Thomas Saunders Evans

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Thomas Saunders Evans was an eminent British scholar of and translator into Latin and Ancient Greek. [1] He was born on 8 March 1816, 4th son of David Evans, of Belper. He had a very good memory for architectural detail in buildings.

Belper Town and civil parish in Amber Valley, Derbyshire, England

Belper is a town and civil parish in the local government district of Amber Valley in Derbyshire, England, located about 7 miles (11 km) north of Derby on the River Derwent. As well as Belper itself, the parish also includes the village of Milford and the hamlets of Bargate, Blackbrook and Makeney. As of the 2011 Census, the parish had a population of 21,823. Originally a centre for the nail-making industry since Medieval times, Belper expanded during the early Industrial Revolution to become one of the first mill towns with the establishment of several textile mills; as such, it forms part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

From 9 years old he was tutored by an uncle, George Evans, vicar of Ruyton-XI-Towns, including in Latin and Greek.

Ruyton-XI-Towns village and civil parish in Shropshire, UK

Ruyton-XI-Towns, formerly Ruyton of the Eleven Towns or simply Ruyton, is a large village and civil parish next to the River Perry in Shropshire, England. It has a population of around 1,500 people, falling to 1,379 at the 2011 Census.

At age 12 he was transferred to Shrewsbury School. There he wrote many Latin and Greek poems, many voluntarily and inspired by personal events and escapades, as well as school exercises. There in 1834 he won the blue ribbon of Shrewsbury for the best poem in Latin hexameters on a given theme, which that year was "Arcticus Oceanus". His entry was described as "The exercise which has been successful this year is one of no ordinary kind. It is worthy of Vergil.". Joseph Waite (editor of the book referenced below) could not find any copy of this entry; but Evans recited about ten lines of it shortly before he died.

Shrewsbury School school in Shropshire, UK

Shrewsbury School is an English independent boarding school for pupils aged 13 to 18 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, founded by Edward VI in 1552 by Royal Charter. The present campus, to which the school moved in 1882, is on the banks of the River Severn.

Virgil 1st-century BC Roman poet

Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English, was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He wrote three of the most famous poems in Latin literature: the Eclogues, the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid. A number of minor poems, collected in the Appendix Vergiliana, are sometimes attributed to him.

In April 1835 at age 19 he joined St John's College, Cambridge, where he achieved well in Latin and Ancient Greek matters and won several prizes, including in 1838 the Porson Prize, and in 1839 he got the degree B.A.. He did not get Mathematical Tripos, and thus the university's rules stopped him from going for Classical Honours.

St Johns College, Cambridge college of the University of Cambridge

St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge founded by the Tudor matriarch Lady Margaret Beaufort. In constitutional terms, the college is a charitable corporation established by a charter dated 9 April 1511. The aims of the college, as specified by its statutes, are the promotion of education, religion, learning and research. It is one of the larger Oxbridge colleges in terms of student numbers. For 2018, St. John’s was ranked 9th of 29 colleges in the Tompkins Table with over 30% of its students earning First-class honours.

The Porson Prize is an award for Greek verse composition at the University of Cambridge. It was founded in honor of classical scholar Richard Porson and was first awarded in 1817. Winners are known as "Porson prizemen".

A Bachelor of Arts is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, sciences, or both. Bachelor of Arts programs generally take three to four years depending on the country, institution, and specific specializations, majors, or minors. The word baccalaureus should not be confused with baccalaureatus, which refers to the one- to two-year postgraduate Bachelor of Arts with Honors degree in some countries.

In 1841 he was appointed a Classical Master at Shrewsbury School under Dr Benjamin Hall Kennedy.

Benjamin Hall Kennedy English classical scholar and schoolmaster

Benjamin Hall Kennedy was an English scholar and schoolmaster, known for his work in the teaching of the Latin language. He was an active supporter of Newnham College and Girton College as Cambridge University colleges for women.

In 1843 a sister of his died after a day's illness, and Waite wrote that the distress caused may have pushed Evans into going for Holy Orders.

In 1844 he was ordained deacon.

In 1846 he was ordained priest. Later he became a curate at St.Mary's in Shrewsbury (added to his other duties), and sometimes he preached there.

In 1847 he became a schoolmaster at Rugby School.

In 1849 he married Miss Rosamond Broughton of Llwynygroes House, Llanymynech. His two daughters and three sons were born at Rugby.

In 1862 he became Professor of Greek and Classical Literature in the University of Durham, and thus became a Canon of Durham Cathedral. He lived in Durham nearly 28 years. The old stone buildings and wooded slopes in Durham inspired him to write many admiring Latin and Greek verses.

In November 1863 his wife died after long illness, and this upset him severely.

In 1870 his youngest son died aged 8 of a fever.

During these times he translated much English poetry into Latin and Greek verse, and composed much new matter in Latin and Greek verse. He communicated with Hugh Andrew Johnstone Munro.

From about 1886 his health deteriorated. He went to spas a few times in Switzerland and Germany with no effect.

In 1889 he went to London for medical examination and treatment, with good results. He moved to Weston-super-Mare and lived with some of his family members. There, while appearing to improve, he died on 15th May 1889, aged 73, stated to be of embolism, and was buried in Durham Cathedral churchyard. The last words that he is recorded as saying, a few minutes before he died, were in Latin: "Atrae iuvencae lac Acherontium" (an iambic trimeter) ("milk of a black heifer of Acheron", referring to a black medicine that had been prescribed for him).

Joseph Waite

Joseph Waite MA, DD, was vicar of Norham and a canon of Newcastle upon Tyne, and a schoolmaster of University College, Durham.

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  1. preface of Latin and Greek verse, by Thomas Saunders Evans, ed. Joseph Waite, Cambridge University Press, 1893, and online .pdf here. Waite collected the poems and wrote the preface.