“Thomas Evans, usher since 1826, became headmaster on his uncle’s
death in 1841. Boys called him ‘Sto Tommy’ (‘sto’ being Latin for ‘I stand’); it became the shout to warn of any approaching master.
Clearly snuff taking Dr Evans was a stern disciplinarian with a hasty temper as one Old Boy recalled:
My reminiscences …. are not so agreeable. Dr Thomas Evans was Headmaster; had he lived in the present day he would probably have been summoned before the magistrates for gross cruelty to the boys. I believe that I was the only boy that never received corporal punishment, as the exception among ninety-six individuals. The solitary exemption of myself from the cane or birch, was not the result of any superior merit on my part; I was only a size too big and strong. I have no doubt that with the progress of civilisation a great reform has taken place in the management of the school. It was sorely needed.
In 1844 three boys tried to run away, so the whole school was marched down the street with the culprits handcuffed and their coats tuned inside out. They were ‘blocked’ on the ‘block’, a solid set of three oak steps, kneeling on the bottom step for their flogging.
One culprit, a very powerful Welsh youth, resisted violently, whereupon he was handled by a combination of masters. The contest was exciting and prolonged. When it waxed fierce, and the Welsh boy was struggling violently on the floor, Dr Evans jumped in the most cowardly way on his stomach. We could not stand this; a shout of indignation was raised, and a rush made down the room by the boys, with the cry, ‘Throw them (i.e., the masters) out of the window!’ Doubtless serious consequences would have ensured, had not Evans piteously besought us to stay our hands. My memory fails me as to whether the Welshman was flogged or got off.
In 1929, an Old Boy’s daughter wrote about Evans as the ‘too-well known Gloucester pedagogue, at whose hands my father suffered much, as did other boys…. Dr Evans …. was the headmaster who drank …. He flogged the boys mercilessly, and afterwards his old mother – much beloved by the boys – came to bind up their wounds, and give them cakes, etc., I suppose lest her son should lose the place.’ When he was absent, she used to suggest he was present by playing the ‘cello. One night when he returned from dining out to ‘find the boys enjoying themselves when they should have been in bed, and how he flogged all the big ones and then came to the small boys’ dormitory, where R.W.P. [usher] was naturally alarmed. He was going to have them out in their nightshirts, when …. the head one, declared he was in charge, and they had done nothing, and if anyone was punished, he would be, and he had an awful flogging for them and never uttered a sound….’
From ‘The King’s School Gloucester’ by Roger Whiting,1990, pp 50 – 51