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John William Evans

Sir John Evans at Government House, 1940 (AOT, PH30/1/4057)

John William Evans (1855–1943), master mariner and politician, emigrated to Tasmania from Britain at the age of four. He went to sea on his father Captain GM Evans' China trader Helen, and was master of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company's steamship Tasman aged 27, but in 1886 was found responsible for the wreck of the steamship Esk at Hebe Reef, Tamar Heads, which ended his seagoing career. In 1893 he became Hobart manager for shipping agents Huddart Parker.

Evans represented Franklin for the National Party in the House of Assembly, 1897–1937, and was Premier, 1904–09. Achievements included a new electoral system, free education in state schools, and encouragement of the production of hydro-electricity. Eight times warden of the Marine Board of Hobart, a member of many community groups, knighted in 1926, Evans also sat on the committee that chose the flag for the Commonwealth of Australia. (See Liberal Party.)

Further reading: G Cox, Ships in Tasmanian waters, Hobart, 1971; J Evans, The life story of Sir John Evans, Hobart, 1936; Mercury, 4 October 1943; ADB 8.

Graeme Broxam