HUNDREDS of townsfolk lined the streets of Llantrisant as the local band marched to the Bull Ring on a hot July afternoon in 1892. It was a a memorable chapter in the history of the town, as an open carriage carried a very special son of Llantrisant. His name was David Evans and he had become the Lord Mayor of the greatest city in the world.
This was his first visit back to his birthplace since his prestigious appointment by the Liverymen of the City of London a year earlier. He was only the third Welshman to hold such a position in the history of the institution of London Lord Mayors.
Later Sir David Evans KCMG, a Trustee of Llantrisant and former Alderman of the Borough, he was the son of Thomas Evans of Glanmuchydd Farm.
Born on April 21, 1849 into a family of maltsters and farmers, he attended the local school, before being sent to a seminary at Merton in Surrey. In 1866 his uncle, Richard Evans, head of the firm of silk merchants in Watling Street, London with brother Evan Evans, died during a visit to France.
At the age of just 17, David Evans replaced him. He completed his own education in the South of France and became an elected partner of the firm in 1868.
Sir David Evans (right) and his family at the Welsh Banquet, Mansion House, London, 1892
Two years later he followed the tradition of his ancestry and was inaugurated into the Freeman of Llantrisant at the annual Court Leet. At the same time he married Emily Boakes of Kent and settled in Ewell Grove, a beautiful mansion in Surrey. The couple had eight children - four sons and four daughters.
In 1874 Evans was approached by friends in the ward of Corwainer, City of London to become a candidate for the seat in the Court of Common Council.
He was elected an Alderman of the Borough of Llantrisant in 1883 and in the following year became an Alderman of the City of London for the ward of Castle Baynard. A year later he offered himself to the Livery for the honourable office of Sheriff of London and Middlesex, a post he held for the next two years.
In 1891 he became the Lord Mayor of London and a deputation of Llantrisant Freemen and distinguished individuals including Vicar J. Pritchard Hughes, Evan John, Dr Morgan, D Leyshon, J Treharne, E Treharne and Roderick Lewis presented Evans with a congratulatory address from the people of his birthplace.
Evan John said: 'We cannot but feel that this happy event sheds honour both on the Principality of Wales and upon the little Welsh town which boasts the unique privilege of having a Lord Mayor of London as one of its burgesses and a valued member of its town trust.'
Rev. Hughes said that Llantrisant was proud of him and rejoiced in the fact that one of their sons would: 'take part in building up and maintaining the fabric of the great Empire to which they were proud to belong.'
The Lord Mayor responded: 'Please, be good enough to convey to my friends at Llantrisant how thoroughly I appreciate all they have done for me, and in now entering in my duties as Lord Mayor, I feel I shall be strengthened by the knowledge I possess, that the Principality and my countrymen generously extend to me good wishes.'
The address presented to Sir David Evans by the people of Llantrisant
He went on to hold a huge banquet in the Mansion House in 1892 for the Welsh National Presentation testimonial fund and made a state visit to Cardiff in July 1892 where he stayed with Lord Bute at Cardiff Castle.
Following a visit to the National Eisteddfod in Bridgend, and before an important engagement in Pontypridd where he announced the South Wales Chair Eisteddfod ceremony on the Rocking Stone, he went to Llantrisant. The occasion was to open a bazaar in aid of Llantrisant Church restoration fund to help refurbish the tower and rehang the bells.
It was a special event indeed, since it raised £400 and in the shadow of the tower itself his parents were buried. He was met at Llantrisant train station with a reception committee and the procession led by the band took him through the streets, lined with Sunday School choirs, banners and, according to extensive news reports, 'boys on ponies'.
Travelling in an open carriage, friends and former neighbours rushed out to shake his hand before he arrived at the Bull Ring to loud cheers. He visited the Llantrisant National School and at the bazaar explained how he wished his parents could have still been alive to see him come home as the Lord Mayor of London.
A choir performed the four verses penned by Mr Fardo, postmaster of Cardiff, to the tune of 'God Bless the Prince; of Wales. With one verse reading:
'Llantrisant from her mountains
Smiles o'er Morganwg's vales
And gives to mighty London
A leal lord mayor from Wales.
Then children of Llantrisant
Let his your motto be:
'By honesty and virtue
Virtue and honesty.'
On July 30, 1892 the Lord Mayor, by Her Majesty Queen Victoria's direction, was made a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George.
After an illustrious career Sir David Evans died in August 1907, aged 58 years.
A portrait of him currently hangs in Llantrisant Guild Hall and the name of the street which leads to Llantrisant RFC clubhouse was allegedly named after him.
Although some mystery surrounds whether it was called St David's Place originally. On the other hand it could well have been named Sir David's Place, and according to ordnance survey maps that section of Llantrisant, including Newbridge Road and Dan Caerlan was part of Davidstown.