David Evans

This commemoration is not a plaque but an obelisk type gravestone in Lower Cemetery, Bartholomew Street, Exeter. As it was erected by fellow citizens who felt that the “honest character and political consistency” of David Evans should be commemorated, it qualifies as a public memorial.

The information below is from Den Perrin’s booklet of “Public Inscriptions”, published in 1999 by Exeter Civic Society in its Discovering Exeter series.

The memorial can be found at the foot of steps leading down from the catacombs. It reads:

David Evans of All Hallows on the Walls, smith, died March 3rd 1847 aged 83. He was a Man who dared to be honest in the worst of times.

(left face) This monument is erected by One Hundred and Seventy of his Fellow Citizens who think that his honest character and political consistency should not pass unrecorded.

(right face) He possessed and through a long life had the courage to avow strong liberal principles. For the intrepid and honest advocacy of his opinions he suffered imprisonment in the great conflict of 1791. It was his privilege not only to survive the age of direct persecution but to witness the adoption of his political opinions by the party who had oppressed him.

Den Perrin notes that some of the inscriptions were unreadable in 1999. He writes:

DAVID EVANS, a whitesmith, lived in St Batholomew’s Yard and in 1791 was arrested for sedition, his crime—support of Tom Paine’s call for universal suffrage. At one time his house was attacked by a drunken mob. Local butchers vowed ‘to do for’ the hated Jacobin if they ever caught him in Butcher Row, and for a long time he never ventured into any of the many city inns. In 1808 one of his sons died while helping firemen fight the fire at the Covent Garden Theatre, London, and in 1815 two other sons rescued a boy from drowning in the River Exe.