Summary

“Richard Evelyn” from The History of the Evelyn Family. See bibliography.

Taken from the book “The history of the Evelyn family“:

RICHARD EVELYN, the fourth surviving son of George Evelyn of Long Ditton, was born in 1579 or 1580 (reign of Elizabeth). He was the father of John Evelyn, author of Sylva. On the death of his father in 1603 he inherited Wotton as his share in the family estates. He must have been about twenty-four at this time. He was J.P.1 in 1623.

He purchased a house called Baynards in Ewhurst, Surrey, with land belonging to it, in 1629, from one Richard Gurnard, who had bought it in 1628 from one James Jossey.

He married Eleanor Stansfield (daughter and heiress of John Stansfield of the Cliff, Lewes, Sussex) at St. Mary Overyes, Southwark, on Thursday, January 27, 1613-14.  As she was born on November 17, 1598-99, she cannot have been more than fourteen at this time.

The following is a description of Richard Evelyn and his wife from the Diary of their second son, John Evelyn. The account of their appearance is borne out by two portraits of them at Wotton:

“My father named Richard was of a sanguine2 complexion, mixed with a dash of choler ; his hair inclining to light, which though very thick, became hoary by that time he was thirty years of age ; it was somewhat curled towards the extremity;his beard, which he wore a little peaked, as the mode was, of a brownish coulour, and so continued to the last, save that it was somewhat mingled with grey hairs about his cheeks which with his countenance was cleare and fresh coloured, his eyes quick and piercing, an ample forehead, manly aspect ; low of stature but very strong. So exact and temperate, that have heard he had never been surprised by excesse, being ascetic and sparing. His wisdom was great, his judgment acute ; of solid discourse, affable, humble and in nothing affected ; of a thriving neate, silent and methodical genius ; discreetly severe, yet liberal on all just occasions, to his children,” strangers and servants ; a lover of hospitality ; of a singular and Christian moderation in all his actions ; a justice of the Peace and of the Quorum ; he served his country as High Sheriff for Surrey and Sussex together. He was a studious decliner of honours and titles, being already in that esteem with his country that they could have added little to him beside their burden. He was a person of that rare conversation that upon frequent recollection, and calling to mind passages of his life and discourse, I could never charge him with the least passion or inadvertence. His estate was esteemed about 4000l. per ann. well wooded and full of timber.

“My Mother’s name was Elianor, sole daughter and heyresse of John Standsfield Esq. ; of an ancient and honourable family (though now extinct) in Shropshire, by his wife Elianor Comber of a good and well knowne house in Sussex. She was of proper personage ; of a browne complexion ; her eyes and haire of a lovely black ; of constitution inclyned to a religious melancholy, or pious sadness ; of a rare memory and most exemplary life; for oeconomie and prudence esteemed one of the most conspicuous in her County.

“Thus much in briefe touching my parents: nor was it reasonable I should speake less of them to whom I owe so much.”

Richard Evelyn was Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex in 1634, which counties have ever since been under the government of two distinct Sheriffs. John Evelyn writes in his Diary :

16343

“My Father was appointed Sheriff for Surrey and Sussex before they were disjoyned. He had 116 servants in liverys, every one livery’d in greene satin doublets ; divers gentlemen and persons of quality waited on him in the same garbe and habit, which at that time (when 30 or 40 was the usual retinue of the High Sheriff) was esteem’d a great matter. Nor was this out of the least vanity that my Father exceeded (who was one of the greatest decliners of it), but because he could not refuse the civility of his friends and relations, who voluntarily came themselves, or sent in their servants. But my Father was afterwards most unjustly and spitefully molested by that jeering judge Richardson, for repreeving the execution of a woman, to gratifie my L. of Lindsay, then admiral ; but out of this he emerged with as much honour as trouble.”

Elizabeth, the eldest daughter, who had married Edward Darcy of Bartford, Kent, and who had a very unhappy married life, died December 15, 1634, at the age of twenty.

The grief occasioned by the death of Elizabeth Darcy hastened that of her mother, who died on September 25 the following year, 1635, aged thirty-seven. Before her death she sent for her four remaining children, the youngest of whom, Richard, was thirteen years old, and after giving them some pious instructions, handed to each of them a ring with her blessing. She then took her husband’s hand and recommended her children to his care. She begged him to give the money which he intended to spend on her funeral to the poor instead. She sent for every servant in the house and gave to each some good advice. Her physicians, Br. Merwell, Br. Clement and Br. Rand, could do nothing to save her, and although Dr. Sanders Duncombe tried to cure her with a celebrated powder, it was of no use, though she lingered on for many days. When her death was approaching, she laid her hands on all her children, and after resigning her soul to God, gently expired. She was buried at night on October 3rd, as near as possible to her daughter, Mrs. Darcy. The portrait of her at Wotton depicts her in a black dress with a large white lace collar. She has a long, pale, melancholy face surrounded by black curls.

“Eleanor Stansfield” from “The History of the Evelyn Family”

Richard Evelyn possessed a house called Vachery in the parish of Cranley, Surrey. Aubrey in his History of Surrey says:

“In this parish (Cranley) is a Seat call’d Vachery, formerly belonging to the Onslow’s, then the Baynard’s and since to the Evelyn’s of Wotton ; formerly surrounded with a Park, but now disparked.”

John Evelyn refers to this in a footnote. He says :

“This was built by Sir George More of Lothesley in this County, and purchased of him by my Father Richard Evelyn Esq.”

On June 27, 1640, Richard Evelyn went to Bath by the advice of his physicians, and on July 7 his two eldest sons, George and John, having heard that their father was dangerously ill, rode as fast as they could from Guildford to see him. They found him very weak, but he lingered on for some months, returning home on September 8 with his son John.

Richard Evelyn died December 24, 1640. His son writes in his Diary :

“My Father’s disorder appeared to be a dropsy an indisposition the most unsuspected, being a person so exemplarly temperate. On the 24th of December he died, retaining his senses and piety to the last, which he most tenderly expressed in blessing us whom he now left to the world, and the worst of times, whilst he was taken from the evill to come.”

On January 2, 1641, he again writes :

“We at night followed the mourning hearse to the Church at Wotton, when, after a sermon and funeral oration my Father was interred neere his formerly erected monument, and mingled with the ashes of our Mother, his deare wife. Thus we were bereft of both our parents in a period when we most of all stood in need of theire counsell and assistance, especially myselfe, of a raw, vaine, uncertain and very unwary inclination ; but so it pleased God to make tryall of my conduct in a conjuncture of the greatest and most prodigious hazard that ever the youth of England saw.”

Referring entries

Further reading


  1. Justice of the Peace -GS 

  2. florid or ruddy – GS 

  3. The diary has this date recorded as 1633 -GS