Father: Carwyn Evans
Mother: Gwendolen Evans (née Brickell)
Sisters: Betsan, Marged, Heulwen (died in infancy)
The Evans family lived, almost literally, on the edge of the harbour in Holyhead, Wales. Survival was day to day despite Carwyn Evans' employment as a lighterman and Tomos' elder brother working for a coaching inn. While his mother and sisters worked endless hours in a tavern called The White Shoe, Tomos joined his brother at the coaching inn, where he was chiefly employed in feeding and watering the horses. It was work he despised, having received more than his share of nips, kicks, and head-butts from the animals than he reckoned was his due.
It didn't help that the inn's proprietor was a skinflint, who did not believe in paying his stable crew what they deserved. Especially as regarded the Evans boys, who were barely twelve and nine, respectively. Tomos and Edwyn almost literally broke their backs to earn only a few pennies a day, but neither of them complained. Even the sixpence they received was better than nothing. The benefit of the whole family took precedence over their comfort and health. News of their mother being with child again meant everyone had to work that much harder, for there would soon be a seventh mouth to feed.
The restrained joy of watching his new sibling being born turned quickly sour, when the infant died scarcely a month into its life. It was Tomos's first experience with death. Unsurprisingly, it left its mark on the family. His father pretended to be unaffected but his mother slipped into a blessedly temporary despair. Of all of them, Marged seemed to take it the worst, but she had worked the hardest to tend the infant in its illness. Only long, hard hours at the coaching inn were able to scour the memory and thus the sadness from Tomos's mind.
He was ten when he decided he'd had his fill of the coaching inn. The wage was too low and the work too hard. Despite his brother's attempts to persuade him otherwise, Tomos simply refused to go to the inn one morning. Instead, he roamed the town at will, searching for any work that might not leave him aching so badly he could not sleep. Within a week, he found himself working belowstairs in a great house, there having been no one else he could find who was willing to accept a boy into employment. His new role as a hallboy was almost as bad as being a stable boy and it was not long before he ran away from the house. Matters there were not helped by his limited knowledge of English, for he had grown up in a family that spoke only Welsh.
Going to seaEdit
Going to sea was not anything he'd planned on doing. In fact, it was a decision he made on a whim, following a chance meeting with a man plastering up flyers. Tomos, naturally, could not read and on asking the man what the flyer said, learned it was a recruitment poster for a merchant ship that was preparing to sail for Gibraltar. The vessel needed crew, Tomos was told, and the captain was willing to pay a suitable fee for any man who shipped aboard. Then and there, the choice was made. He had no idea what the as-yet-unmet merchant captain would pay him but he was determined to join the man's crew.
The captain accepted him with hardly a question, such was his need. Tomos was accordingly given a whole crown in return for his joining the crew. He rushed home with his treasure, delivered it to his astonished mother, then, in a whirlwind, stuffed his few spare clothes into a sack and all but flew back to the pier at which the merchant brig was moored. So it was that young Tomos Evans went to sea as a captain's servant. He was shortly given the name Tide, for that was the first 'sea' word he learned to say, and the brig's first mate took it upon himself to teach the lad English.
He stayed with the Evening Rose for six years, during which time he progressed in his education enough to be trusted to work on deck. He was too young to be considered for work aloft but only just. When at last Tide left Evening Rose, he was a few months shy of seventeen, had perfected his English, and discovered his life's trade. The brig had not returned to Holyhead but Tide had arranged for his wages to be sent home to his family. He stepped ashore in London, a confident young seaman newly paid-off from his ship. Freedom lasted only a few days, during which he narrowly escaped a press gang and found himself unintentionally in the company of some whalers.
It was a natural consequence thereof that he signed aboard the whaling ship, Crescent, of which James Gulver was captain. Crescent sailed within the week, bound for Cape Horn. That voyage was long and challenging, never mind highly dangerous, and Tide found himself needing to learn the particulars of the whaler's craft on the fly. He had never been so far from home as Crescent sailed, in that first voyage and in later ones. In the three years he was with the ship, he more than proved his worth, eventually becoming a mast captain and one of the best spear-men aboard.
He would probably have made a career of that, had not Crescent wrecked in storm, within half a day's sail of Plymouth following a successful fishing voyage. Tide and only a handful of his shipmates were able to escape in the cutter, and barely at that. The whole of their cargo, one hundred and sixty tons of sperm whale oil, was lost, along with Captain Gulver and the remainder of the crew. By pure unhappy chance, the first ship they encountered as the storm blew itself out was a frigate, HMS Melampus, which was fitting out for a commission in the West Indies. Their safety came thus at a price, for the five men were immediately entered into the frigate's books. They were now Navy seamen.
After a busy commission in the West Indies, Tide was to serve in three other ships, earning promotion in each. He spent a few weeks on the beach after leaving HMS Fame, but quickly volunteered for service with HMS Marlborough upon learning the captain was Graham Moore, under whom he'd served while with Melampus frigate. He was entered into Marlborough's books as a quartermaster's mate, for Captain Moore remembered him, and it was a happy Tide Evans who spent the following two years with the third-rate until he and several others were sent to a frigate called Terpischore to make up that ship's complement. His one consolation in the move was that it saw him rated a quartermaster, at last.