Evan James Davis was born in Hoxton in 1870, to father Evan James, and mother Margaret, both from Wales. The history of Evan paints a picture of a wealthy family with business ownership, private education and some prestigious residential addresses, thus ending with tragedy following the death of his father.
The 1871 census is the first known location for the family in England, located at 142 City Road. The census lists Evan at 7-months old, Evan James Senior (aged 32) as a Coffee House Keeper, and Margaret (aged 50). They had 3 lodgers, 2 servants and a visiting reverend.
In September 1885, Evan was sent to St Clement Danes boys’ grammar school in Houghton Street to study Business until August 1887. The building is now the London School of Economics, and was just a short walk from his house at No. 6 Sheffield Street, and shows the family must have been wealthy.
On 21st February 1886, Aged 15 Evan was Baptised at St Clement Danes Church in London (linked to the school), they were living at 6 Sheffield Street, London and his father is now listing his occupation as a carpenter.
1891 Census shows that the family is still at 6 Sheffield Street and Evan is now working as a waiter at an Inn. His father is a still confirmed as a Carpenter & Joiner and they have 2 domestic servants.
By 1901, it would seem that Evan Jr. may have followed in his father’s footsteps and taken over a Coffee House (maybe the family still owned it). The 1901 census shows Evan Jr is now the Coffee House keeper, and the family are living at Great Dover Street in Southwark. Evan’s Welsh aunt and cousin were both present at the time of the census being taken.
In April 1901, Evan’s father passed away. We have a burial record showing he was buried 6th April, aged 66, in West London, and confirmed by address. As the 1901 census was taken on 31st March 1901 he must have died between 1st-5th April. Maybe this is why Margaret’s sister was visiting.
On January 12th 1908, Evan married Louisa Ann Brightwell. They were at the time living together at 30 Rosemary Road, in Peckham. A much more modest accommodation to what Evan was used to. Evan is listed as a Coffee House keeper but we later find that Evan had been out of work since December 1907. Both Evan and Louisa’s fathers are listed as deceased.
We can only speculate, but Evan’s unemployment and modest residence comes at the same time as his marriage to Louisa Ann Brightwell. Could it be that this marriage was the reason that Evan was estranged from his widowed mother? Maybe Louisa, a domestic servant, was not worthy of her son.
Things take a grim turn
June 6. 1908 – Evan was admitted to the workhouse by the police, aged 38, listed as a Coffee House keeper living at 18 Holyoak Road, Newington Butts, Lambeth, South London. He had strangled his mother and then handed himself in to a police officer.
Case Notes from Admission to workhouse June 6. 1908 Sent in by Insp. ?M. Kay? June 6. Says he strangled his mother this morning. Went up to P.C. in Pimlico Road and gave himself up saying he has strangled his mother. Wife states not in work since Dec. 1907 and in state of depression during that time. June 8. Is quite certain that he strangled his mother when assumed to the contrary is quite unconvinced & ____ "yes, that's what they say". Y'day thought he was robbed and molested. June 9. Detained by Mr Robinson June 12. Order Made. June 15. Discharged by Mr Robinson - Result: Long Grove
Evan was discharged from the workhouse and admitted to Long Grove Asylum on 15th June 1908, where he spent almost 2 years before his death was recorded on 28th July 1910.
Evan’s burial was on 2nd August 1910, aged 40. Louisa lived on till the age of 75.