Born in Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire, 1 January 1903, the elder son of Harry Evans and his wife Edith Gwendolen (née Rees). Soon after his birth they moved to Dowlais, where his grandfather was a pharmacist, and later to Liverpool. He was educated at Liverpool College and after his father's early death in 1914 he went to the Guildhall School of Music for four years and to the City of London School. Intent on reading medicine he entered the London Hospital Medical College in 1921 with a science scholarship. He qualified in 1925, graduated in medicine and surgery in 1928, and took his M.D. in 1930 when he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians and a fellow in 1938. This work merited his appointment as an assistant director of the medical unit in 1933, assistant physician to the London Hospital at Whitechapel in 1936 and physician in 1947. He worked under Arthur Ellis who instructed him in the traditional English clinical discipline and who brought him into prominence by selecting him as house physician to the medical unit. Subsequently he held appointments in surgery, obstetrics, pathology and anaesthetics, which gave him a broad basis for a career as a general physician. He specialised in the effects of high blood pressure and diseases of the kidneys, making a thorough study of Bright's disease, on which he published papers in medical and scientific journals. Years later he provided an authoritative revision of the section on diseases of the liver for Frederick William Price (ed.), Textbook of the practice of medicine (8th ed.; 1950). In addition he was consultant physician to five other hospitals and to the Royal Navy. It was through his influence that the Royal College of Physicians was moved from Trafalgar Square, having attracted the magnanimous financial support of the Wolfson Foundation towards the cost of erecting new buildings at Regent's Park.
He served the royal family as physician to Queen Mary in 1946, to King George VI in 1949 and to Queen Elizabeth in 1952, all of whom received him as a friend. He was knighted in 1949, and created a baron in 1957. In 1955 he delivered the Croonian lectures and was made hon. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1961. The University of Wales conferred on him an hon. D.Sc. degree and he was made a freeman of his native town in April 1962. He was not keen on open-air activities apart from horse-racing, on which he was an authority, and he often visited Monte Carlo.
He was regarded as the last of the great general physicians of his age, convinced of the need for personal physicians with a critical judgement based on broad general experience, and of the importance of treating patients as human beings. His presence in a patient's room or hospital ward left an immediate impression on every one who came into contact with him. His sympathy and understanding stemmed largely from his own family experiences.
He married in 1929 Helen Aldwyth, daughter of T.J.D. Davies, Swansea and they had two daughters, the younger of whom they lost in tragic circumstances. He died 26 October 1963, and Lady Evans on 3 December 1963 after a distressing illness.
Hubert John Evans (born 1904), ambassador to Nicaragua 1952-54, was his brother.
Published date: 2001
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