William Percival Evans

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William Percival Evans

Born (1864-11-22)22 November 1864
Melbourne, Australia
Died 2 September 1959(1959-09-02) (aged 94)
Residence New Zealand
Alma mater Canterbury University College
University of Giessen
Christiana Mayo Kebbell (m. 1893)
Awards Hector Medal (1931)
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1956)
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry and structure of New Zealand lignite
Institutions Canterbury University College

William Percival Evans CBE (22 November 1864 – 2 September 1959) was a New Zealand chemistry academic who specialised in the study of local brown coals.


Born in Melbourne, Australia to an English vicar, Evans moved to New Zealand with his family and they settled at Wakefield, south of Nelson.[1] He was educated at Nelson College from 1876 to 1880,[2] and then studied chemistry and mathematics at Canterbury University College, from where he graduated MA with first class honours in 1885.[1][3] He completed a PhD in chemistry at the University of Giessen in Germany.[1]

Evans was a school teacher at Christ's College from 1892 to 1902 and in 1901 was appointed as a lecturer in chemistry and physics at Canterbury University College, rising to the rank of professor of chemistry.[4] He established a research group to investigate New Zealand lignite. He retired as professor emeritus in 1922 and moved to Wellington.[1]

Following his retirement, Evans remained active as a scientist and administrator, serving on the senate of the University of New Zealand from 1931 to 1945. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1930, he was awarded the society's Hector Medal in 1931 and served its from 1937 to 1938.[1] He was the foundation president of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry, and was elected as that body's first honorary fellow in 1944.[5] He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours.[6]

Evans married Christiana Mayo Kebbell in Wellington on 28 December 1893.[7] He died in 1959 and his ashes were buried in Karori Cemetery.[8][9]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Professor William Percival Evans, C.B.E., F.R.S.N.Z." (PDF). Royal Society of New Zealand Proceedings. 88: 59–61. November 1960. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  2. ^ Nelson College Old Boys' Register, 1856–2006, 6th edition (CD-ROM).
  3. ^ "NZ university graduates 1870–1961: Dr–E". Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  4. ^ "Personal items". Evening Post. 25 May 1931. p. 11. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Personal items". Evening Post. 31 July 1944. p. 3. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  6. ^ "No. 40671". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 January 1956. p. 44.
  7. ^ "Marriage". The Star. 4 January 1894. p. 2. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Cemeteries search (cremation)". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Cemeteries search (burial)". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
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