sea. Protestant ascendancy and the 40s. freeholders have both been thrown overboard, and a great number of their supporters will, I suppose, also fall into the sea.

His comments evidently hit their mark, for on 30 Mar. Peel, ‘borrowing the metaphor of the gallant admiral’, replied that ‘it does not always follow that the pilot is bound to steer the same course to guard the ship from danger’. On 30 Apr. 1829 Dering, who was ‘just of age’, announced that Evans had advised him that ‘indisposition will oblige him to retire’ and declared his candidature for the vacancy.5 Four days later Evans informed Ely that ‘finding my interference in Wexford has given no satisfaction to either party, and been attended with considerable trouble and expense to myself’, he had taken steps to vacate and would ‘decline all further interference in the borough’.6 On 13 May 1829 he took the Chiltern Hundreds, leaving Ely and Dering to engage in a ‘furious family contest for the borough’, in which the controversial agreement he had made with Ely in 1822 featured prominently. A few days before the poll ‘an attempt was made between the parties to reconcile their differences’, in support of which Evans made ‘a long disclosure of the circumstances of the case’, but to no avail.7 His own vote for Dering was later struck off by an election committee ‘on the grounds of his not having been sworn in as a freeman’.8 Evans was one of the three Protestant landlords whom the Doneraile conspirators were hanged for plotting to murder in October 1829.9

Evans died at Old Town in December 1842 and was succeeded by his only son Nicholas.10

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Philip Salmon


  • 1. PP (1835), xxviii. 179.
  • 2. Ibid. (1820), iv. 357; The Times, 9 Mar. 1830.
  • 3. Dublin Evening Post, 22 June; Wexford Evening Post, 23 June 1826.
  • 4. Add. 40392, f. 3.
  • 5. Wexford Herald, 9 May 1829.
  • 6. PP (1830), iv. 357.
  • 7. Wexford Herald, 3 June; The Times, 23 May, 9 June 1829.
  • 8. The Times, 15 Mar. 1830.
  • 9. O’Connell Corresp. iv. 1616.
  • 10. Gent. Mag. (1843), i. 322.