Revised 21 January 2019 by author Lawrence Eugene Vaughn Jr

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Examples of Vaughan / Vaughn Coats of Arms


Roman Rule in Wales

Julius Caesar first landed in England on August 26th, 55 BC, but it was almost another hundred years before the Romans actually conquered it in 43 AD. There were nearly 30 tribes of Ancient Britons dotting the landscape, and the Roman conquest of Wales didn’t begin until 48 AD. It took 30 years to complete because of stiff resistance by the spirited defence of their homelands by two native tribes: the Silures and the Ordovices.

Roman rule lasted over 300 years, but was largely a military occupation. The Romans used their engineering technology to extract large amounts of gold, copper and lead, as well as modest amounts of some other metals such as zinc and silver.

Although Latin became the official language of Wales, the people tended to continue to speak in Brythonic (Ancient Briton). While Romanisation was far from complete, the upper classes of Wales began to consider themselves Roman, particularly after the ruling of 212 A.D. that granted Roman citizenship to all free men throughout the Empire. Further Roman influence came through the spread of Christianity, which gained many followers when Christians were allowed to worship freely. State persecution ceased in the 4th century, as a result of Constantine I issuing an edict of toleration in 313.

No significant industries located in Wales during Roman rule because Wales had none of the necessary materials in suitable combination, and the forested, mountainous countryside was not amenable to industrialisation.

Late Roman Era

Early historians, including the 6th-century cleric Gildas, have noted 383 as a significant point in Welsh history, as it is stated in literature as the foundation point of several medieval royal dynasties. In that year the Roman general Magnus Maximus, or Macsen Wledig, stripped all of western and northern Britain of troops and senior administrators, to launch a successful bid for imperial power; continuing to rule Britain from Gaul as emperor.

Gildas, writing in about 540, says that Maximus departed Britain, taking with him all of its Roman troops, armed bands, governors and the flower of its youth, never to return. Having left with the troops and Roman administrators, and planning to continue as the ruler of Britain in the future, his practical course was to transfer local authority to local rulers. The earliest Welsh genealogies give Maximus the role of founding father for several royal dynasties, including those of Powys and Gwent.

It was this transfer of power that has given rise to the belief that he was the father of the Welsh Nation, and he figures in lists of the Fifteen Tribes of Wales.

End of Roman Rule

The Romans vacated the British Isles at the end of the 3rd century. The Welsh, who were the Ancient Britons, were left in sole possession of all of England, all the way north to the banks of the Clyde. The Saxons forced them westward into the mountains of what is now Wales, north to Cumberland and southern Scotland, and into Cornwall.

Rhodri Mawr, or Roderick the Great was the first recorded monarch of all Wales. He died in 893. On his death he gave Wales to his three sons, Anarawd became King of North Wales, Cadalh became King of South Wales, and Mervyn became King of Powys, or mid Wales.

The ancient history of the name Vaughn also emerges from these same Welsh chronicles. It was first found in Shropshire where they were descended from Tudor Trevor, the Earl of Hereford, and Lord of Maylors. His wife was descended from Howel Dda, King of South Wales, in 907.

Descended was Gronwy, Earl of Herford, through a series of Lords of Maylors and Oswestry. They descended to John Vaughan, son of Rhys Ap Llewellyn, of Plas Thomas in Shrewsbury. From some of the many early records researchers examined, manuscripts such as the Domesday Book, the Pipe Rolls, Hearth Rolls, the Black Book of the Exchequer, and the Curia Regis Rolls, the Vaughan family name was traced in many different forms.


In 911 the Carolingian French ruler Charles the Simple allowed a group of Vikings under their leader Rollo to settle in Normandy as part of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. In exchange for the land, the Norsemen under Rollo were expected to provide protection along the coast against further Viking invaders.

Their settlement proved successful, and the Vikings in the region became known as the “Northmen” from which “Normandy” and “Normans” are derived. Their language, combined with French, became “Norse.”

The Norman invasion of Wales began shortly after the Norman conquest of England under Duke William of Normandy (William the Conqueror), who believed England to be his birthright and claimed that he had been promised the English throne by King Edward.

Initially (1067–1081), the invasion of Wales was not undertaken with the fervor and purpose of the invasion of England. However, a much stronger Norman invasion began in 1081 and by 1094 most of Wales was under the control of William’s eldest son, King William II of England.

Following a series of invasions beginning shortly after their conquest of England in 1066, the Normans seized much of Wales and established quasi-independent Marcher lordships, owing allegiance to the English crown. However, Welsh principalities such as Gwynedd, Powys and Deheubarth survived and from the end of the 11th century, the Welsh began pushing back the Norman advance.

Over the following century the Welsh recovery fluctuated and the English kings, notably Henry II, several times sought to conquer or establish suzerainty over the native Welsh principalities. Nevertheless, by the end of the 12th century the Marcher lordships were reduced to the south and south east of the country.

The principality of Gwynedd was the dominant power in Wales in the first half of the 13th century, with Powys and Deheubarth becoming tributary states. Gwynedd’s princes now assumed the title “Prince of Wales”. But war with England in 1241 and 1245, followed by a dynastic dispute in the succession to the throne, weakened Gwynedd and allowed Henry III to seize Perfeddwlad (also known as the “Four Cantrefs”, the eastern part of the principality).

However, from 1256 a resurgent Gwynedd under Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (who became known as “Llywelyn the Last”) resumed the war with Henry and took back Perfeddwlad. By the Treaty of Montgomery of 1267, peace was restored and, in return for doing homage to the English king, Llywelyn was recognised as Prince of Wales and his re-conquest of Perfeddwlad was accepted by Henry.

Edwardian Conquest of Wales

The conquest of Wales by Edward I took place between 1277 and 1283. It resulted in the defeat and annexation of the Principality of Wales, and the other last remaining independent Welsh principalities, by Edward I, King of England.

By the 13th century Wales was divided between native Welsh principalities and the territories of the Anglo-Norman Marcher lords. The leading principality was Gwynedd whose princes had gained control of the greater part of the country, making the other remaining Welsh princes their vassals, and had taken the title Prince of Wales. Although English monarchs had made several attempts to seize control of the native Welsh territories, it was not until Edward’s war of conquest against Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (“Llywelyn the Last”) of 1277 to 1283 that this was achieved on a lasting basis.

In two campaigns, in 1277 and 1282/1283 respectively, Edward first significantly reduced the territory of the Principality of Wales and then completely overran it, as well as the other remaining Welsh principalities. Most of the conquered territory was retained as a royal fief, and these lands subsequently became, by custom, the territorial endowment of the heir to the English throne with the title Prince of Wales.

The remainder would be granted to Edward’s supporters as new Marcher lordships. Although the territories would not be effectively incorporated into the Kingdom of England until the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, Edward’s conquest marked the end of Welsh independence.

While the Norman Conquest of Wales was certainly less than decisive, a testament to the Welsh fighting spirit is that there are more ruins of castles, to the square mile in Wales than anywhere else in the world.

As peace gradually returned to this country, the Welsh, attracted by the economic opportunities, moved eastward into the English cities. This distinguished Welsh family name emerged in Shropshire. They remained seated at Dudliston in that shire for several centuries, playing an important role on the English/Welsh border. They branched to Burlton and Plas Thomas, and to Chilton Grove.


The United Kingdom consists of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Their capitals are London, Belfast, Edinburgh, and Cardiff respectively. Apart from England, the countries have devolved administrations, each with varying powers. The nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation.

The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Sir Robert William Vaughan

The chief of the Vaughan line in the 11th century was Sir Robert William Vaughan, who married into the descendants of Meuric, ancestor of the family of Nanau. The Vaughans branched to Merionethshire where they had a distinguished history of political involvement in that shire. They were seated at Dolymelynllyn in that county. Their present seats are at Shoborough House, Humphreston, Nanau, Burlton Hall, the Castle at Builth Wells, and Hallowell in Maine.

Prominent amongst the family during the late middle ages was Sir Robert Vaughan. For the next two or three centuries the surname Vaughan- Vaughn flourished and played an important role in the local county politics and in the affairs of Britain in general.


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The Welsh name for the stately Dunraven residence was Castell Dwnrhefn, a mansion on the South Wales coast near Southerndown. It was built on the site of an historic Early Iron Age fort (c.500BC). The site of Dunraven Castle is recorded as having been a place of habitation from earliest times. It is said that Caractacus, the old Welsh chieftain lived there and also lestyn ap Cwrgan.

It is said to have been a Royal-Roman stronghold during the time of Bran, the son of Lear. There is record of the Saxons burning the residence of Dunraven during 1050, it is also noted that Rhys ap Tewder destroyed the residence some thirty years later (1080) when it was the home of Iestyn ap Cwrgan, the last native Prince of Glamorgan.

During the time of the Normans ‘Donrevyn’ fell under the Lordship of William de Londres, one of Robert FitzHamon’s Twelve Knights of Glamorgan. In about 1128 the manor and land of Dunraven was awarded to Arnold de Boteler (the Butler of the Ogmore residence of the de Londres family) after he bravely defended Ogmore Castle against the attack of the Welsh.

The Boteler (Butler) family held Dunraven throughout the 12th , 13th, 14th and 15th centuries until the male line of the Boteler’s died out. During this time it (15th century) is reported that Owain Glyndwr destroyed the Castle.

Ann, the daughter of Jane and John Boteler married the soon to be notorious Walter Vaughan, thus bringing the estate into the Vaughan family. During the 1540’s Dunraven is described as a “Manor Place” owned by Walter Vaughan. In 1642 Sir Richard Vaughan sold the estate to Humphry Wyndham, the husband of Jane Carne of Ewenny, whose descendants were the Earls of Dunraven.

In early Tudor times, when Britain had become more settled, castles lost their strategic importance and were often modified into more comfortable country residences. By 1542 records refer to the dwelling at Dunraven as an established Manor House. However, in 1803 it was extensively altered again and refurbished as a castellated mansion.


There is a famous legend about Dunraven Castle concerning the Vaughans, a family who came to the fore as the Tudor ‘new nobility.’ How much of the story is true and how much is legend we have no means of telling, but it is a historical fact that Walter Vaughan, the head of the family, had three sons who were drowned in the nearby waters of the Bristol Channel. Here is the legend.

Walter Vaughan, Lord of Dunraven, once saw a ship crashing upon the dangerous reefs below Dunraven. Swimming out with a rope, he managed to save many lives. He then worked out a scheme of sea-rescue and took his plans to the government of the day. Unfortunately for many, the officials in power refused to consider the plans.  

The rebuff changed Vaughan’s nature, and he became an embittered man, spending his money in reckless extravagance. He married and had several sons, but his newly found character made for poor family life. His wife allegedly died of a broken heart, and his favorite son then deserted him to begin life in a foreign land.

Later, another shipwreck occurred on the reef below, which Vaughan, as Lord of the Manor, claimed as his property. The unfortunate ship yielded much wealth, and this set Vaughan thinking, for his spending had depleted the family coffers. If one ship had saved him from bankruptcy, why not collect a few more?

The people living along the coast between Dunraven and Nash Point (especially those in Wick) had long had the reputation for deliberately wrecking the sailing ships of the day. Their favorite ploy, according to legend, was to put lanterns on wandering sheep and oxen, thus confusing the unfortunate sailors who would then sail into the reef and be wrecked. The leader of the wreckers in the area was a man with an iron hook in place of a hand, known as ‘Matt of the Iron Hand.

Vaughan fell in with this reprobate, overlooking the fact that many years ago, as the local magistrate, he had ordered the seizure of Matt for a misdemeanor. In the ensuing arrest, there had been a struggle in which Matt had lost his hand to a knife thrust. Perhaps Vaughan thought that Matt had forgotten, or would not hold a grudge, when there was profitable business in the offing. It was a mistake that cost him dearly.

The shipwrecking business was successful. Vaughan’s fortune began to prosper. But, it was not long before his evil ways returned to him in kind. First two of his sons drowned. They had set forth in a small boat to do some fun fishing, but a sudden storm arose, driving the craft on to the fearful reef.

Vaughan had to watch helplessly from the cliffs above as the two boys met their death dashed upon the rocks. In the ensuing turmoil, with all the servants rushing from the castle to try to help, his youngest son somehow fell into a vat of whey and was also drowned.

These events were regarded as just retribution for the evil he had done. Vaughan must have thought so too, for he began to try to make amends for his bad deeds. But, his final punishment was now approaching in the form of Matt the Iron Hand.

One day, during a terrible storm, Vaughan saw a ship trying to seek shelter near the coast. It might have made it, but, as it got dark, Matt put out their false lights and the ship was lured to its doom. Amid the shrieking of the wind and the violent crashing of the waves, the crew tried to swim frantically towards the beach. Only one man made it.

He had to be dealt with. No one could be allowed to live to claim the wreckage or become a future witness in court. Matt advanced on the exhausted swimmer and killed him.  No sooner had he done so than he recognized his victim, and his sadistic nature felt a surge of exultation. He reached down and cut off the sailor’s hand.

Back on the clifftop Vaughan was watching. He saw Matt coming toward him with the bloody hand of the murdered man. Matt held out the hand and gave it to Vaughn. Turning to get more light, Vaughan saw a ring on one of the fingers. Slowly disbelief turned to despair and terror as the nobleman realized the full enormity of what had happened. The ring was his family crest, and the hand was that of his favorite son, who had left home such a long time ago.

Roger Vaughan of Talgarth

Roger Vaughan, of Talgarth, was the third son of Sir Roger Vaughan. He married Frances, base daughter of Thomas Somerset, who married secondly, William Vaughan of Tretower. Roger Vaughan’s son and heir. Roger Vaughan, married in 1608, Ann, daughter of Paul Delahaie of Alltyrynys.

Wilmot Vaughan

Wilmot Vaughan, 1st Earl of Lisburne, died in 1813 and was succeeded as 2nd Earl of Lisburne by his elder son, also Wilmot Vaughan. The 2nd Earl died, unmarried in 1820, and was succeeded by his half brother John Vaughan (1769-1831), 3rd Earl of Lisburne, colonel in the army, and Member of Parliament for Cardigan, 1796/1818.


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Ruins of Tretower Castle

Tretower (Welsh name: Gastell Tretŵr was founded in the early 1100s as a motte and bailey castle by Picard, a follower of Bernard de Neufmarché. Probably around 1150, Picard’s son, Roger Picard I, replaced the motte with a shell keep.

By about 1230 a tall cylindrical keep was added to the inside of the shell keep, possibly by his great-grandson, Roger Picard II, and the space between was roofed over. At this time the earlier bailey was walled in stone and provided with cylindrical corner towers.

The castle was roughly triangular in design, with the motte and keep assemblage occupying the western corner. The 12th century shell-keep is an irregular enclosure with a gate-tower on the line of approach from the bailey. In the centre of the shell stands the tall cylindrical 13th century keep.

The keep is of three stories, with an original entrance at first floor level, above a strong, slanted batter or talus. The top of the talus is marked by a decorative string-course of stone. The Vaughans of Tretower (Tre’rtwr) were another branch of the families of Welsh derivation, which in its day was of great consideration in Brecknockshire.

The best documented of the line was Sir Roger Vaughan, of Bredwardine, Herefordshire, who fell in the battle of Agincourt, 25 October 1415, and was, like his neighbor and father- in-law, Sir David Gam, vainly knighted by Henry V. while dying on the field.

Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine

Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine left three sons by Gwladys, daughter of Dafydd Gam; Watkin Vaughan, heir of Bredwardine, Thomas ap Roger, who founded the Vaughan of Hergest family, and (Sir) Roger Vaughan, founder of the Vaughan of Tretower family. They were brought up with their half brothers, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke (died 1469), and Sir Richard Herbert (died 1469), sons of Sir William ap Thomas of Raglan (died 1446). Gwladys died, in 1454.

In Dwnn’s Visitations of Wales, the Vaughan of Tretower lineage is given in brief as follows, beginning with: “Sir Wa(l)ter Vycan, Kt.,” living when that pedigree was written (1613):-“Syr Wa(l)ter Vychan, Knight., ap Tomas Vychan, ap Wa(l)ter Vychan, ap Syr Richiart Vychan, Kt., ap Tomas Vychan, ap Watkyn Vychan as Syr Rooser (Roger) Vychan, (The Agincourt hero), (o Gwladys v. (Dau. of) Syr David Gam,) ap Rosser hen, ap Gwalter Sais, ap Rosser Vawr, ap Jeuan, ap Howel, ap Seystylit, ap Llewelyn, ap Moreiddig Warwyn, ap Trwmbaenog, ap Meynyrch, arglwydd Brycheiniog” (Lord of Brecknock).

In the early 14th century, a commodious Country Manor House, with all modern conveniences and style of the time, was  constructed on the grounds of the original castle fortifications which form today’s Tretower Court. Over time, the lords of Tretower favoured the more luxurious Manor House Court, and Tretower castle fell into disuse as it became more and more outdated.

Further research shows that it was the son of Sir Roger Vaughan of Agincourt celebrity who was, himself, of “Bredwardine,” and the son of a “Roger of Bredwardine,” whose mother was a “daughter and co-heiress of Sir Walter Bredwarden” that was the first called of Tre’twr.

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He was the third son of Sir Roger (of Agincourt) by Gwladys, daughter of Sir David Gam, and had as wife Denise, daughter of Thomas Vychan of Tyleglas. Their son Thomas was the last who enjoyed the dignity of knighthood. But, the family maintained its position for generations after him, for we find his great-great grandson, “William Vychan, of Tre’rtwr,” obtaining in marriage, Frances, daughter of Thomas Somersett, Esquire, 3rd son of Henry, Earl of Worcester.

The Great Manor House of Vaughans, is now a farmhouse in the village of Tre-twr, and generally overlooked by researchers seeking the antiquarian and picturesque. But, it still has a beauty of its own, when you realize how much everything has changed since feudal times. Leland calls the Great Manor House “the faire place of Henry Vehan, Esq.”

Sir Thomas Vaughan, Soldier and Diplomat

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir Thomas Vaughan (c. 1410 – June 1483) was a Welsh statesman and diplomat, who rose to prominence before and during the Wars of the Roses. He began as an adherent of Jasper Tudor and King Henry VI of England, and was appointed to several offices by Henry. He was nonetheless a Yorkist by inclination, as were many Welshmen of the time.

After the Yorkist victory in 1461 he became a loyal and important servant of King Edward IV. In 1483, he was executed by Richard III as part of his seizure of the throne. The tomb of Sir Thomas Vaughan is in St John the Baptist’s chapel at Westminster Abbey. A grey Purbeck marble tomb chest stands in an arched canopy, with space at the west end for a priest to kneel and pray.

His coat of arms appears above with two defaced shields in the arcades.On the top of the chest is the remains of the three foot high brass figure of Sir Thomas dressed in plate armour but with no helmet or gauntlets. His head rests on his crest of a unicorn’s head and his sword hangs from the middle of his belt. The feet have been broken away as have shields above the figure and on the top and side of the chest. In the 1680s a Latin inscription around the rim was still visible and can be translated: “Thomas Vaughan, treasurer to King Edward the fourth and chamberlain to his first born son. Rest in Peace. Amen”

Life Story

Vaughan was the son of Robert and Margaret Vaughan of Monmouth. In 1446 he was appointed to the offices of Steward, Receiver, and Master of the Game in Herefordshire and Ewyas, and Steward, Constable, Porter, and Receiver of Abergavenny. In 1450, he became Master of the Ordnance. He entered Parliament in 1455 as MP for Marlborough.

Despite his early association with Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, Vaughan was accused of plotting against King Henry VI of England as early as 1459. Somehow he regained the king’s favour, and in 1460 was appointed Keeper of Henry VI’s “great Wardrobe”.

After Henry’s defeat at Saint Albans in 1461, Vaughan, along with Philip Malpas and William Hatcliffe, sailed for Ireland with Henry’s treasury, but were captured by French pirates. Edward IV, surprisingly, ransomed Vaughan from the pirates, for which Vaughan was forever afterwards loyal. Edward soon came to trust Vaughan and placed him in high offices.

Vaughan was appointed Sheriff of Surrey and Sussex for 1464. In 1465 Edward made him Treasurer of the King’s Chamber and Master of the King’s Jewels. Edward also sent Vaughan as ambassador to the courts of Burgundy and France. He helped negotiate the marriage of Edward’s sister, Margaret to the Duke of Burgundy in 1468.

In 1475, on the same day that Edward’s eldest son, the future Edward V, was invested as Prince of Wales, Vaughan was knighted, having acted for some years as Chamberlain to the young prince. In 1478, he was elected to parliament as Knight of the Shire for Cornwall.

After Edward IV died in 1483, his brother, Richard was named Lord Protector of the realm for Edward’s eldest son and successor, the 12-year-old Edward V. Sir Thomas Vaughan was accompanying Edward V from Ludlow to London when the party was intercepted by the Richard, Duke of Gloucester, future King Richard III. He had Vaughan arrested and executed along with Anthony Woodville, 2nd Earl Rivers and tutor for Edward V.

Also arrested was Edward V’s half brother Sir Richard Grey the son of Sir John Grey of Groby and the first husband of Elizabeth Woodville. All three were beheaded at Pontefract Castle on 25 June 1483, in West Yorkshire. The young princes, Edward and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York, were not seen in public after August, and accusations circulated that the boys had been murdered on Richard’s orders.

Vaughan was the second husband of Eleanor Arundel, widow of Sir Thomas Browne, who had likewise been executed in 1460. Shakespeare mentions his arrest and death without trial in his play  “Richard III,” In which Vaughan’s ghost appears to the King on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth, in which the king died.


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It is believed by historians that Bredwardine castle was built in the second half of the 12th century. By 1227 the castle had become the property of the Baskerville family, and then passed from the Baskervilles to the Vaughan family. Roger Vaughan was the son-in-law of Dafydd Gam7 and converted the castle and manor into a multi-gabled house.

The converted castle was the home of the main branch of the Vaughans, situated between Hereford and Hay on the Wye River in one of the most beautiful spots in the country. It sat on the banks overlooking the Wye River, sheltered by the wooded hills. Bredwardine Castle was rebuilt by Roger Vaughn in 1639-40.The Vaughans lived at the castle for many years, but only the earth works and traces of the stone walls of the tower remain today.

Bredwardine village’s Norman Church contains two effigies of medieval knights. The later one, in alabaster, is reputed to be that of Sir Roger Vaughan who fought at Agincourt with Henry V.

Roger Vaughan left three sons by Gwladys, daughter of Dafydd Gam; Watkin Vaughan, heir of Bredwardine, Thomas ap Roger, who founded the Vaughan of Hergest family, and (Sir) Roger Vaughan, founder of the Vaughan of Tretower family. They were brought up with their half brothers, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke (died 1469), and Sir Richard Herbert (died 1469), sons of Sir William ap Thomas of Raglan (died 1446). Gwladys died, in 1454.

Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine

Sir Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine (died 25 October 1415), also known as Roger Fychan the younger, was a Welsh gentleman, described as having possessed wealth, rank, and high respectability. Roger’s seat of residence, Bredwardine Castle, is estimated to have been a strong and formidable fortress, located on the banks of the Wye river in Herefordshire, two miles north of Moccas Court. The ruins of Bredwardine Castle are thought to be repurposed and used in the building of Moccas Court.


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   The first of the Vaughans to reside here was Thomas ap Vaughan, son of Roger Vaughan of Bredwardine, who was killed at Agincourt. His mother was Gwladys, daughter of Dafydd Gamarried He was, therefore, a full brother of Watkin Vaughan of Bredwardine, and Sir Roger Vaughan of Tretower, and a uterine brother of Sir William Herbert, earl of Pembroke, and of Sir Richard Herbert. His wife was Ellen Gethin, daughter of Dafydd ap Cadwgan ap Phylip Dorddu, one of the Vaughans of Tyle Glas.

Thomas ap Roger of Hergest

Thomas was a son of Sir Roger “of Bredwardine” Vaughan (aka Vychan, and Fychan), born 1377 in Bredwardine, Herefordshire, England. Sir Roger was son of Roger Vaughan and Anne (Devereaux) Vaughan. He married Gwladus (ferch Dafydd) Herbert in 1398. They were parents of Watkin (Vaughn) Vaughan, Thomas of Hergest ap (Roger) Vaughan, Roger Vaughan and Elizabeth (Vaughan) gwraig Morgan ap Jenkin. Sir Roger died 1415 in Agincourt, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Lorraine, France.

The earliest record of Thomas is that he was constable of the castle of Huntingdon, some two miles from Hergest in 1422. He was receiver of the three lordships of Brecknock, Hay, and Huntingdon in 1453-4. At the Coventry Parliament of 1457, he was granted a general pardon, with others of his kinsmen and neighbours, an indication that Henry VI’s advisers hoped to prevent them from throwing in their lot with the Yorkist party.

Again in 1460, he was placed on a commission to seize, in the king’s name, the castles and manors of the duke of York and the earl of Warwick in Elvell, Melenith, Gwerthrynion, and on the Herefordshire border. In 1461, he was appointed receiver of the three lordships during the minority of the heir to the duchy of Buckingham.

Like his brothers, however, he joined the Yorkists. He is found with them on commissions of oyer and terminer in North Wales in 1467, and it was with their forces that he marched to his death at the field of Edgecote, near Banbury, in 1469. There is some uncertainty about the date of his death.

His decapitated body was brought home for burial at Kington, and, despite much renovation, the alabaster tomb, which his widow had erected in that church, survives to this very day. He is said to have been 69 years old when he died. In the pedigree books, he is described as lord of Hergest, Blethvaugh, Nash, and Llaneinion.

His widow was living at Nash, near Presteign, in 1474, when she obtained an indulgence for those who would pray for her husband’s soul.

Sir Thomas and Ellen had three sons, Watkin Vaughan, Richard Vaughan, who died shortly after his father in battle at Banbury, in 1469, and Roger Vaughan of Clyro. There was also a daughter, Alice, wife of Robert Whitney, upon whose wedding Lewis Glyn Cothi composed an epithalamium.

Unlike his Lancastrian parents, Thomas and his brothers were Yorkist supporters. In September 1461 Edward IV appointed Thomas receiver of Brecon, Hay, and Huntington during the minority of the duke of Buckingham. This reinforced an allegiance to the Yorkist regime,and Thomas and his brothers all fought with their Herbert kinsmen at Edgcote in 1469 when Thomas lost his life. Ellen, his widow, was still living near Presteigne in 1474.

Vaughan Burial Tomb

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Alabaster tomb of Sir Thomas Vaughan of Hergest Court, killed at the Battle of Edgcote Moor near Banbury in 1469, fighting on the Yorkist side, and wife Ellen Gethin, daughter of Cadwgan ap Dafydd of Llandister. Alabaster tombs were typical for burials of the wealthy in church catacombs in that time.

Sir Thomas Vaughan and Ellen Gethin children:

  • 1. Watkyn 1504 married [1] Gwenhwyfar Beinon;  [2] Sybil, daughter of Sir James Baskerville of Eardisley by Sibyl Devereux of Weobley
  • 2. Roger married Jane, daughter of Dafydd ap Gwilym of Llanddewi Ysgyryd
  • 3. Gwenllian married Joan ap Dafydd
  • 4. Richard, died 1469 in the battle of Edgecote Moor, Banbury
  • 6. Gruffydd married Lleucu ferch Ieuan Jenkin
  • 7. Elisabeth / Alice married Robert son of Eustace Whitney and Joan Trussel of Elmesthorpe

Black Vaughn

This Thomas Vaughan was known locally as “Black Vaughan.” During the War of the Roses, he fought originally on the Lancaster’s side, but switched his allegiance to the Yorkist cause, and was subsequently killed at the Battle of Banbury.

Tradition says he was an incredibly evil man, although the lack of documentary evidence backing this up leads many to believe his nickname of ‘Black Vaughan’ may easily be attributable to his black hair, rather than his demeanour.

According to local legend, after his headless body was brought back and buried in Kington, Black Vaughan was a restless spirit who wreaked havoc amongst the townsfolk after his death.

Legend says his ghost haunted the lanes until 12 parsons armed with 12 candles, despite encountering great difficulties during the ceremony lured the ghost into a silver snuff box and buried it beneath a large stone in the bottom of Hergest Pool.

Ellen the Terrible

Not to be outdone, Ellen, his wife, was known as “Ellen the Terrible” because she is said to have avenged her murdered brother, Dafydd, by attending an archery tournament disguised as a man, and shooting an arrow through the heart of her cousin, Siôn Hir ap Phylip Fychan. He had killed her brother, Dafydd Fychan, of Llinwent in Llanbister.

Other Vaughan Alabaster Tombs

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Watkin Vaughan

Thomas’ heir, Watkin Vaughan, maintained the tradition that made Hergest a resort for the greatest Welsh bards of the 15th century. For three generations Welsh culture found a home at Hergest. There were preserved the ‘Red Book of Hergest,’ which is now at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and the ‘White Book of Hergest,’ the collection of Welsh prose and verse (believed to have been largely transcribed by Lewis Glyn Cothi ) which was lost in the Covent Garden fire of 1808.

Watkin Vaughan married Sybil, daughter of Sir John Baskerville, and grand-daughter of Sir Walter Devereux. His cousin, William Herbert, earl of Huntingdon, gave him the stewardship and receivership of the castle and lordship of Huntingdon, Herefordshire, in 1484 , and he was made seneschal of the lordship of Brecknock by Thomas ap Sir Roger Vaughan of Tretower. He was an arbitrator in a case of murder in 1485.

The bards were extravagant in their eulogies on him. Tudur Penllyn says that he was the controller of all taxes in Powys, and that he was a constable on the banks of both the Vyrnwy and the Wye. Nine children are recorded to him. It will suffice to name James Vaughan, the heir, and the second son Roger Vaughan, who married Ellen Hergest, daughter of Sir Thomas Cornwall.

Sir Thomas Cornwall (1468–1537) was the 8th feudal baron of Burford. He was born the son of Sir Edmund Cornwall of Burford, Shropshire. He succeeded his father in 1489, was knighted at the Battle of Blackheath in 1497, and made a knight banneret in 1513.

Watkin Vaughan Killed in Battle

Watkin Vaughan was killed by an arrow, one source says at Hereford, another at the battle of Mortimer’s Cross. He had married Elizabeth daughter of Sir Henry Wogan and had at least fifteen children; one of them, William Vaughan of Rhydding. The second son slew the Earl of Warwick, the kingmaker, when the earl was trying to escape from the battle at Barnet in 1471.

William was regarded as the supreme champion on the battlefield after the death of his uncle Thomas ap Roger of Hergest. He was constable of Aberystwyth castle. Another of Watkin’s sons, Lewis Vaughan was described as being of Llanbedr, Painscastle and Rhulen.

From John Vaughan, another of his sons, were descended the Vaughans of Pont-faen. The John Vaughan, illegitimate son of Watkin Vaughan mentioned earlier, was father of Sir Hugh Johneys, Knight of the Sepulchre.

Watkin Vaughan’s heir was Sir Thomas Vaughan who married Eleanor, daughter of Robert Whitney.

Thomas’ heir was Sir Richard Vaughan, knighted at Tournai on the 14th of October 1513, Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1530 and 1541, therefore must have owned considerable property in that county at the time, and married Anne, daughter of John Butler and heiress of the Dunraven and Pen-bre estates.

The main line of the family moved from Bredwardine to Dunraven. Sir Richard Vaughan’s heir, Walter Vaughan, was Sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1557 and was certainly living at Dunraven in 1584.

Sybil, Roger Vaughan ‘s daughter, was wife of Hugh Lewis, Harpton, one of the commissioners who signed Gruffudd Hiraethog ‘s bardic licence in 1545 and was father of John Lewis of Llynwene.

James Vaughan of Hergest was the other commissioner. His wife was Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Sir Edward Croft. Their heir, Charles Vaughan, was Member of Parliament for Radnorshire, in 1553. His first wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Baskerville of Eardisley, and the second Margaret, daughter of Sir William Vaughan of Porthaml, and widow of Roger Vaughan of Clyro.

Walter Vaughan was the heir, and was knighted on 27th June 1603. He is buried at Tenby Pembrokeshire.  His heir was his son John Vaughan, then James Vaughan, who matriculated at Oxford at the age of 16, in November 1621. John Vaughan was his heir.

Silvanus Vaughan, John ‘s son, matriculated at Oxford, aged 17, in March 1676, and took his M.A. degree in 1682. He was rector of St. Mary’s Church, Tilston, Cheshire, and was buried at Kington, 9 July 1706.

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 St. Mary’s Church, Tilston, Cheshire

The Hergest estate passed to Frances, daughter of John Vaughan. She married William Gwyn Vaughan of Trebarried (d.1752 ), who was descended from an illegitimate son of Sir Roger Vaughan of Tretower.

Walter Vaughan’s heir was Thomas Vaughan, Sheriff of Carmarthenshire in 1566 and 1570. He married Catherine, daughter of Sir Thomas Johnes of Abermarlais. Thomas Vaughan purchased the estate of Fallestone Wiltshire.  

Walter’s second son was Charles Vaughan, ancestor of the Vaughans of Cwmgwili and Pen-y-banc. Charles Vaughan, married Francis, daughter and heiress of Sir Robert Knolles of Porthaml. This brought the estates of Porthaml into the Vaughan family. Sir Charles Vaughan’s son, Thomas Vaughan, inherited the estates. He sold Dunraven. When he died without a male heir, that main line died out.

Sir Walter Vaughan left the remaining estates to his sister Bridget Vaughan, who in 1677 married John Ashburnham, later Lord Ashburnham.

Rowland Vaughan of Caer Gai

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Caer Gai (also Caer-gai) was originally a Roman fort in the district of Penllyn, Gwynedd, Wales. It is located about 1 mile or 1.6 km north of the village of Llanuwchllyn, and the same distance west of Lake Bala.

The fort was the home of the bard Tudur Penllyn (c. 1420-1485) and his son Ieuan (fl. c. 1480). Tudur obtained the fort after marrying Gwerful Fychan (Vaughan), a descendant of Rhirid the Wolf (died circa 1160), and the fort may have been owned by Rhirid when he received the lordship of Penllyn, as there are references to the court of Penllyn being held at the fort in medieval times.

A new mansion was later built on the site. Rowland Vaughan (circa 1587-1667), a poet and well-known royalist in the English Civil War, lived there. The mansion was burned down in 1645 during that war, but a notable farmhouse was built in its place, which is still standing today.

Rowland Vaughan was the second son of Watkyn Vaughan of Bredwardine, Herefordshire. The Vaughan family was closely entwined with another local family, the Parrys, with numerous inter-marriages. It was through the contact of his great-aunt, Blanche Parry, that Rowland came to spend some time in the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England, Blanche being one of the queen’s longest-serving women. However Rowland complained of the ‘bitternesse’ of Blanche’s ‘humor’.

Rowland left court to join the military, leaving for the Nine Years’ War in Ireland. Here the combination of bad food and wet weather invalided him from the Army, and he returned to Bredwardine. He recovered in six months and was planning to take to the field again, but met a ‘country-gentlewoman’ (another Parry) who had inherited a local manor, Newcourt, and married her. Rowland also inherited an adjoining estate, Whitehouse in Turnastone. The combined estates stretched along the Golden Valley, on the west bank of the River Dore, from Peterchurch to Bacton.

Rowland became established as an English Manoral Lord. He is credited with the introduction of a new irrigation system that greatly improved the grass and hay production of meadows through a system of periodic “drownings”.

This method so improved grass production that lands formerly needed to provide livestock with food during the winter could be given over to grazing or cereal production. It was one of the many new methods introduced during the British Agricultural Revolution that increased crop yields and allowed for the development of large cities.

In 1610 Rowland published a book describing the system, Most Approved and Long experienced Water Workes containing The manner of Winter and Summer drowning. In it he claimed that the Trench Royal was navigable, and was being used to ship goods from one end of the estate to the other. The book also claimed they built up the area, including a mill and up to 2,000 workers. If these accounts are true, no trace of them remains.


Clyro (Welsh: Cleirwy), a village and a parish in Radnorshire. The village stands on a rivulet near the river Wye, 1 mile northwest of Hay. Clyro Court is the seat of the Baskervilles. A monastery was founded early in the parish, and there are trace remains of a castle in Clyro, but no known images exist.

A cadet branch of the Vaughans of Hergest, and through them the Vaughans of Bredwardine, Roger Vaughan, third son of Thomas ap Roger Vaughan of Hergest, married Jane, daughter of David ap Morgan ap John ap Phillip.

Their heir was Roger Vaughan who married Margaret, daughter of Rhys ap Gwilym ap Llewelyn ap Meyrick. He is supposed to have been the commissioner of tenths of spiritualities in Radnorshire in January 1535, and would thus have been involved in surveying the monastic houses and chapels which led to the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

Roger Vaughan had at least two sons, [1] Roger Vaughan, the heir, who married Margaret, daughter of Sir William Vaughan of Porthaml, and [2] Thomas Vaughan of Llowes, who married Sibyl daughter of Howell ap Thomas Goch. Thomas Vaughan, described then as being of Clyro, was pardoned for murder on 14th August 1536.

Thomas Cromwell

Roger and Thomas Vaughan came into conflict with Bishop Rowland Lee in 1538. The cause is unknown but it was serious enough for Thomas Cromwell to order them to be taken under escort to London and into his presence. At the time Thomas Cromwell was a senior minister for the Crown.

Roger Vaughan later achieved respectability and became sheriff of Radnorshire in 1576-7. After his death, his wife Margaret married as his second wife, Charles Vaughan of Hergest. Roger Vaughan and Margaret’s son, Roger Vaughan, inherited the Clyro estate. He married Margery, daughter of Richard Monington.

This Roger was on the Commission of the Peace in Radnorshire, Herefordshire and Brecknock, deputy lieutenant of Radnorshire, member of Parliament for Radnorshire 1572-83 and Sheriff of Brecknockshire in 1595-6. He was a very close friend of Sir Gelly Meyhck of Pembroke, who was an adjutant to the Earl of Essex.

Roger Vaughan’s son, John Vaughan who was Sheriff of Radnorshire in 1607, married the heiress of Richard Baynham of Aston Ingham Herefordshire and the family moved to live on her estates.

Robert Devereux

One day in 1598, Queen Elizabeth I refused a casual request of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex8, who was a dashing young courtier who often played cards with the Queen through the night. In anger, Devereux turned his back on her, an appalling breach of etiquette, at which she boxed his ears. He instinctively half drew his sword. Another courtier intervened, and Essex stalked off swearing that he would not have tolerated such an insult even from her father, Henry VIII.

Essex then plotted to seize the Queen and take control of the government. The coup d’état failed, and several of Essex’s co-conspirators were arrested and held in the Tower of London. Devereux, Earl of Essex, was beheaded at the Tower of London on February 25th, 1601.

Sir Gilly Meyrick

When Essex left for the city at the head of his armed coup d’état followers, he left the defense of Essex House in the hands of a Welsh supporter, Sir Gelli Meyrick (also Gelly or Gilly) (1556–13 March 1601). Sir Meyrick acted as gaoler (jailer) to the members of the privy council (Thomas Egerton, the Earl of Worcester, William Knollys and Lord Justice John Popham) who had arrived earlier in that day in order to inquire into Essex’s movements, Myrick locked them up in the house and then defended the house when it was attacked by the royal troops that afternoon, and only surrendered at Essex’s bidding.

Sir Meyrick was held in the Tower of London, but, unlike his fellow-prisoners, when examined by the council, disclosed little insight into the insurrection. Brought to trial on 5 March, along with Sir Charles Danvers, Sir Christopher Blount, Sir John Davis, and Sir Henry Cuffe, he declined to admit his guilt, but was convicted and sentenced to death. He declared himself willing to die, and explained that he merely acted under his master’s orders.

He was hanged at Tyburn on 13 March, together with Cuffe. In a short speech at the gallows he expressed the hope that the others might receive a pardon.

He was the eldest son of Rowland Meyrick, bishop of Bangor (Gwynedd), by Katherine, daughter of Owain Barret of Gelliswic. After his father’s death in 1565 he spent his youth with his mother on the family estate of Hascard in Pembrokeshire. At an early age he became a soldier and served in the Netherlands, receiving in 1583 the grant of a crest (Coat of Arms).

Meyrick married, about 1584, Margaret, daughter of Ieuan Lewys of Gladestry, Radnorshire, and widow of John Gwyn of Llanelwedd; she inherited the estates of both her father and first husband.

By her, Meyrick left a son, Roland, and a daughter, Margaret, wife of John Vaughan, 1st Earl of Carberry. Both children were subsequently restored in blood, and seem to have been granted all of their father’s confiscated estates and lands at Lucton and Eyton in Herefordshire. Lady Meyrick died in 1625.


In late 17th century Dyffryn Achddu was the residence of James Vaughan gentleman, son of Thomas Vaughan of Farthingshook, Pembrokeshire, a cadet of the ancient family of Pontfaen. In 1670 it was assessed for 5 hearths. In 1683 James Vaughan and his son James Vaughan mortgaged the property in the sum of £90 to Thomas Vaughan of Vorlan Maenclochog, gentleman, and Margaret his wife. And the next year the same properties were second-mortgaged to John Evans of Trefenty. This caused problems as to the true ownership and the Vaughans settled at Gelligatty (also spelled Gelli Gatti).

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Medieval Tudor Style Manor with 5 chimneys

No images of Dyffryn Achddu have survived, but this example of a Tudor style house with five hearths (chimneys) demonstrates how the “Hearth Tax” was an attempt to levy a tax on homeowners based on wealth. A house with four chimneys, for example, would pay four times that of a home with a single hearth.

It was considered easier to establish the number of hearths than the number of heads, hearths forming a more stationary subject for taxation than people. The first payment of the tax was due on 29 September 1662. One shilling was liable to be paid for every fireplace hearth or stove, in all dwellings, houses, edifices or lodgings, and was payable upon 29 September and 25 March. The tax thus amounted to two shillings per hearth or stove per year.

The Tale of Poor Old Ernald Vaughan

Adapted by Larry E Vaughn

There once lived a mean old man by the name of Bertram Ernald Vaughan, who was hated and despised by all the villagers throughout all of North Wales. He was an ungodly man, whom villagers said did many evil things too horrible to mention here, but the village was strangely void of children. In fact, the last children anyone in the village could remember was before old Ernald Vaughan moved to town.

He lived in a dark and shadowy house in Dolagag Gawr, in Pembrokeshire, in the southwest of Wales. The villagers said he had not one good bone in his body, and was “irredeemably lost.” When he died, there were no friends or family to take care of his burial arrangements. The villagers went to the Mayor to demand that he do something to get the evil man’s funeral done. They wanted him to be buried face down in a very deep grave, and a large, heavy stone placed on top.

The Mayor asked for six volunteers to carry Vaughan’s coffin from his dark and shadowy old house to his grave. No one would volunteer. The Mayor begged and pleaded, but no one would help. The Mayor finally decided to ask the king to send a troop of his knights to safeguard the body and carry it to the grave after the funeral, which the king agreed to do. He, too, wanted the evil man gone and buried, never to bother anyone in his kingdom again.

The Mayor also sent for the Sin-eater of the kingdom to make sure the sins of the evil old man were completely destroyed. Upon his arrival, the sin-eater cautiously entered the dark and shadowy old house. He lit several candles all around the room, and then placed a saucer of coarse salt on the chest of the dead Ernald Vaughan, who had a terrible scowl on his face, even in death!

The sin-eater placed a thick slice of brown bread on the salt. At this time, nine knights arrived, and entered the house, taking up posts all around the room. They stood quietly as the sin-eater whispered a chant over the bread, which began to take on a strange glow as it absorbed the evil old man’s sins.

The sin-eater finally lifted the bread from the saucer, put it in a metal box, poured the saucer of salt on top, and then sealed the box with wax from one of the lit candles. This done, he carefully put the box in a colorful leather case with two locks, where it would stay until he could take it to the church to get it blessed, to destroy the evil sins forever.

The knights gathered chairs and took up posts all around the coffin, to begin the “night of waiting.” It was the custom in those days for the burial to take place in the morning, so the knights were going to be there overnight. They closed the lid on the coffin and made themselves as comfortable as you can be in a suit of armour. Some played cards, while others told stories of their quests and adventures across the land.

As these things went on, it suddenly got so very cold they could see their breath, and it seemed like everything went into slow motion. They heard the rumble of horses’ hooves slamming against the earth, as if a large group of horsemen approached at a full gallop. The horses stopped outside, and heavy footsteps crossed the porch and into the house through the closed door, and into the very room where the stunned knights were. Some, half drew their swords, but nothing could be seen where the noise was coming from!

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The invisible intruders, as they crossed to the end of the room where the dead man lay, put out all the candles. There was a brief silence, followed by the sound of footsteps moving toward the door, leaving the room. As the ominous sounds of invisible people moving through the room, some knights said they even felt people brushing against them. As the footsteps went through the door and onto the front porch, the candles relighted, one-by-one. but no one could see how they were being lit. A moment later, the sound of heavy horse hooves was heard galloping away from the house and into the distance.

Two of the knights rushed outside, swords drawn, to see what was happening, but, just as they opened the front door, the sounds just stopped, and there was nothing to be seen. The knights excitedly asked each other what happened, but everyone agreed at everything they had heard and not seen. It was no fluke! They had all heard, seen, and felt the same thing! This was going to have to be reported to the king!

They searched around the end of the room where the coffin was, but when they found nothing unusual, they opened the coffin and discovered, to their great alarm, the body of old Ernald Vaughan was gone! There was nothing but an empty coffin with a very small pile of sulfur, which smelled like rotten eggs! The corpse of old Ernald Vaughan was never found!

The knights, and the people of the village, when they heard of the strange encounter, believed that the body was taken by invisible troops of the Devil, or evil spirits, as the ungodly old man had lived such an evil life. The villagers filled the coffin with stones and buried it in the corner of the cemetery farthest from the village. They then burned the old man’s dark and shadowy house to the ground, just to make sure those invisible troops of the devil didn’t return to their village to get anything the evil old man might have left behind.


Numerous early castles were established in Uwch-Cych, Gelldywyll, none of which has any recorded history, and very few validated paintings or etchings that have been discovered. The land was granted to Maredudd ap Rhys by the crown, and remained until finally annexed by the English crown in 1283.

Granted to royal favourite Sir Rhys ap Thomas in the 15th century, Gelli Gatti, was by the late 15th century, in the possession of the Lloyd family. The Lewes family acquired it in 1589. Thus it appears to have eventually passed by marriage to the Vaughans’ Golden Grove Estate. Moreover Gellydywyll, traditionally, has a long history that is part of Welsh legend, reputedly having been the home of an early chieftain whose horse was said to have been shod with golden shoes.

It was laid out as a gentry estate, around the house at Gellydywyll, during the 18th century and a map of ‘Gelli Dowill Demesne’ drawn in 1768, when it was owned by James Lewes, shows a well laid out estate with woodland, parkland and shelter belts. Gellydywyll itself passed to the Golden Grove Estate, through purchase, in the late 1800s.

James Vaughan, sixth son of Thomas Vaughan of Farthingsbrook, Pembrokeshire, is described as “of Gelli Gatti” in September 1668. He was still living there in 1680. During the next century the estate became part of the Golden Grove estate and is included in the estate books for 1782-87. No known images of the building have been located.

Example of a Welsh Gentry Estate



The earliest known owners of Llether Cadfan was the family of Vaughan descended from Elystan Glodrudd. Thomas ap Thomas Fychan of Llether Cadfan was the father of Gwilym ap Thomas, Esq., of the Body to King Henry VIII. He married Gwenllian daughter of Llewelyn ap Gwilym of nearby Bryn Hafod.

Their son David Vaughan succeeded, and it was his son, Thomas Vaughan, who was in possession in 1597. Thomas was the last of the male line and died leaving three daughters as co-heiresses. Thomas David Rhys of Blaenant married Sibyl, fourth daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Vaughan of Llether Cadfan, (alive in 1597). Husband and wife were both living in 1613. No death or burial records have been recorded.

The “uchelwyr” were the landed gentry of old Wales: descendants of princes, proud of their noble birth, but aware that times were changing. Through the centuries the uchelwyr of Edwinsford married into other famous Welsh houses, such as, the Morgans of Tredegar, the Vaughans of Golden Grove and the Philipps clan of Cilsant.

Dafydd ap Llywelyn of Edwinsford who married Angharad, daughter and heiress of Sir Morgan Maredudd, Knight, Lord of Tredegar. Again, Rhys ap William married Gwenillian daughter of Hywel ap Morgan Fychan (Vaughan).

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Cadfan Chapel Manor House and Grounds

At a later period, David ap Rhys ap William, Esquire, of Rhydodin married Jane daughter of David Phillips of Cilsant. In 1600.Their son, Rhys Williams, enlarged his estates by marriage to Jane, daughter and co-heiress, of Thomas Fychan (Vaughan) of Llether Cadfan in the parish of Llangathen.

Llether Cadfan had been an important house in medieval times, and was owned by the Vaughans, who were as influential here as in other parts of Carmarthenshire. Located half a mile north of the crossroads in Broad Oak, it is a large cross-passage house, consisting of a largely unused 16th century part with a stone staircase, and a 17th century part with wooden transomed and mullioned windows.

It once had an ornate plaster ceiling. There is a two-story porch at the main entrance. The interior doors, six fireplaces, and paneling were long ago removed to Edwinsford and fitted into that house. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most interesting traditional residences in the county.

The north chapel in Llangathen Church is known as the Cadfan Chapel, and was at one time the freehold of the family. Cadfan and its environs had also other claims to fame, for this was the reputed site of a memorable contest in Welsh history; the battle of Coed Llathen.

It was here in Whitsun week, 1257, that the Welsh fought against the troops of King Henry III, who were led by Stephen Bauzan one of the King’s most experienced commanders. But the English were completely routed and Bauzan himself was killed. Tradition says that the names of the fields in the neighbourhood recall the disastrous defeat of the English.

Thus we have cae dial (field of vengeance), cae yr ochain (field of groaning), cae tranc (field of death), llain dwng (field of oaths), congl y waedd (corner of shouting) and they strongly suggest a disaster of some magnitude which has long survived in popular memory. Again, Nant Steffanau, the brook that drains the valley from Broad Oak to Pentrefelin, may well remind us of the terrible retribution which overtook Stephen Bauzan.


This Vaughan family is a branch of what became the Herbert family. At the end of 1300s Thomas ap Gwillim had four sons; the eldest formed the Herbert family and the youngest formed the Vaughan family.

Courtfield, originally known as Greenfield, is located in Welsh Bicknor (Welsh: Llangystennin Garth Brenni), an area of Herefordshire, England. Despite its name, it is not now in Wales, but it was historically a detached parish (exclave) of the county of Monmouthshire.

The site for Courtfield was chosen because of its extraordinary, isolated, rural location at the far end of a peninsula on the river Wye. Breathtakingly beautiful, but only approachable by a steep, perilous, single lane road at that time, which was difficult to traverse under the best of circumstances, and offered excellent protection against attack by opposing forces.

On 9th of August 1387 Henry V was born in Monmouth Castle and taken to Courtfield for safe keeping following the death of his mother, Mary de Bohun (circa 1368– 4 June 1394), the first wife of King Henry IV of England and the mother of King Henry V. Mary was never queen, as she died before her husband came to the throne. At the time of Henry V’s arrival, Courtfield belonged to Lady Mary Montague, daughter-in-law of the Earl of Salisbury. She was a cousin of the Royal Infant, both of them being descended from Edward I.


The name of the estate was altered from Greenfield to Courtfield after King Henry V of England had lived there as a young child, under the care of Lady Margaret Montacute, wife of Sir John Montacute, 3rd Earl of Salisbury. It is thought that he stayed there until he was about seven or eight years of age.

An ancient replica of the King’s cradle is said to now be in the museum at Kensington Palace. An effigy of Lady Margaret Montacute can be seen in Welsh Bicknor church, and her plain tomb is beside the altar in Goodrich church.

The Courtfield manor house, and surrounding land in the Welsh Bicknor area remained the ancestral home of the Vaughan family for over five hundred years. In 1562 the Courtfield estate, which at that time was about 30,000 acres, was bought for £800 by John Gwilym of Killwch Vach. Then, in 1563, James Vaughan of Llangattock married Sybylla, John Gwilym’s daughter and heiress. Thus, Courtfield came back into the Vaughan family.

In 1570, William Vaughan, a second son, married Jane Clarke, heiress of Clifford Park and William became known as “of Courtfield and Clifford Park.” William died in 1601, but Jane appears in the Recusant Rolls to 1619.

Courtfield was inherited by William and Jane’s son, John who was born in 1575, and who is described in state papers as a Royalist and Popish recusant. As such he was liable to confiscation of two-thirds of his property and a monthly fine of £20. (Recusant meant to remain loyal to the Roman Catholic Church, and not attend protestant Church of England services).

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Antique pencil drawing on paper of Courtfield, Welsh Bicknor in Herefordshire from a collection of drawings by Charles Greenwood and Frederick Peake produced between 1840-1850. This one, drawn and signed Fred Peake, inscribed ‘Courtfield, William M. J. F. Vaughan, Esq’. A elevated distant view of Courtfield with the river wye and boats in the foreground.’ Courtfield is in the distance at middle left. The drawing shows how well protected from unexpected visits Greenfield, later Courtfield, was situated.

John’s first wife was Anne Lingen of Sutton Court, Hereford, another Catholic family. They had been Sheriffs and MPs since Edward IV‟s reign. There is a story told of one of her earlier family members, Constantia, who was married to Grimbald Lingen.

Grimbald was captured by the Moors in Tunis during the Crusades. The Turks sent a message that he could only be freed in exchange for a “joint of his wife.‟ She had her hand amputated and preserved in salt and wine and shipped abroad to secure her husband’s release. The couple were buried together on Much Cowarne church where their effigies were visited by pilgrims until about 150 years ago when the church was destroyed by fire.

John was succeeded by his son Richard who lived from 1600-1697, and was known as the grand old man of Courtfield. However, in 1651 Richard Vaughan, who was a Catholic, had his land sequestered, as a penalty for not adopting the protestant religion.

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                                  Courtfield Entrance

Persecution by the Crown

Richard had many trials and tribulations because of his adherence to the Catholic faith, with confiscation of lands, goods and livestock. In 1651 the Commissioners for Sequestration leased to Philip Nicholas of Llansoy for £38.8s the Manor of Welsh Bicknor and the mansion of Courtfield, being the lands of Richard Vaughan, a Papist and Delinquent. In 1654, Rudall Gwillim of Whitchurch sold to Charles Herbert of English Newton, all goods, cattle and stock at Courtfield. All that was left to Richard was a nominal possession of the residence.

For two centuries, the family suffered persecution and fines for steadfast adherence to the Catholic faith and various ruses were used to avoid confiscation of their land. The usual one was to give it to a trusted Protestant neighbor who would hopefully give it back when times got better. However some families found this did not happen.

Because of its remote location of Courtfield, at the far end of a peninsula on the river Wye near Monmouthshire, and in close proximity to Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, it was a favorite hiding ground for priests during this period. The Bishops jealously guarded their territory and the priest hunters found it difficult to chase a priest over the diocesan boundary.

Courtfield Estate History

In 1562 the Courtfield estate, which at that time was about 30,000 acres, was bought for £800 by John Gwilym of Killwch Vach. Then in 1563 James Vaughan of Llangattock married Sibyl, his daughter and heiress. Thus, Courtfield came into the Vaughan family.

In 1570 William Vaughan, a second son, married Jane Clarke, heiress of Clifford Park and William became known as “of Courtfield and Clifford Park.” William died in 1601.  Jane continued in the Recusant Rolls of 1592 to 1619

Courtfield was inherited by William and Jane’s son, John who was born in 1575 and who is described in state papers as a Royalist and Popish recusant. As such he was liable to confiscation of two-thirds of his property and a monthly fine of £20.

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 Richard’s first son, John, married a Mary Vaughan of Ruardean and Over Ross in 1659. She was from a different Vaughan family, being descended from the twelfth-century chieftain, Moreiddig Warwin.

    John and Mary bought Huntsham Court at about that same time. It had  5 large reception parlours with ornate columns and vaulted ceilings, 27 bedrooms in the main house, 3 in the Gatehouse, and 5 in the Garden Wing overlooking a 5 acre private garden surrounded by rolling countryside.

   John, the younger half brother, inherited from his older brother and produced two sons, Richard and William. They were ardent supporters of the Stuarts and tried to get Prince Charles to make his stand on the Welsh borders. They fought in the Duke of Perthshire’s division at Culloden 1745 and were given the Prince’s pistols after the battle. They left these with their sister, who was married to a Weld of Lulworth, for safe keeping. Then then had to escape from the country, and went to Spain.

One brother became a General and the other a Field Marshall in the Spanish army. They were banished and then in 1747, along with seven others, were expressly excluded from the general pardon, meaning that they could never come back to England.

Richard married Dona Francisca Magueire (Fords of Munster) who were one of the “Wild Geese” families from Ireland. Their son, William, was eventually pardoned and able to return to England.

William succeeded from his Uncle John, who had not taken part in the Jacobite rebellion, and had stayed at Courtfield. John had married Catherine, daughter of James Cornwall of Buckland, Hereford.

In 1764-5 John had secured a contract to supply 6,000 tons of stone to build Bristol Bridge. The stone was quarried at Courtfield, shipped down the Wye, across the Severn, and up the Avon to Bristol. The bridge was completed in 1768 at a cost of £5,000 and was rather attractively constructed. However, in about 1790, the city fathers decided to put a toll on the bridge, and the good citizens of Bristol rioted and trashed the bridge, and threw all the fine balustrades into the river.

William married Frances Turner and had his estates restored. He lived quite a lot of the time in Cornwall House in Monmouth, presumably inherited from his aunt. In those days the local families also had townhouses in Monmouth. The Dukes of Beauforts would use their Troy House when the water ran out in the summer at Badminton. So, no doubt a jolly summer season was had, with the army in the castle, and the Lords and Ladies in the town.

In his book “Catholic Families,” Mark Bence-Jones, makes the point that a remarkable number of English Catholic families still inhabit their ancestral homes. This is because they could not go to Court, so, they were prevented from getting into the social activities at the Castle and gambling their estates away. They were forced to live quiet lives. The money gradually accumulated, and many of them ended up as the richest families in the county.

William and Frances’ only son, William Michael, set about rebuilding Courtfield. He added a Georgian front to the house and made a new road up Coppet Hill to get to it. William married Theresa Weld of Lulworth, another Catholic family, and they had five sons. One died very young, and three went into the church.  The second son, another William, become the Bishop of Plymouth, and the first of the five Vaughan Bishops. William Michael’s two daughters both became nuns.

Louisa Eliza Rolls Vaughan

Eliza came from the prominent Rolls-Royce family in Great Britain.  She married Colonel John Francis Vaughan in the summer of 1830 and despite the resistance of her relatives, converted to the Catholic faith.  Eliza, who converted with all her heart, proposed to her husband that they give their children to God.

Throughout her life, she made it a habit to pray for an hour each day before the Blessed Sacrament in the house chapel at Courtfield.  There she prayed to God for a large family and for many spiritual vocations among her children. Her prayers were answered!

She gave life to 14 children and died of complications shortly after the birth of her last child in 1853. Of the 13 children that lived, six of her eight boys became priests: two priests in religious orders, one diocesan priest, one bishop, one archbishop and one cardinal.  And, from the five daughters, four became sisters in religious orders.

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Louisa Elizabeth “Eliza” Rolls Vaughan

  • Birth: 8 Oct 1810 London, England
  • Death: 24 Jan 1853 (aged 42),
  • Burial: Courtfield House Chapel yard

The Vaughan children all attributed their vocations to their mother who made their childhoods joyful. She understood so well how to unite, in a very natural way, the spiritual life and religious obligations with amusement and cheerfulness.  Thanks to their mother, prayer and daily Mass in the house chapel were just as much a part of everyday life as music, athletics, amateur theater, riding and playing.

It was never boring for the children when their mother told them stories from the saints, who little by little became trusted friends.  Mrs. Vaughan happily let her children accompany her on visits to the sick and needy of the area. On such occasions, they learned how to be generous, make sacrifices and to give away their savings or their toys.

Shortly after the birth of her 14th child, John, Eliza died.  Two months after her death, Colonel Vaughan wrote in a letter that he was convinced divine providence brought Eliza to him.  “I thanked the Lord in adoration today that I could give back to Him my dearly beloved wife. I poured out my heart to Him, full of thankfulness that, as an example and a guide,

He gave me Eliza with whom I am still now bound by an inseparable, spiritual bond.  What wonderful consolation and what grace she brought me! I still see her as I always saw her before the Blessed Sacrament: her inner purity and such human kindness which reflected from her beautiful face during prayer.”

Service to the Church

The many church-centric vocations of the Vaughan family leave behind a unique legacy in British history and a blessing which came especially through Eliza.  When Herbert, the oldest son, shared with his parents at age 16 that he wanted to become a priest, their reactions were very different.

His mother, who had prayed for it, only smiled and said, “Child, I have known it for a long time.” Colonel John, however, needed a little time to come to terms with the decision, since he felt Herbert would have had a brilliant military career.  Little did he know that Herbert would one day be the Bishop of Westminster, founder of the Mill Hill Missionaries and Cardinal.

Reginald and Francis Baynham married. Nine other children answered God’s call. Roger, the second oldest, became a Benedictine Prior and later the beloved Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, where he had the Cathedral built.  Kenelm was a Cistercian and later a diocesan priest; Joseph, the fourth son, was also, like his brother, a Benedictine Prior and founder of a new abbey.

Bernhard, the most lively of them all, who loved dancing and sports and went along with anything fun, became a Jesuit.  It is said that the day before he entered the order, he went to a ball where he said to his dance partner, “This dance that I dance with you is my last, because I am becoming a Jesuit.”  

Shocked, the girl replied, “Oh please, you want to become a Jesuit? You who love the world so much and are such an excellent dancer?” His ambiguous, but beautiful answer was, “Therefore I am consecrating myself to God.”  John, the youngest, was ordained a priest by his oldest brother, Herbert, and later became the Bishop of Salford, England.

Four of the five daughters in the family entered convents.  Gladis entered the Visitation Order, Teresa became one of the Sisters of Mecy, Claire became a Poor Clare, and Mary  was a Prior of the Augustinians.

Margaret, the fifth Vaughan daughter, wanted to be a religious sister, but her ill health prevented it.  She lived at home, also consecrated to God, and lived her final years in a convent. (Adapted from “Mother Eliza Vaughan”. Triumph of the Heart.  31 (2005): 12-14)

Vaughan Legacy

Charles Jerome married Christine Lister-Kaye, a grand-daughter of the Duke of Newcastle. He was papal Chamberlain to Popes Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI and Gold Stick in waiting at three Coronations; those of Edward VII, George V and George VI. He was mentioned in dispatches three times and awarded an OBE.

He was given the Order of St Maurice and St Lazarus for his work in the 1914-18 war by the King of Italy, of which he was particularly proud. In 1938 he was made Lt-Colonel of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers, as his father and grandfather had been. He was High Sheriff for Herefordshire in 1933 and a Deputy Lieutenant for Monmouthshire and a Justice of the Peace for Monmouthshire and Herefordshire.

Charles and Christine had two children; Henrietta (Rita) who died, aged ten, of the flu epidemic and Joseph Herbert, who had four sons. (Adapted from “Mother Eliza Vaughan”. Triumph of the Heart and other online resources )

Of the two sons not in the Church, Francis Baynum Vaughan (1844-1919) would inherit Courtfield, so Colonel Vaughan built Glentrothy House on land he had purchased in 1848 in Llanvetherine, Monmouthshire for Reginald. Reginald had a large financial loss of £10,000 in 1884 (£1.2 million at modern prices) and this may have been the catalyst for the sale of Glentrothy but the Vaughan family continued to live there and run the estate. The last Vaughan at the estate was Reginald’s grand-daughter, Mary Teresa Joan Rhodes (1912-93). The estate then reverted to the Herbert family.

Obituary Detail for Mrs. Reginald Vaughan

Some insight into the family can be gleaned from the following obituary published in Australia, taken from the London Tablet.

“Vaughan, Judith Aloysia (1853–1894)

From the London Tablet, September 1, we take (copy) the following: —

We regret to have to record the death of Judith, wife of Reginald Vaughan, of Glen Trothy, who passed away to her eternal home on Saturday, after six weeks of suffering, borne with great patience and Christian fortitude. The funeral service took place on Tuesday in the beautiful little chapel attached to the family house of Glen Trothy. Cardinal Vaughan was prevented from coming; and, in the absence of Bishop Hedley, who regretted not being able to take a share in the grief and prayers of the family, the Rev. Kenelm Vaughan, assisted by the Rev. Father Moore, of Monmouth, and the two sons of Mr. Godfrey Radcliffe, sang the Requiem Mass and gave the Absolution. The choir was conducted by the Rev. John S. Vaughan and the Rev. Father Mottay, the chaplain of the family.

After the Requiem service was over the remains of the departed were carried in procession along the road, which winds up and down by the side of the Trothy brook, to the little Catholic cemetery of Dan-y-Creig. The cross, borne by Mr. Godfrey Radcliffe, a near neighbour and a devoted friend of the family, headed the procession. Then followed the acolytes bearing torches, Father John Vaughan, his assistants, and the choir, who chanted the suffrages for the dead as they went along. Then came the remains of the departed one, borne on the shoulders of the tenant farmers and the labourers on the estate. Closely following walked the chief mourners, Mr. Reginald Vaughan and his motherless children, Roger, Ellen, John, Mary, Julia, Reginald, William, Kenelm, and Gwladys, all carrying in their hands garlands of summer flowers.

The air of peace and even of happy resignation that lit up their innocent little faces— the effect of their religious training was the astonishment and edifiation of every one. Then came Colonel Vaughan, Courtfield, and his three sons, Charles, Herbert, and Francis, the friends of the family, and the neighbours from around. Mrs. Radcliffe and companions followed in a coach. And last of all came a carriage bearing tokens of love and sympathy in the form of many beautiful wreaths and floral crosses from Courtfield, Llanarth Court, the Greig, the Woodlands, Bany Greig, and other country houses in the neighbourhood.

The funeral service was conducted by the Rev. John Vaughan, who, standing at the edge of the open grave, made a touching address to the assembled throng, of which the following is a short extract:

Before us lies all that is mortal of Judith Vaughan, of Glen Trothy, near Abergavenny. For well nigh twenty years she has been the life and central figure of a happy and peaceful home. Her life was one of singular simplicity, of genuine but unostentatious piety. She sought holiness where the Catholic Church ever teaches us to look for it — not in extraordinary actions, or unusual practices of devotion, but in the faithful and persevering discharge of the ordinary and daily duties of her state of life; the bringing up and the educating of her children, and the careful attendance to her household duties. She proved herself to be a devoted wife, and a gentle, tender, and loving mother. And as years glided on and God permitted disease to come upon her, and to rob her of her strength and power of action, she bowed her head to the divine will, and bore all with exemplary patience and true Christian fortitude. She died fortified by all the last rites of the Church, and the Papal Blessing conferring a plenary indulgence at the hour of death. A priest was in constant attendance upon her, and a nursing sister prayed by her side.

The discourse being concluded, public prayers were offered up for the dead; and the members of the family, including even the little children, having sprinkled the grave of their loving mother with holy water, cast their garlands upon it as the last tribute of their love and devotion. R.I.P.

Some Personal Particulars

As the (London) Tablet very curiously, and in marked contrast to its usual practice, gives no personal particulars of the deceased lady, we supply the omission. The deceased was the youngest daughter of the late Martin Shanahan, Narroon, Victoria, one of the Irish Catholic pioneer squatters in the Wimmera district. Mr. Shanahan took up station property when that part of Victoria was opened up to pastoral enterprise. He was very successful with his station, and out of his wealth was able to make handsome provision for the members of his family. The late Lady Jennings, who died in Sydney on March 1, 1889, in her 42nd year, was Mr. Shanahan’s eldest daughter.

Mr. Reginald Vaughan came out to Australia shortly after the appointment of his brother, the late Most Rev. Roger Bede Vaughan, as Coadjutor-Archbishop of Sydney, and was married to Mr. Shanahan’s second youngest daughter in this city. Mrs. Vaughan left almost immediately for England with her husband. The deceased lady, who had only reached her 40th year, was a native of Victoria.

Mrs. Vaughan did not at any time return to Australia, but she saw her eldest sister on each of the occasions Sir Patrick and Lady Jennings visited England. It is worthy of note that Father Vaughan, who preached the burial sermon reported in the Tablet, was for a considerable period attached to the diocese of Sydney. Mrs. Vaughan left 9 children, one of whom is named after the late Archbishop of Sydney.”(Original publication Freeman’s Journal (Sydney), 13 October 1894, p 16)

Herbert Alfred Vaughan

Cardinal Herbert Albert Vaughan.png
Cardinal Herbert Alfred Vaughan (1832–1903)

Herbert Alfred Vaughan (1832–1903), and his twelve brothers and sisters were born and raised at Courtfield. He became an English prelate of the Roman Catholic Church, served as Archbishop of Westminster from 1892 until his death in 1903, and was elevated to cardinal in 1893.

Early Life

Herbert Vaughan was born at Courtfield, Gloucester, the eldest son of Lieutenant-Colonel John Francis Vaughan, of an old recusant (Roman Catholic) family, the Vaughans of Courtfield, Herefordshire.

Mill Hill Missionaries

Herbert was the founder in 1866 of St Joseph’s Foreign Missionary College, known as Mill Hill Missionaries, based at Courtfield. He also founded the Catholic Truth Society. In 1871 Vaughan led a group of priests to the United States to form a mission society whose purpose was to minister to freedmen.

In 1893 the society reorganized to form the U.S. based St. Joseph Society of the Sacred Heart, known as the Josephite Fathers. Vaughan also founded St. Bede’s College, Manchester. As Archbishop of Westminster, he led the capital campaign and construction of Westminster Cathedral.

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Westminster Cathedral

It was Vaughan’s most cherished ambition to see an adequate Westminster Cathedral. He worked untiringly to secure subscriptions for a capital campaign, with the result that the foundation stone for the cathedral was laid in 1895. When Vaughan died in 1903 at the age of 71, the building was so far complete that a Requiem Mass was said there.

In the late 19th century, the Catholic Church’s hierarchy had only recently been restored in England and Wales, and the land, having previously been occupied by the second Tothill Fields Bridewell prison, was acquired in 1884. Construction started in 1895 under the third archbishop, Cardinal Herbert Vaughan, with John Francis Bentley as architect, and built in a style heavily influenced by Byzantine architecture.

The cathedral opened in 1903. One of the first public services in the cathedral was Cardinal Vaughan’s requiem; the cardinal died on 19 June 1903. For reasons of economy, the decoration of the interior had hardly been started and still much remained to be completed. Under the laws of the Catholic Church at the time, no place of worship could be consecrated unless free from debt and having its fabric completed. The consecration ceremony took place on 28 June 1910, although the interior was never finished.

Cardinal Vaughan’s body was first interred at the cemetery of St. Joseph’s College, the headquarters of the Mill Hill Missionaries in North London, but it was moved to the Cathedral and re-interred in the Chapel of St Thomas of Canterbury (the “Vaughan Chantry”) in 2005.

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Views of Winchester Cathedral

The Vaughan Chantry (Chapel of St Thomas of Canterbury)

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This is the memorial to the founder of Westminster Cathedral, Cardinal Herbert Albert Vaughan.

The small Chapel, dedicated to St Thomas, in the north transept and wholly enclosed by grilles of gilt bronze, is Cardinal’s Vaughan’s Chantry. Within its gates, the monument to Cardinal Vaughan bears the inscription: Pray for the soul of Herbert Vaughan Cardinal Priest of the Holy Roman Church, third Archbishop of Westminster and founder of this Cathedral, born 15 April 1832, died 19 June, 1903.

The memorial to Cardinal Vaughan was designed by J, A. Marshall and carved by Henry McCarthy, a sculptor who had worked for Bentley, the architect of the Cathedral, for many years. It is hewn from pure white Pentelic and the Cardinal faces the altar, his head resting on a pair of tasselled cushions. Clad in lace rochet and the characteristic skull-cap of prelates, the body is more slender than his imposing figure had been in life.


An attractive and commodious mansion standing near the parish church on a steep slope above the upper waters of the river Gwaun, which flows for some seven miles to reach the sea at Fishguard. Behind the mansion, the land rises to the northeast, to the hill tops of Mynydd Morfil and Mynydd Cilciffeth, and before it, across the river, the land rises to Mynydd Melyn in Llanychlwydog and Mynydd Dinas in the parish of that name.

The original  Pontfaen mansion stood here in early medieval days, and, with a few architectural changes, retained its status to the present day. The house is protected by a copse of well grown trees. Pontfaen had been the home of three successive families for many centuries.

 The first known proprietors descended from the Dyfed Princeling, Gwynfardd Dyfed. In the years 1350-1400 the owner was Rhys ap Robert ap Owen, said to have been the first of his line to settle at Pontfaen, and was followed by his son Gwilym Vychan who was there in the 1440s. His son Llewelyn, succeeded him and the estate passed to his only child, the heiress, Llenca. She married shortly before 1491, John Vaughan of Abergavenny, descended from the Breconshire chieftain, Moreiddig Warwyn.

Vaughn Dinnerware.png

Pontfaen dinnerware with Vaughan symbol, a boy with a snake coiled around his neck

John settled at his wife’s house, and was the first of the Vaughans there. In those days Pontfaen was a substantial building, and in 1670 contained five hearths. The Vaughan family owned the Pontfaen estate, Pembrokeshire, since at least 1501.

Six generations of Vaughans continued at Pontfaen which eventually passed to the ultimate heiress, Lettice Vaughan who married, in 1625, Francis Laugharne, younger brother of Major General Rowland Laugharne, who took a prominent part in the Civil War in West Wales. Ann Vaughan, grand-daughter and heir of the said John and Llenca, married her kinsman, John Laughame of St. Brides.


Golden Grove (in Welsh: “Gelli Aur”) presents superb views of the valley on the southern side of the Towy River opposite Aberglasney. John Vaughan of Kidwelly, moved to Gelli Aur in the16th century. His son Walter married twice, first into the Dynevor family and then to Letitia, daughter of Sir John Perrot of Laugharne.

Walter’s eldest son, John, (1572- 1634), was twice a Member of Parliament for Carmarthen Borough. He served under the Earl of Essex in Ireland, and subsequently was appointed to the household of Prince Charles. He was created Baron Mullingar in 1621 and Earl of Carbery in 1628.

His son, Richard, succeeded him as 2nd Earl of Carbery and became Lord President of the Marches of Wales and was created Baron Vaughan of Emlyn (a British rather than an Irish peerage). A royalist in the early years of the Civil War, he took no part in hostilities after 1644. Richard was dismissed as Viceroy of Wales by King Charles II in 1672 because of Vaughan’s physical mutilation of his tenants.

A refugee at Golden Grove during that war was Jeremy Taylor, whose religious writings include “Golden Grove; or a Manual of daily prayers and litanies.” At the time of his death, Richard Vaughan owned over 50,000 acres as well as land in Ireland.

The 3rd and last Earl of Carbery was Richard’s son John (1640-1713). Like his father and grandfather he was a Member of Parliament for Carmarthen Borough, but was also appointed Governor of Jamaica 1674-78, where his deputy was the notorious Sir Henry Morgan.

He returned to London and became President of the Royal Society 1686-89. He was described by Samuel Pepys as one of the lewdest fellows of the age. His only daughter married Lord Bolton, but died without issue, and the estate passed to a cousin, yet another John Vaughan (1693- 1765) who built the Tudor Gothic Vaughan Mansion.

Below: Margam Castle, a Welsh Tudor Gothic Country House

Margam Castle a Tudor Gothic House.png

John Vaughan built the new Golden Grove mansion alongside the original, in the style of the above Margam Castle, a Welsh Tudor Gothic Country House. Regrettably, no known illustrations of the Vaughan mansion have survived.

  His grandson, John Vaughan (1757-1804) died without issue, and left the estate to his friend John Campbell, Lord Cawdor. John Campbell’s son, John Frederick Campbell, second Baron Cawdor was created Earl of Cawdor in 1827. It was he who built the present Golden Grove mansion, replacing the Tudor mansion of the Vaughan family with a more modern structure, which was then rebuilt twenty years later by the Earl of Cawdor between 1827 and 1832, and finally replaced by the present mansion.

Resplendent on a hill in the middle of its utterly lovely estate, Golden Grove mansion was one of several grand houses once owned by the Scottish Earls of Cawdor. Golden Grove, which had originally been a Tudor manor house, was rebuilt from 1827-34 in a Scottish baronial style befitting its creator, the First Earl of Cawdor of the Scottish Campbell clan.

Newton House, also originally a Tudor manor house, was rebuilt a little after Golden Grove from 1856-1858 in the Venetian Gothic style fashionable with the Victorians at the time. The rebuilding of these two mansions gives a clear indication of the riches of the 19th century landed gentry, however, it gives none of the precipitous decline of their wealth in the 20th century. Society was in transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy, and most of the great landowners found themselves left behind in the rush.


At Bredwardine, a cadet branch of the Vaughans of Moccas Court, in Herefordshire held the property. The first recorded was Watkin Vaughan on 17th Dec 1584 when he wrote to Lord Burghley. His wife was Joan, daughter of Miles ap Harry of Newcourt, and niece to Blanch Parry, queen Elizabeth’s maid of honour.


Richard’s first son, John, married Mary Vaughan of Ruardean and Over Ross in 1659. She was from the main Vaughan branch descended from the twelfth-century chieftain, Moreiddig Warwin. They bought the 35-bedroom, Huntsham Court, which was built around 1630 and continues at the time of this writing as a party and wedding venue. It has 5 large reception parlours with ornate columns and vaulted ceilings, 27 bedrooms in the main house, 3 in the Gatehouse, and 5 in the Garden Wing overlooking a 5 acre private garden surrounded by rolling countryside.

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Huntsham Court Mansion

Religious dissension within the Catholic and Protestant Vaughan families continued for several generations after the Dissolution of the Monasteries; some adopting the faith of the new Church of England, while others held steadfast to the historical religion, Catholicism.

In 1715, a John Vaughan, presumably one of Richard’s descendants, refused the oath of allegiance to George I. He had estates in the several counties of Monmouthshire, Radnorshire, Herefordshire, and Gloucestershire. In 1719 he was fined for not attending Protestant services at the Church of England.

John, the younger half brother, inherited from his older brother and produced two sons, Richard and William. They were ardent supporters of the Stuarts and tried to get Prince Charles Edward Stuart to make his stand on the Welsh borders. They fought in the Duke of Perthshire’s division at Culloden in 1745 and were awarded the Prince’s pistols after the battle. They left these with their sister, who was married to a Weld of Lulworth, for safe keeping and followed the Prince into exile.

They fled to Spain where one brother became a General and the other a Field Marshall in the Spanish army. They were declared traitors by Briton, and their property seized. In 1747, along with seven others, were expressly excluded from the general pardon and could never come back to England. Both married Spanish Ladies, and some of their descendants became grandees of Spain.

Richard Vaughan died in Barcelona in 1795, but his son, William, eventually returned to Wales and obtained a restoration of the main portion of his estates, as heir to his uncle. Later, John Vaughan of Courtfield, elder brother of William took the oath of allegiance to King George III at Monmouth in 1778.


As we look back at our Vaughan/Vaughn ancestry, we see that our family’s roots extend back to the original Ancient Britons, who inhabited all of England to the banks of the Clyde, as discussed in the previous chapter The Saxons repeatedly forced the Britons westward into the mountains of what is now Wales, north to Cumberland and southern Scotland, and into Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

Large-scale and on-going invasions by various Germanic/Viking/Norsemen peoples over long periods of time suggests that much of what is now England was cleared of Ancient Britons, pushing them into what is now Scotland, Ireland and Wales,explaining why so much of the DNA of the later English people are inherited from Germanic and other nomadic ancestors.  

Our ancestors were among the first tribal leaders, later kings, and still later, in feudal times they were knights, barons, earls and dukes, mayors, parliamentarians, sheriffs, or served as pastors, priests, bishops, and even a cardinal. They were the few. Most were just common folk. They worked the fields or became merchants. Some became bakers, coopers, cobblers, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, lantern makers and other skilled craftsmen of the time. Many moved to the new colonies to seek their fortunes.

By the late 1800s, the colonies were growing and people in many parts of the world decided to immigrate to what became America. Fleeing crop failure, land and job shortages, rising taxes, and famine, many came to the colonies because it was viewed as the land of economic opportunity. We have looked at many Welsh branches of the family to discover where our roots originate.

Ancient Irish Vaughn family histories can be found in the irishsurnames.com archives. Variants of the spelling in Ireland include Vaughan and Vayghan. William Vachan is found in the year 1273, and Evan Vaughan in 1601. Both were from County Salop..In Ireland, the Vaughans are often aligned with the Mohan and Maughan Gaelic sects.

We, as descendants, owe much to the devoted researchers who have gathered this information, verified as well as possible at the time, and were thoughtful enough to document it well, and generous enough to share it with us. To them we give a hearty “Thanks!”

Chapter Three: Vaugh(a)ns of Colonial America


2 thoughts on “2

  1. The name vaughn simply means little or junior. The name Vaughan is different, but without DNA I doubt you are related. The family married within a close group.


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