When I was young, I was an avid reader of Science Fiction. As I grew up and developed in school I became more interested in Science. At work as a qualified Scientist I have sought to put that learning into practical applications but all the while I have kept my eye on the future horizon through Science Fiction.
Now as I turn the half century and begin to enjoy retirement I find my viewpoint has changed. I have suddenly become more interested in the past and in history. Previously these held no interest for me. I could not see the point in studying what was past when there was so much out there to discover about the future. The turning point dawned on me whilst watching a Science Fiction film in which one character starts to contemplate events. He remembers his adversary warning him that time is like a predator for ever stalking us, but in his mind he saw time as a companion travelling with him bringing with it all that we are.
I realised then that understanding the past plays an equally important role in trying to understand the present as any future study. Just as any true Scientist tries with an open mind to gather data and facts about his chosen course of study and then methodically tries to set a hypothesis about those facts so the Historian works. It is important in history, archaeology and in researching a family history to have the same open mind, to capture and methodically record all the data, to sift through the information in a logical manner and with an open mind try to draw conclusions about those facts.
Scientists have developed theories and written them down for future generations to study or improve upon so too, Historians try to record the past and to make sense of the many conflicting pieces in such a way that future generations can better understand them. I feel that the work contained here is my attempt to assemble a coherent picture of past events in such a way that my as yet unborn grandchildren and great grandchildren will one day discover and take up the challenge to continue the never ending story. I dedicate the words which follow to all those of past generations without whom I would not even have been here to write these words.
INTRODUCTION TO THE SITE
It is said that we cannot know where we are going until we discover from where we have come. This story is therefore intended to show a little of the family history leading up to the current generation of the EVANS line.
Living today at the start of the twenty first century it is difficult to really envisage what life must have been like even one hundred years ago. Fortunately there are still some people alive today who remember those times or at least remember clearly being told about them. There is some photographic evidence within the family of what people looked like and there are also still some documents and records which show us a little about their lives.
As we move further back into the eighteenth century personal records become more sparse and word of mouth evidence becomes jaded or even embroidered as people remember 'the good old days' through rose tinted glasses. We must rely more on searches of official records coupled with an understanding of the contemporary records from people and events of the time. In this way a picture of their lifestyle if not their actual lives, can be formulated.
Many people trace their family histories back to much earlier centuries. This takes years of painstaking research, detective work, logical estimates and even educated guesses. As the records become less and less so the certainty fades and finally we are left only with possible names and dates. Some more fortunate families are famous or even infamous yielding a greater depth of knowledge and certainty. Other families may have long traditions as landed gentry or running their own businesses or trades which have been handed down from generation to generation.
It is worth noting that as we begin the twenty first century scientists have just declared what might prove to be one of the greatest discoveries since the beginning of time. They have just completed an identification of the full human genome. Not only will this open up new avenues to research into medical studies it offers an opportunity to identify the genes of ancestors. One such study has already been initiated to establish likes between current generations and the early Viking warriors who came to these shores. Perhaps if genetic data banks are established, family historians will be using them to trace their ancestors in much the same way as paper records like census returns or even websites are used now.
The quest to establish a heritage behind the EVANS and other related families has not been so fortuitous. The story has become more interesting therefore not so much for the length of the time line traced back but the background developed around the families themselves over the past two hundred years.
It has to date been possible to discover as many as twelve generations leading up to the current generation. Some details have been established through documents found with family members such as marriage certificates and bibles, discussions with family and relatives but more recently, official documentary evidence has been researched to fill in missing information or to confirm the oral evidence. The internet and local family history societies have also provided valuable links. Once a better picture is painted it can very effectively jog the memories of people to thoughts once lost. Details of events names and places begin to flesh out the skeletons of past ages. Supplementary to this has been a review of social history around the times of the various predecessors which has been helpful in understanding the lives they may have led and how the times they lived in shaped their lives and hence the lives of those who followed.
Statistically when we consider going back though each successive generation we double the number of direct individuals involved. My son has two parents and four grand parents etc. That makes 7 people over 3 generations. At the nth generation there will be 2n-1 people. Hence at the 6th generation there will be 26-1 or 63 individuals on a simple tree.
As well as a vertical family tree depicting previous generations, it is known that from each of those generations that there will be other related sibling descendants who were born and followed contemporary parallel lives. My hope and plan will eventually be to trace back up the lineage and down to other people who may be around today and discover additional information to add to the history of EVANS family. At present only three male EVANS have been identified at the latest generation through whom the EVANS line can continue.
Considering the EVANS family tree at the grandparent level we have at least 4 distinct families which are worth investigating and have their own web pages on this site:
EVANS = Birch Spacey = Buckeridge Collier = Dean Fletcher = Eley
EVANS = Spacey Collier = Fletcher
EVANS = Collier
Each has its own distinct heritage, each has its own social history, each has its own environmental setting. All are different and yet all have preceded my son helping to mould and shape his life and his place in the world today. He is physically and geographically where he is today because of all those that have gone before. The colour of his hair, his eyes and his build will all have been determined in some way or other by the genes of those who preceded him. Perhaps too his mental and physical capabilities, his mental approach to life and his demeanour are all built in through an as yet undefined genetic code.
Fate or fortune brought each side of the family together culminating in the birth of successive members of each generation. It is interesting to track the movement of individuals over time and to establish how each paring came into existence. In some cases this can be determined with a reasonable degree of accuracy but often it must be left to deduction or speculation.
We can define four basic families leading up to the EVANS root, from which the family name originates. The paternal links are through EVANS and SPACEY the paternal grand mother. The maternal family roots are found similarly in the COLLIER and the FLETCHER lines. It is along these 4 family stems that our story will evolve.
There is no exact starting point, there is no exact finishing point. There is no logical route by which we can follow the evolution of events. A family by family chronological path has been chosen but there may be parallel events which link between the pages.
Supplementary to these branches we have the maternal premarriage lines through the maiden names of BIRCH, BUCKERIDGE, ELEY, KIRBY and as the trace goes back in time, other more tentative links like DEAN, TURFITT, HARGREAVES or SLOWIE. Each of these holds interest in its own way and is worth more than just a cursory investigation.
The name EVANS originates from Latin or Roman roots in the name John which for some strange reason became distorted in Britain as Evan. Back in the sixteenth century most people were only know by a single name like Will, Joe, Edward or Evan. When they had sons the son would be called Evan, son of Evan with the last part being shortened to Evanson or Evans. Evans is now more commonly recognised as a typically Welsh name although apart from one very tenuous and as yet unsubstantiated link with Wales, all findings to date show the EVANS part of the dynasty lived around the North East side of Wolverhampton. Despite being a fairly common name today, the first recorded evidence of an Evans family in England was a John Evans who appears in the Suffolk Subsidy Rolls of 1568. He became Bishop of Bangor in 1702 and of Meath in 1716, finally dying in 1724. It is also known that the first of the Evans line to leave Britain for the New World in America included a Lawrence Evans who arrived in Virginia in1622.
My EVANS family line has not yet been traced back further than the start of the nineteenth century. They were a hard working family probably of a not too affluent background working in mining or transport. Marriage linked them with the BIRCH family who, it is believed, had stronger civic ties with Wolverhampton but generally the EVANS/BIRCH characteristic is one of a city life with hard work and industrial diligence. Individual members were born, grew up and died within a local community covering just a few streets within a small area of the city. It was only at the middle of the twentieth century that the family began to move away albeit just 20 miles or so to the east towards Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield and then Lichfield. Eventually due to the call to military service during the two world wars and other reasons, family members began to move away, although as if drawn to their roots, remained ultimately within the Midlands. My family with our young son spent a year overseas in Japan. Now at the start of the twenty first century we find him living in Derby which we shall see forms a geographic link to the other maternal side of the family.
The second part of the paternal link is found in the SPACEY line that came initially from rural origins in Bedfordshire into the grocery and food trade. Again links with the grandmother show an industrious background through the BUCKERIDGE side into London origins. Coupled with EVANS there follows a strong urban industrial thread to life.
Moving to the maternal side, the COLLIER family are a rural folk centred around the small village of Combe in Oxfordshire where many generation grew up following in the rural skills of their predecessors such as thatching roofs or gardening. Again it was in the early to middle of the twentieth century when transport improved and people, together with their jobs became more mobile, that the family began to migrate around the country finally moving through Derby to Lichfield. A spell of military life and an engineering background saw a slow trend towards a similar industrial life style similar to that of the EVANS side rather than the earlier rural life.
On the grandmother's maternal side of this family we find similar links to the SPACEY line with shops and the food trade in groceries. Through the FLETCHER line we also begin to detect the earlier roots of a more traditional military family with links to the days of the Raj and the British Empire in India. This side of the family appears more adventurous moving around the globe from a much earlier time period. They too came to settle in the Derby area linking up with a rarer family name, the TURFITTS who form a cluster around Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. In harmony with this aspect is the grandmother's maternal KIRBY line running back not only to military people but also we believe to clergy in Wrexham. There are also Irish elements beginning to creep in through a SLOWIE branch.
Four different stems coming together through Collier and Evans to the present day. Is my son his own person to act and respond with free will or is there some genetic driving force which will guide his future based on this diverse heritage? Only time and future generations will determine the answer to that enigma.