Sunday, 3 May 2009
Sir Samuel Thomas Evans at 150
There was a marvellous commemorative service at St John the Baptist, Neath Abbey, this afternoon. It was attended by two Lords (both former MPs), the High Sheriff and the Lord Lieutenant of the county, members of the legal profession, three AMs, the mayor of Neath Port Talbot, the mayor of Neath, county borough councillors, and chairmen and councillors from Coedffranc and Dyffryn Clydach communities. (This is all from memory; I hope to fill out the list after comparing notes with Cllr. Keith Davies, who was the prime mover of the celebration.)
Lord Morris of Aberavon, a former attorney-general, gave the address, pitched perfectly for the occasion and the audience. He was obviously well aware, even before being invited to speak to this occasion, of the career of his predecessor as a senior elected law officer (Sir Samuel had been solicitor-general in the Asquith ministry). Sir Samuel made less of an impact as a politician, though, than on his appointment as president of the divorce, probate and admiralty division. Lord Morris said that he had brought admiralty law, in particular prize law, into the twentieth century after it had been virtually moribund since the days of the Crimean war. In doing so, he had earned an international reputation.
There was some splendid singing by the Skewen chorale. The service in the church was followed by a short ceremony at the graveside, during which flowers were laid on behalf of the county borough council and Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats. Afterwards, we repaired to the hall in the nearby school which Sam Evans had attended as a child, for tea and cakes.
The picture shows Lord Morris, the Mayor of Neath Port Talbot, the Mayor of Neath and Lord Livsey after the graveside ceremony, with the Rev. Mark Williams in the background.