In 1851, William Evans, was an office clerk aged 15 and living with his mother and grandparents at Irwell Mills, Broughton, Salford.
He then joined the army and served in the 97th Regiment, which included time in India where he was awarded the Indian Mutiny Medal.
The 97th regiment arrived in Bombay in November 1857. In April 1858 they joined the British forces that lifted the Siege of Lucknow.
Prior to the Indian Mutiny, The 97th Foot was involved in the Crimean War. The regiment landed at Balaklava on 20 November 1854. They took part in the Siege of Sevastopol and the Battle of the Great Redan. The regiment suffered heavy casualties, with two members subsequently being awarded the newly created Victoria Cross in 1857. Following the end of the Crimean war, the 97th Regiment returned to England, arriving in July 1856 before shortly departing a year later for the Indian Mutiny.
According to the muster rolls (WO 12/9706), a William Evans (Regt no 576) joined the 97th regiment on the 10th October 1859 as a Private from England, and thus it does not look like he served in the Crimean War and had a limited part in the Indian Mutiny as it was largely over by October 1859.
At that time the 97th Foot included 43 Officers (a large number of whom were on leave in England including their Colonel H. A. Proctor), 54 Sergeants, 48 Corporals, 21 Drummers and Fifers, and 915 Privates bringing the total to 1038.
Afer serving with the regiment for fours years, principally in Jubbolpore, India, William Evans left the regiment on the 12th December 1863 and embarked for England along with several other Privates. (WO 12/9710).
The 97th remained in India until 1867, where they then returned to the United Kingdom, spending six years at various stations in England and Ireland.
It seems that in Janaury 1869 William Evans was re-engaged as a Private.
On 1st February 1870 he was promoted from a Private to a Corporal and served as a guard in Dover for the rest of 1870.
From March to December 1871 he was in Mullingar, Ireland.
From 1st January to 14th February 1872 he was on Furlough (military leave).
From April 1872 until 1873 he was in Dublin.
On March 5th 1873, he was court martialled for being drunk resulting in being reduced to a Private, 5 days in confinement and in miliary prison until 9th April 1873 where his good conduct pay was forfeited.
On 19th May 1873, he embarked for the West Indies with his Regiment spending the rest of 1873 in Barbados, where he received an additional 2d per day Good Conduct Pay on top of the 1 shilling and 3d standard Regimental pay.
In January 1874 he was in hospital.
On 11th April 1874, he was again court martialled for being drunk resulting in a fine of 10 shillings and military prison in Barbados until the 3rd July 1874.
Sometime between January and March 1875 he was on board ship for 9 days (probably from Barbados to Bermuda) with rest of Regiment.
William Edward Evans died on the 25th October 1876 while in Bermuda.
His Captain wrote the following letter to his mother:
Halifax, Nova Scotia
June 25th 1877
Dear Mrs Evans,
I was captain of your son's company of the 97th Regt at Ireland Island, Bermuda where he died. He had been well and strong to all appearances, until he one day went to hospital and soon afterwards, that is to say in two or three days, I learnt that he was dead. He died without pain I believe.
We were all most sorry for him as he was a general favourite with the officers and uniformly a well conducted man.
I should have communicated with you before had I known your address. He left nothing but his medal for the Indian Mutiny in which I believe he did good service. If you wish to get this as a memento of him, you should apply to the Under Secretary for War, Horse Guards, War Office, London SW.
If you wish to learn anything more, apply to Captain Belgrave, 97th Regiment, Halifax, N.S.
William Evans' regimental number from at least 1869 to when he died in 1876 was 4471 so it is possible that the William Evans described above as joining the regiment in 1859 with regimental number 576 is not the same William Evans, and that he might have served in a different regiment during the Indian Mutiny, or it could be the same person and he may simply have 're-engaged' with the regiment sometime in the late 1860s, probably January 1869.
He was by no means the only one being fined for drunkenness; there are pages of people listed for drunkenness in every muster roll, though his sentences are harsher than most.
Research to establish date of enrolment and record in the 97th Foot:
National Archives, Kew:
WO 12/9700, 1853 - 1854 Muster and Pay rolls, 97th Foot.
WO 12/9701, 1854 - 1855 (No William Evans in muster rolls)
WO 12/9702, 1855 - 1856 (No William Evans in muster rolls)
WO 12/9703, 1856 - 1857 (No William Evans in muster rolls)
WO 12/9704, 1857 - 1858 (No William Evans in muster rolls)
WO 12/9705, 1858 - 1859
WO 12/9706, 1859 - 1860 (William Evans appears as a recruit from England 10 Oct)
WO 12/9707, 1860 - 1861 William Evans reg no 576, Stationed at Jubbulpore
WO 12/9708, 1861 - 1862 William Evans reg no 576, Stationed at Jubbulpore
WO 12/9709, 1862 - 1863 William Evans reg no 576, Stationed at Jubbulpore 63in 1862 and then Saugor in March 1863.
WO 12/9710, 1863 July to 12th December William Evans reg no 576, Stationed at Saugor and then left regiment and embarked for England.
WO 12/9711, 1864 - 1865 India, (No William Evans in muster rolls)
WO 12/9712, 1864 - 1865 Depot, Colchester (No William Evans in muster rolls)
WO 12/9713, 1865 - 1866 (No William Evans in muster rolls)
WO 12/9715, 12 mar to 10 jun 1867, at sea on pasage from india, not found
11 jun to 30th jun 1867, Portsmouth, not found
01 jul to 30th sep 1867, Portsmouth, not found
01 oct to 31st dec 1867, Portsmouth,
01 jan to 31st mar 1868, Portsmout,
WO 12/9716 ,
1 jul to 30 sep 1868, not found
1 oct to 31 dec 1868, not found
1st jan to 31 Mar 1869, Re-engaged Private, reg no 4471, 90 days at 1/3 o.p and 2d g.c., Duty 1st and 2nd muster. (appears in strange place in muster book at end of Private section ie not in alphabetical name order.)
WO 12/9717, 1869
1 apr to 30 jun, Private , 57 days 2d g.c pay, then from 28th May 3d g.c. pay
1 jul to 30 sep, private , 92 days g.c. pay at 2d on top of ordinary pay of 1/3.
3rd muster - Well employ
1 oct to 30 dec 1869, private , 92 days g.c. pay at 2d on top of ordinary pay of 1/3. 1st and 2nd muster -Duty
1 jan to 31 jan 1870, Private then Corporal 1st Feb
1 feb to 31 mar 1870, Corporal 59 days at 1/7 ordinary per diem plus 3d g.c pay.
WO 12/9718, 1870 - 1871 Corporal,
1 apr - 30 jun 1870, Dover. Pay 1/7 pus 3d g.c. pay, guard 2nd muster
1 jul to 30 sep 1870, Dover, Pay 1/7 pus 3d g.c. pay, guuard 1st muster, hospital 3rd muster
1 oct to 31 dec 1870, Dover, Pay 1/7 pus 3d g.c. pay,
1 Jan to 31 Mar 1871, Dover then Mullingar, 3 days on board ship, Pay 1/7 pus 3d g.c. pay,
WO 12/9719 - 1871
1 Apr - 30 Jun 1871, at Mullingar. Corporal pay: 2/2 plus 2d g.c. pay
1 Jul - 30 Sep 1871, at Mullingar
1 Oct - 31 Dec 1871, Hospital 2nd Muster. Corporal pay: 1/7 plus 3d g.c. pay
1 Jan - 31 Mar 1872, at Mullingar, Corporal pay: 1/7 plus 3d g.c. pay. Furlough 1 Jan to 14 Feb 1872.
WO 12/9720 - 1872-3, Dublin
1 Apr - 30 Jun,
1 Jul - 30 Sep 1872, 2nd muster: Guard
1 Oct - 31 Dec 1872. Corporal. g.c. par 3d
1 Jan to 10 Mar 1873, g.c pay at 3d: 63 days. g.c. pay at 2d: 6 days
5 mar to 10 mar 1873: Confined
11 mar 183: Tried and reduced
11 mar to 31 mar 1873 21 days g.c. pay at 2d
In military prison 17 days
In confinement in cells 4 days
No of days forfeited by imprisonment: 21 days
Reduced to Private from Corporal: 11 Mar 1873
Prison: 15 to 31 March 1873
Fined for drunkenness.
Forfeiture: 10 shillings.
WO 12/9721, 1873 - 1874 (William Evans goes to Barbados after 9 days in prison)
WO 12/9722, 1874 -1875, Jamaica & Barbados, apr-jun 1874, 77 days in military prison, 8 days in confinement in cells, 85 days forfeited regimental pay. 1st muster in prison, 2nd muster in prison at Barbados, confined and tried 11th april & 84 days days. Prison 15th april to 30th June. Forfeited good conduct pay 7th April.
Fine for drunkenness: 10 shillings by order of commanding officer, 10 shillings by sentence of court martial, commencement date 11 april 1874. 81 days in confinement.
Jul-Sep 1874, Barbados. In prison until 3rd July, Barbados
Oct-Dec 1874, at Barbados, 1 shilling per day plud 1d re-engagement pay.
Jan-Mar 1875, Bermuda, on board ship for 9 days (prob from Barbados to Bermuda) with rest of regiment.
WO 12/9723, 1875 -1876, Bermuda, apr-jun 1875, 1 shilling per day plus 1d per day
Bermuda, jul-sep 1 shilling per day plus 1d per day plus 1d good conduct pay from 4th July 1875.
Bermuda, oct-dec 1875 1 shilling per day plus 1d per day plus 1d good conduct pay.
Bermuda, Jan-Mar 1876 1 shilling per day plus 1d per day plus 1d good conduct pay.
WO 12/9724, 1876 William Evans died 25 Oct, reg no 4471
The 97th or Earl of Ulster's Regiment, 1824-1881.
H. D. Chaplin, (Howard Douglas)
Maidstone : Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment Museum Committee, 1973.