John Evans (archaeologist) bigraphy, stories - British archaeologist

John Evans (archaeologist) : biography

17 November 1823 - 31 May 1908

Sir John Evans, KCB, FRS (17 November 1823 – 31 May 1908) was an English archaeologist and geologist.



He was the author of three books, standards in their field:

  • The Coins of the Ancient Britons (1864);
  • The Ancient Stone Implements, Weapons and Ornaments of Great Britain (1872); and
  • The Ancient Bronze Implements, Weapons and Ornaments of Great Britain and Ireland (1881).

He also wrote papers on archaeological and geological subjects, notably the papers on Flint Implements in the Drift communicated in 1860 and 1862 to Archæologia.


John Evans was the son of the Rev. Dr A. B. Evans, headmaster of Market Bosworth Grammar School, and was born at Britwell Court, Buckinghamshire. He was for many years manager of the extensive paper manufactory of John Dickinson (1782–1869) at Nash Mills, Hemel Hempstead, but was distinguished especially as an antiquary and numismatist, that is, a collector of ancient objects and coins.

Evans was president from 1885 to 1892 of the Society of Antiquaries; and he was President of the Numismatic Society from 1874 to the time of his death. He was also president of the Geological Society of London, 1874–1876; the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 1877–1879; the Society of Chemical Industry, 1891–1893; and the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1897–1898. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1864 and for twenty years (1878–1898) he was treasurer of the Royal Society. He was appointed High Sheriff of Hertfordshire for 1881.

As President of the Society of Antiquaries he was an ex officio trustee of the British Museum, and subsequently he became a permanent trustee. His academic honors included honorary degrees from several universities, and he was a corresponding member of the Institut de France. He was created a KCB (Knight of the Order of the Bath) in 1892. Much of his personal archaeological collection is now held by the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.

He died at Berkhamsted in 1908.


Evans was married three times, widowed twice, and had six children. He married Harriet Ann Dickinson, daughter of John Dickinson and Ann Dickinson (née Grover), and they had five children.

  • Arthur John Evans (1851–1941)
  • Lewis Evans (1853–1930)
  • Philip Norman Evans (1854–1893)
  • Alice Evans (1856–1882)
  • Harriet Ann Evans (1857–1938)

John's first wife Harriet died on 1 January 1858, and he married Frances Phelps (1826-1890), the only daughter of Joseph Phelps and Elizabeth Phelps (née Dickinson), who died on 22 September 1890.

On 9 July 1892, John then married Maria Millington Lathbury (1856-1944) and they had a daughter Joan Evans.

John's eldest son was Sir Arthur Evans, curator of the Ashmolean Museum and excavator of Minoan Crete. His second son, Lewis Evans continued with the family business and collected scientific instruments that formed the core of the collection for the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford. Joan Evans became a historian of French and English medieval art.

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