Vaughans of The English Reformation


  • Thomas Cromwell
  • Hugh Despenser the younger
  • King Edward II Deposed
  • Roger Mortimer
  • Queen Isabella
  • King Edward III Coup d’état
  • Walter Seys and King Edward of Windsor
  • Walter Sais ap Roger Vychan of Llechry

Full Text at

The early part of the 14th century was a very turbulent time in the history of Britain. The influences and events of the day affected even the most distant parts of the country. Walter de Seys, founder of the one of the Vaughan families, that of the Welsh Marches, and Pembrokeshire, founded the family fortunes and played an influential part in the events of the time.

The English Reformation took place in 16th-century England Henry VIII, as head of the Church of England, broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church and seized all assets of the church in England, Wales and Ireland. Based on Henry VIII’s desire for an annulment of his marriage, the English Reformation was more of a political maneuver than a theological dispute. But, the Vaughans got caught up in the intrigue.

Thomas Cromwell

Thomas Cromwell front.png

Thomas Cromwell, Pretender to the British Throne

Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex KG PC (c. 1485 – 28 July 1540) was an English lawyer and statesman who served as chief minister to King Henry VIII of England from 1532 to 1540. Cromwell helped engineer an annulment of the king’s marriage to Queen Catherine of Aragon so that Henry could lawfully marry Anne Boleyn. Henry failed to obtain the Pope’s approval for the annulment in 1534, so Parliament endorsed the king’s claim to be Supreme Head of the Church of England, giving him the authority to annul his own marriage.

During Cromwell’s rise to power in the new church, he made many enemies, including the Vaughans, and his former ally Anne Boleyn. He later fell from power, after arranging the king’s marriage to German princess Anne of Cleves, but Henry found his new bride unattractive and it turned into a disaster for Cromwell, ending in an annulment six months later. Cromwell was executed for treason and heresy on Tower Hill on 28 July 1540. The king later expressed regret at the loss of his chief minister.

Hugh Despenser the younger

Sir Hugh the elder, had been made Earl of Winchester. He caused “the Queen to be hated and put on livery.” Queen Isabella seeing the warning signs, and believing that her position and possibly her life were threatened, agreed, when it was proposed by the papal nuncios, that she would undertake a peace mission, to reconcile her husband and her brother and obtain a settlement of the vexing question of who was the overall ruler of Gascony.

On 9 March 1325 she, with most of her household, sailed for France, where, as a mediator, she proved very effective. Part of the agreement she concluded was that Edward II should, in person, do homage to Charles IV (of France), for those lands held by Edward II in France.

The Despensers were against Edward traveling to France, rejoining the Queen, or in any way leaving their sphere of influence, and on 24 August, Edward II declared himself unfit to travel. He adopted the plan that Prince Edward should be invested with the duchy of Gascony and the county of Ponthieu and perform homage in place of his father. Accordingly the young prince sailed to France and did homage to the French king.

During the time they were in France, Edward II had his son and wife proclaimed as traitors both to him and his kingdom. Queen Isabella in turn vowed not to return to the court of Edward II as long as Hugh le Despenser the younger was there.

Supported by the count of Hainault, in return for the marriage of his daughter, Philippa, to the young Edward, the Queen, her son, the Earl of Kent, Roger de Mortuo Mari (Roger Mortimer), and the brother of the count of Hainault, with a small supporting force, invaded England, landing at Orwell in Suffolk on September 24 1326 and headed for London. Many of the Marcher lordships hated Edward II and supported Edward III.

Edward II was then in the west country, and the chronicle records that he and Sir Hugh the younger fled across the Severn from Bristol towards Morgannwy. Sir Hugh the elder, who commanded at Bristol, was forced by the burgesses to yield the town without resistance, was seized, “tried “sentenced to be “drawn for treason, hanged for robbery, beheaded for misdeeds against the Church.”

Sir Hugh the younger, with Simon Reding, a clerk, and king Edward II headed into Wales, trying to escape to Lundy Island, from where they might have been able to get a boat to Ireland, but storms in the Bristol Channel prevented this. Instead they were forced to head further west, with the hope of gaining support from some of Hugh le Despenser the younger’s estates.

On 16 November they were captured at Neath Abbey. The next day Simon Redding was drawn and hanged, and Hugh the younger was taken to Hereford, where on 24 November he was “tried” and sentenced to be “drawn for treason, hanged for robbery, and beheaded for misdeeds against the Church, carried out forthwith.”

It is interesting that he was taken to Hereford where Walter de Seys had influence. He had risen to national prominence as royal chamberlain and a favourite of Edward II of England, but a series of subsequent controversies eventually led to his being hanged, drawn and quartered.

Edward II Deposed

Edward II was taken to Kenilworth and was forced to abdicate in January 1327. His son was proclaimed King Edward III, at the age of fifteen. The deposed Edward II was removed from Kenilworth, in April 1327, to Berkeley Castle were at least two attempts were made to rescue him.

According to some accounts, he was murdered on 21 September 1327 by being pierced in the rectum with a white hot lance, it has been suggested, on the orders of Roger Mortimer. 14th century court historian Froissart wrote that Edward’s favorite, Hugh le Despenser the younger, “he was a sodomite.” According to Froissart, Despenser’s penis was severed and burned in his execution as a punishment for his sodomy and heresy.

On the death of Hugh Despenser the younger, control of the estates of Laurence de Hastings (who was still a minor) passed to Roger Mortimer.

Roger Mortimer

Edward III, as a fourteen year old minor, was under the influence of his mother Queen Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Mortimer had been imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1322 for having led the Marcher lords in a revolt against King Edward II in what became known as the Despenser War.

Mortimer later escaped to France, where he was joined by Edward’s queen consort Isabella, whom he took as his mistress. After he and Isabella led a successful invasion and rebellion, Edward II was subsequently deposed. Mortimer allegedly arranged his murder at Berkeley Castle.

For the next three years, Mortimer was de facto ruler of England before being himself overthrown by Edward’s eldest son, Edward III at the age of 18. In October 1330, with the encouragement and support of many of the nobility, Edward III took over the reins, of government.

His mother Queen Isabella and her lover, Mortimer, were arrested. Mortimer had been caught in the old king’s bedroom at night. Accused of illegally assuming royal power and other crimes, Mortimer was executed by being drawn and quartered, his body hung, and his heir dispossessed. Isabella was banished to Castle Rising.

Queen Isabella

Isabella of France (1295 – 22 August 1358), sometimes described as the She-Wolf of France, was Queen of England as the wife of Edward II, and regent of England from 1326 until 1330. She was the youngest surviving child and only surviving daughter of Philip IV of France and Joan I of Navarre. Queen Isabella was notable at the time for her beauty, diplomatic skills, and intelligence.

As the former mistress of the power hungry Roger Mortimer, Isabella had been instrumental in the horrific murder of her husband, Edward II, in 1327. It is a widely held misconception that her son imprisoned her at the castle in 1331. Nothing could be
further from the truth.

Not only did Isabella live in regal splendor here, but she was also free to move with her retinue between her various residences as befitted a lady of her social standing. She died at her castle in Hertford on August 23, 1358, and was buried in the monastery of the Greyfriars by Newgate in London.

Edward III Coup d’état

Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377) was King of England and Lord of Ireland from January 1327 until his death; he is noted for his military success and for restoring royal authority after the disastrous and unorthodox reign of his father, Edward II. Edward III transformed the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe. His long reign of 50 years was the second longest in medieval England (after that of his great-grandfather Henry III) and saw vital developments in legislation and government

Edward was crowned at age fourteen after his father was deposed by his mother, Isabella of France, and her lover Roger Mortimer. At age seventeen he led a successful coup d’état against Mortimer, the de facto ruler of the country, and began his personal reign.

Edward III was a temperamental man but capable of unusual clemency. He was in many ways a conventional king whose main interest was warfare.  After a successful campaign in Scotland he declared himself rightful heir to the French throne in 1337. This started what became known as the Hundred Years’ War.

Walter Seys and King Edward of Windsor

Walter Seys was a trusted official of Edward III (Edward of Windsor), and was involved with the responsibility of sorting out the estates of John Hastings, Earl of Pembroke (a minor), after the execution of Roger Mortimer, who had previously been trustee.

After the defeat of the Earl of Lancaster’s rebellion in 1322, Edward II, age 38, who was homosexual, became totally dominated by the Despensers, father and son. Sir Hugh, the younger, took advantage of his position to extend his lands into a territorial lordship covering most of South Wales. This was regarded as a threat by those holding land in the Marches. The estate of the Earl of Pembroke is one example.

Walter de Seys Service

Among those whose support in Wales was crucial to king Edward III was that of Walter de Seys. He held many important posts in Wales and was involved in the taking of inventories of the estates which had been held by Roger de Mortuo Mari (Roger Mortimer) after his death.

Roger Ifank (or, young Roger), lord of Canterseliff and Dechryd, married Jane, daughter and sole heir of Sir Ralph Baskerville of Dechryd, in Radnorshire, and her mother, daughter and coheir of Sir Miles Pitcher, of Ysketthrock, by whom he had issue, Walter Seyes, jokingly called Walter Sais (English Walter) because of his constant living in England, and daughter Jane, wife to Sir Baldwin Whiting.

Walter’s son, Roger Hen of Bredwaredine, Esquire, lord of Cantersciff, married Margarett, daughter to Walter Devereux. lord Ferrers of Charley, a famous and influential family who later became the Earls of Essex, by whom he had issue, Sir Roger Vaughan, of Tretower, and a daughter, Janet, wife, to Thomas Griffith ap Owen Gethin, and a daughter, name undiscovered, who married Thomas Lewis of Tfrwdgrech.

Walter de Seys also had a son called Roger Vychan whose mother was Matilda verch Ieuan ap Rees. He held lands in the lordship of Talgarth.

The Vaughan family had accumulated property at Llechryd and Cwn Du before their ancestor, Walter de Seys,5 fought against Robert the Bruce. This Vaughan family of Bredwardine, Herefordshire, was the main branch of the Vaughans who traced their descent, through Walter Seys, to Moreiddig Warwyn (to whom the origin of the family’s coat of arms, three boys’ heads with a snake entwined about their necks, was ascribed), and thence to Drymbenog ap, lord of Brycheiniog.

Walter Sais ap Roger Vychan of Llechry

  Son  Himself  Parents
Rosser “Hen” VaughanGwallter Sais ap RhosserRhosser fychanap Rhosser Fawr &Joyce f. John Walbyf

Walter Seys won fame and fortune fighting for Edward III. In the pedigree books, he is said to have married the heiress of Sir Walter Bredwardine, and to have taken up residence at Bredwardine, followed by his son, Rhosier ‘Hen,’ who married a daughter of Sir Walter Devereux, and his grandson, Roger Vaughan, who married Gwladys, daughter of Dafydd Gam.

Walter Seys’ children by Florence:

[1] Roger Hen of Bredwardine (d 1415) m Ann, da. of Sir Walter Devereaux[3]

  • [1] Sir Roger Vaughan (d 1415) m Gwladus f. Sir Dafydd Gam (d 1415)[3]
  • [2] Gwladus f. Roger Hen, m Jenkin ap Hywel ap Gwilwm[5]
  • [2] Angharad married Philip Walbyf

Walter Seys’ children by Mallt f. Ieuan ap Rhys

  • [1] Roger Fychan

Return to Chapter 1


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