Open main menu

EVANS, RHYS or RICE (b. 1607), fanatic, usually known by his adopted name of Arise Evans, was born in Merionethshire, ‘in the parish of Llangluin, a mile from the Bearmouth’ (Narration of the Life, Calling, and Visions of Arise Evans, p. 1). Disinherited by his father, Evans was bound apprentice to a tailor, first at Chester and afterwards at Wrexham. In 1629 he came to London to practise his trade, and heard a sermon at Blackfriars in March 1633, which led him to discover his own gifts of interpretation and prophecy. He began at once to see visions and reveal them; warned the king of the destruction which was coming on the kingdom, and declared to the Earl of Essex that he should one day be general of all England, and execute justice upon the court (ib. pp. 13, 25, 28). In 1635 Evans married, but continuing to prophesy was for three years imprisoned. In 1643 he disputed against the anabaptists, and three years later attacked the presbyterians. Throughout, he says, he maintained the church of England to be the true church. Thomas Edwards refers to him in his ‘Gangræna,’ and classes him with the independents, but the independents themselves considered Evans as a decoy sent to catch them, and tried to keep him from their assemblies (Gangræna, ii. 173; Narration, pp. 53–9). In 1647 Evans was arrested on the charge that he had declared himself to be Christ, and was for some time imprisoned in Newgate (Narration, pp. 60–71). After the execution of Charles I he became notorious by publishing pamphlets urging the restoration of Charles II. Directly the army expelled the parliament he petitioned Cromwell ‘to set up the king upon his throne’ (16 May 1653), and his bold utterances and confident anticipations of a restoration fill the news-letters of the royalists (Cal. Clarendon Papers, ii. 204, 208, 217). An anecdote of an interview between Cromwell and Evans is given in the ‘Faithful Scout,’ 21–8 Sept. 1655. An account of him is also given in the ‘Letters of Robert Loveday,’ 1662, p. 172. Between 1652 and the Restoration Evans published the following tracts: 1. ‘A Voice from Heaven to the Commonwealth of England,’ 1652. 2. ‘An Echo to the Voice from Heaven, or a Narration of the Life, Calling, and Visions of Arise Evans,’ 1653. 3. ‘The Bloody Vision of John Farley interpreted, together with a Refutation of Aspinwell.’ 4. ‘Brief Description of the Fifth Monarchy,’ 1653. 5. ‘The Voice of Michael the Archangel to his Highness the Lord Protector,’ 1654. 6. ‘The Voice of King Charles the Father, to Charles the Son,’ 1655. 7. ‘Light for the Jews, or the Means to Convert them, in answer to the “Hope of Israel,” by Manasseth Ben Israel,’ 1656. 8. ‘A Rule from Heaven,’ 1659.

The date of the death of Evans is uncertain. He survived the Restoration, and was touched by Charles II for the king's evil. Aubrey says: ‘Arise Evans had a fungous nose, and said it was revealed to him that the king's hand would cure him, and at the first coming of King Charles II into St. James's Park he kissed the king's hand, and rubbed his nose with it, which disturbed the king, but cured him’ (Miscellanies, ed. 1857, p. 128).

[A detailed account of Evans's case is given in John Browne's Charisma Basilicon, 1684, p. 162. Warburton discusses the prophecies of Evans in the Appendix to book i. of Jortin's remarks on Ecclesiastical History, ed. 1767, i. 249.]

C. H. F.