Evan Davis was a 34 year old invalid soldier in the 73rd Regiment of Foot. He embarking on board the H.M.S. Dromedary at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight on 7th May 1809, and sailed from Spithead (near Portsmouth) on 19 May 1809 bound for Sydney. He traveled with his pregnant wife Grace (34), and three sons James (7) & Samuel (4), and little Evan (2) who died 2 months into the voyage. The family arrived in Port Jackson on 28th December 1809 with the rest of the 73rd Regiment of Foot. They were all disembarked at Sydney on Monday, 1st January 1810.
Just four days after stepping foot on Australian soil, in Sydney on Friday 5 January 1810, Evan’s daughter Mary was born. At that time Evan, like the rest of the 73rd, was stationed in Sydney but near the end of the month his posting was changed to Port Dalrymple (Lanceston), Van Dieman’s Land (then part of the Colony of NSW). The family was then transported to Port Dalrymple by ship. Evan and Grace went on to have 3 more children all born at Port Dalrymple. First there was Jemima born in 1811, then Peter in 1813, and Thomas in 1814.
In 1814 Evan was transported to Sydney on the Windsor with others in the 73rd Regiment who were traveling onto Ceylon, while his family was left behind in Port Dalrymple. While in Sydney he obtained permission to transfer to the NSW Veteran Company, and permission to travel to back Van Dieman’s Land to collect his family. They arrived back in Sydney on 2 February 1815, and Evan was then transferred to the NSW Veteran Company, which was stationed at Windsor, NSW, on or before 24 March 1815. He was stationed at both Parramatta and Windsor during his time in the Veteran Company, finishing his service at Windsor in September 1823. In 1817 he was one of soldiers in Oxley’s party for the exploration of the Lachlan River.
From his discharge from the Royal NSW Veteran Company in 1823 to his death in 1828 he settled in Parramatta with his family. He first received a land grant of 100 acres, and in 1825 a grant of a town allotment. He worked in Parramatta as a constable until discharged in November 1827 for drunkenness. Drunkenness was not unknown in the colony, especially among soldiers and ex-soldiers, but drunkenness on duty was not acceptable. Prior to this incident he was described by Rev Samuel Marsden as “a man of good character”.
Evan Davis died in Parramatta in March 1828 at the age of 52.
Evan had first joined the army in 1791 as a 15 year old illiterate labourer, and had then been transported to the West Indies to join the rest of the 9th Regiment. After 5½ years of service he was returned to England, and 3 years later he transferred to the 23rd Regiment. On 27 August 1799, less than 1 month later, he saw action in Den Helder in Holland. He was injured in the shoulder in this action, and lost the use of his left arm. After 6 months in the 23rd he was discharged onto a pension at the age of 24. The Chelsea Hospital, who administered the pensions, then, on 4 March 1800, placed him in the Royal Corps of Invalids to serve garrison duty at Pendennis Castle, Falsmouth, Cornwall. It was while serving here that he met his wife-to-be Grace who he married in 1801 at the parish church for Pendennis Castle. Their first child James was born in February 1802, and Evan was discharged from the Invalids at Pendennis after 2½ years on 6 October 1802 to live on a pension at Cardiff Wales, near where he was born.
There is then a missing period between 6 October 1802 and 18 April 1809 when Evan transfers from the 102nd Regiment to the 73rd Regiment after having volunteered for service in the Colony of NSW. During this missing period we do not know where Evan was or what he was doing. He may have served in other veteran/invalid battalions rather than receive the pension for this full period. We do know that during this period 2 more children were born, one of whom was later to die on the voyage to NSW.
Invalid soldiers were welcome for service in NSW, and in April 1809 Evan was at Colwell Barracks on the Isle of Wight outside Portsmouth waiting for transport to NSW with his family. He had joined the NSW Corps close to the time when it was decided that the NSW Corps would be renamed the 102nd and replaced by the 73rd. His military service was then transferred to the 73rd Regiment of Foot to allow him to serve in NSW.
Evan Davis is described in his military records at the age of 24 as being five foot ten Inches tall, of a fresh complexion, with hazel eyes, a long visage, and dark brown hair. We also know that from the age of 24 he had a lame left arm as a result of a war injury.
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- Last revised: Thursday, 27 May 2010 10:19:18
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