Select Vaughan Miscellany

Here are some Vaughan stories and accounts over the years:

Gryffyd Fychan

Gryffydd Fychan was the son of Gryffydd ap Ieuan ap Madoc ap Gwenys.   There is the persistent tradition that he was in the band of Welshmen who were said to have saved the life of King Henry V when he rushed to rescue his brother Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415.  The belief grew that he, like Dafydd Gam, Rhosier Fychan and others, was knighted on the field.  These knights are not recorded in Shaw's Knights of England.  If Gryffydd were of age, he could well have been at Agincourt; but it cannot be confirmed.

In a tournament in Wales in 1443, he pierced with his lance the heart of his master, Sir Christopher Talbot, the third son of the earl of Shrewsbury and the champion tilter of England.   As the death of a young knight was not regarded as an accident, he was outlawed and a reward of 500 marks was offered for his capture. He remained at large for four years.  Then Sir Henry Grey, the earl of Tancarville, managed to entice him into Powys castle and he was there peremptorily beheaded.  The Welsh poets were so incensed by this treachery that they wrote indignant elegies.

Hugh Vaughan's Duel

In May 1492 it is said that Hugh Vaughan, esquire of Kidwelly and gentleman usher to Henry VII, took part in a great tournament held by the king at Richmond in Surrey.  Vaughan fought a duel with the knight, Sir James Parker, concerning a disagreement over the arms to him and for which he had the king's permission to use.  

According to an account published in 1631, the unfortunate Sir James was accidentally killed in the first encounter, as described thus: 

"A combat was holden and done betwixt Sir James Parker, knight, and Hugh Vaughan, gentleman usher, upon controvery for the arms that garter given to the said Hugh Vaughan, but he was there allowed by the king to bear them; and Sir James Parker was slain at the first course.  The cause of his death was thought to be the lack of a false helmet, which, by the force of the cronacle, failed and so he was stricken into the mouth that his tongue was borne into the hinder part of his head and he died incontinently."  

Thomas Vaughan the Alchemist

Thomas Vaughan was the twin brother of the metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan, both being born in Brecon "at Newton in the parish of St. Briget's in the year 1621."  He took up medical studies, initially motivated by the lack of doctors in Wales.  Although he did not practice medicine, he sought to apply his chemical skills to preparing medicines in the manner recommended by Paraclesus.  He corresponded with Samuel Hartlib and established a reputation with his book Anthroposophia, a magico-mystical work.  It is possible that he was also the author of tracts published under the pseudonym Eugenius Philalethes.

Vaughan became involved with the plan of Dr. Robert Child to form a chemical club with a laboratory and library, the main aim being to translate and collect chemical works.  In the course of litigation with Edward Bolnest, Vaughan was accused of spending "most of his time in the study of Natural Philosophy and Chemical Physick."  He is reported as having confessed that he had "long sought and long missed ... the philosopher's stone."

The Monument to Walter Vaughan in Llanelli, 1683

The following was the commemorative inscription to Walter Vaughan in Llanelli on his death in 1683.

"Reader, who're thou art, have regard to the unsullied ashes of Walter Vaughan, ye son of John Vaughan of Llanelli esquire, descended from the honorable family of Golden Grove and born to a plentiful estate.

He had also acquired so many laudable virtues in his life that he deserves to be remembered after his death. Such was integrity, and so equal in the discharge of his duty in several offices of trust under the prince, so constant in his obedience to his parents, so impartial his kindness to his relations, so faithful his inclination to his friends, and so sweetly disposed his temper towards all sorts of men, that he died lamented by all. 

Anno Domini 1683.

This monument his most indulgent and mournful mother dedicated to his memory, which nor death nor time can extinguish."

Vaughan's Valley in Arkansas

The most fertile and beautiful landscape in Northwestern Arkansas is named from its pioneer settlers, Samuel and Daniel Vaughan.  Born in Virginia, their father, William Vaughan, removed to Warren County, Tennessee and thence to Wayne County, Missouri, where he was one of the first settlers, and subsequently to Crawford County, Arkansas, where he located on the Arkansas river near Short Mountain Creek.

Crossing the Boston mountains, Samuel and Daniel Vaughan settled near Evansville, Washington County before the Indian title to that section had been relinquished, and, being encroachers, their improvements were destroyed by the regular soldiers.

In 1826 they removed to Cane Hill, Washington County, where they were the first settlers and in 1828 migrated to what is now known as the Tuttle settlement on Richland.   In 1831 Samuel Vaughan removed to the valley and bought the improvements of one Friend, an Indian half-breed of migratory habits, then its only occupant.  Vaughan dealt largely in Government claims.  He died at the age of seventy seven.  Daniel Vaughan lived all his life on his first claim, a short distance west of Hindsville.

Reader Feedback - The Line from William and Fereby Vaughan

William and Fereby Vaughan migrated from Virginia to NW Arkansas in the 1820's.  One line from them ran from their son William Jr. to his daughter by his second wife Peggie who was named Jane or "Gencie."  Jane married John Bowlin in Hancock county, Tennessee and one of their sons was called Alfred.  

Interestingly the census listed Alfred as partially blind at the age of nine months.  Since I am one of the Bowlins that carry the DNA of an extra long eyelid (mine and my cousin's actually had to be cut) I am curious to find out if this is a Bowlin or a Vaughan DNA gene. 

None of the Bowlin women as far as I can tell had this gene, except possibly Alfred's sister Susan "who went blind at an early age."  There is research going on through Harvard at Boston Children's Hospital that has mapped out the very gene that has caused this eyelid problem. 

Thank you in advance 
Cissie Norris (

The Diary of Iris Vaughan

Iris Vaughan's diary, began when she was only seven, is as much autobiography as diary.  It also gives a charming, keenly observed and brilliantly amusing picture of colonial Africa as Victorianism made way for the twentieth century.

Iris, the eldest daughter of a magistrate at the time of the Anglo-Boer War who was transferred from town to town, writes about her family life in various small towns of the Eastern Cape.  This personal diary is a first hand account.  Thus we have Iris's impressions, as an English ten year old child, of Cradock, Maraisburg, Adelaide, Grahamstown, Cookhouse, Bedford, Pearston, and other small African dorps.

She writes that Cradock is a place where there are "nice trees by the furrows," while Maraisburg "has no trees or rivers.  Only sand and two hills and some milk bush becos it is a godforsaken Karroo.  That is what Pop calls it."

Iris writes about the parson in Maraisburg, Mr. Damp, who is a young but bald bachelor and is "very strange sometimes."  The school inspector, Dr. Room, "has a very long head and blue eyes with big glasses."

The Diary of Iris Vaughan has been a bestseller every time it has been printed.  It was originally released as a series of excerpts by the magazine, Outspan, and subsequently released in book form by the Central News Agency in 1958.

The editor of Outspan, Charles Barry, says in his foreword that, initially, he was suspicious that the text might not be genuine.  But after its publication, letters poured in from around southern Africa from people who had not seen Iris since childhood.  They substantiated the events that she described.     

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