Born 31 August 1875 at Hill House, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, son of Titus Evans, master mariner, and Elizabeth (née Wade) his wife. He went to Haverfordwest grammar school and graduated at Jesus College, Oxford (1893-96) before entering the priesthood, being ordained deacon in St. Paul's Cathedral in 1898. By Deed Poll on 2 September 1899 he assumed the surname Wade-Evans and soon afterwards married, 12 October 1899, at St. George's, Hanover Sq., London, Florence May Dixon (died 16 January 1953). They had two daughters. After serving as curate in Ealing, Oakley Sq., Paddington Green, Cardiff, and English and Welsh Bicknor (1898-1909), he became vicar of France Lynch (1909-26). During this period he led a campaign for the disestablishment of the Church in Wales. He became vicar of Pottersbury with Furtho and Yardley Gobion (1926-32), and finally rector of Wrabness (1932-57) before retiring to Frinton-on-sea, Essex, where he died 4 January 1964.
He was a prolific writer, being author or editor of several books and numerous articles and letters in Notes and Queries, Celtic Review, Beirniad, The Guardian, Western Mail, South Wales News and many other journals and newspapers. He wrote on a wide range of topics such as the Welsh dialect of Fishguard, antiquarian problems and church plate (some papers were published as Papers for thinking Welshmen (1907)), but he made his most significant contribution as an historian of early Britain. He believed that the teaching of acknowledged historians of his age on the Saxon conquest and the flight of the Britons to the west — Wales and Cornwall — was erroneous and based on a misinterpretation of the nature of the text of de excidio Britanniae by Gildas. In an effort to support his thesis he translated and made a thorough study of early historical documents and texts, publishing, most particularly, ‘Nennius's ‘History of the Britons’ (1938), Coll Prydain (1950), and the fullest exposition of his views The Emergence of England and Wales (1956, 1959). He did much work on the history of the Celtic church, Welsh Christian Origins (1934), Parochiale Wallicanum (1911), a useful list of Welsh churches and chapelries, and on the lives of the saints in articles in Y Cymmrodor and Archaeologia Cambrensis. He provided a full analysis and translation of the Latin text in Life of St. David (1923) and published a number of Latin and Welsh texts with English translation in Vitae sanctorum Britanniae et genealogiae (1944). His Welsh Mediaeval Law (1909) remains a good text of ‘Llyfr Cyfnerth’ (Cyfnerth's Book), and he contributed an article on Welsh law to Encyclopaedia Britannica (1929). Wade-Evans maintained his unorthodox theories and argued skilfully in their favour all his life. He was an acknowledged authority on Welsh and English hymnody, and his MS of a proposed hymnal, ‘Proper hymns for the Christian year’, is in the National Library of Wales with his other MSS and annotated volumes from his library.
An elder brother, JOHN THOMAS EVANS (‘Tomos ap Titus’, 1 August 1869 - 10 May 1940), who was educated at Llandovery, London College of Divinity and St. John's College, Cambridge, was rector of Stow-on-the-Wold (1899-1939) and became well-known for his eight volumes on the church plate of England and Wales. Many of his MSS, too, are at N.L.W.
Published date: 2001
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