Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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VAUGHAN family of Courtfield , Herefordshire .

This family, which has given so many of its sons and daughters to the service of the Roman Catholic Church , has its home at Courtfield , in Welsh Bicknor , now in Herefordshire , but formerly in Monmouthshire .

One of the Vaughan ancestors was WILLIAM AP JENKIN , alias Herbert , who was lord of Wern-ddu , Monmouthshire , in 1353 ; he was the ancestor also of the families of Proger of Wern-ddu , Jones (afterwards Herbert ) of Treowen and Llanarth , Powell of Perth-hir , Hughes of Cillwch , and Morgan of Arkstone . As the descent of the family is given in genealogical works, e.g. Burke 's Landed Gentry , mention of some members only is called for in this account.

In 1562 JOHN AP GWILYM of Gillow , Herefordshire , purchased the manor of Welsh Bicknor . His daughter and heiress, Sibylla , became the wife of JAMES VAUGHAN , a descendant of Howel ap Thomas , of Perth-hir , the manor of Welsh Bicknor thus coming into the possession of one of the senior members of the Herbert clan. WILLIAM VAUGHAN (d. 1601 ), son of James and Sibylla , m. Jane ( Joan ) , daughter and (eventual) heir of Richard Clarke , of Wellington , Herefordshire . Jane ( Joan ) Vaughan figures prominently in the Recusants' Rolls , 1592-1619 ; the names of the Vaughans figure also in the Rolls over a period of many years. JOHN VAUGHAN (d. 1639 ), son of William and Jane ( Joan ) , is often referred to as the first Vaughan of Courtfield . THOMAS VAUGHAN , younger brother of William Vaughan , became a Roman Catholic priest , being ordained abroad in 1627 by Dr. Gifford , archbishop of Rheims and primate of France . He was sent upon the English mission and d. c. 1650 at Cardiff , after enduring hard usage on board a ship.

JOHN VAUGHAN ( 1676? - 1754 ), third of Courtfield , besides succeeding to the manor of Welsh Bicknor , inherited the manors of Ruardean, Glos. , and Clyro, Rads. , as heir to his childless half-brothers, John Vaughan of Huntsham and Richard Vaughan of Courtfield . His second wife was a kinswoman in the paternal line — Elizabeth , daughter of Philip Jones of Llanarth . A 1718 parliamentary survey of lands of Papists valued his estates in four neighbouring counties at £996. Two of his sons, RICHARD VAUGHAN and WILLIAM VAUGHAN were actively associated with the Jacobites . Both joined the young Pretender (as also did their acquaintance David Thomas Morgan ), fought at Culloden , and fled to Spain after the final defeat of prince Charles 's forces; they were outlawed in 1745 and were expressly excluded from the general pardon proclaimed by George II in 1747 . William became a general in the Spanish army . Richard (d. at Barcelona in 1795 ) had some years previously m. a Spanish lady who had Irish blood in her. By her he had seven sons and three daughters; he also, like his brother, entered the service of the king of Spain . One of his sons, WILLIAM VAUGHAN ( 1738 - 1796 ), became heir, the fifth of Courtfield (his father having been outlawed), to his uncle JOHN VAUGHAN , the fourth of Courtfield , who d. without issue in 1780 . William was succeeded by his only son, WILLIAM MICHAEL THOMAS JOHN VAUGHAN , sixth of Courtfield . He was followed by his eldest son, JOHN FRANCIS VAUGHAN , 1808 - 1878 , the seventh of Courtfield ; he m. Eliza Louisa , daughter of John Rolls , the Hendre, Mon. Amongst the sons of the marriage were: HERBERT VAUGHAN ( Cardinal Vaughan ), archbishop of Westminster ; ROGER WILLIAM VAUGHAN , archbishop of Sydney ; KENELM VAUGHAN , priest , who travelled in Spain and North America ; JOSEPH VAUGHAN , O.S.B. , founder and prior of S. Benedict's monastery , Fort Augustus ; BERNARD VAUGHAN , who became a well-known Jesuit preacher (‘ Father Bernard Vaughan ’); and JOHN VAUGHAN , co-adjutor bishop of Salford . Four sisters became nuns.

CARDINAL VAUGHAN ( 1832 - 1903 ), eighth Vaughan of Courtfield , was succeeded by his brother, FRANCIS BAYNHAM VAUGHAN ( 1844 - 1919 ), ninth of Courtfield . He, in turn, was followed by his son CHARLES JEROME VAUGHAN ( 1873 - 1948 ), tenth of Courtfield ; he was ‘ Camerario Segreto di Cappa e Spada ’ to Pope Pius X . Two of Charles Vaughan 's brothers, HERBERT VAUGHAN and FRANCIS VAUGHAN , were priests and one sister was a nun Francis Vaughan (d. 1935 ) becoming bishop of Menevia in 1925 . The extensive and valuable Courtfield muniments were deposited in the National Library of Wales in 1949 . (See N.L.W. Annual Report , 1948-9 .)


  • J. Hobson Matthews , (a) The Vaughans of Courtfield a study in Welsh genealogy and some other subjects , London, 1912 (London, 1912 ), and (b) ‘Records relating to Catholicism in the South Wales Marches, 17th and 18th Centuries,’ in Catholic Record Society , ii, 1906 ;
  • Burke's Landed Gentry ( 1937 ed.);
  • J. G. Snead-Cox , The Life of Cardinal Vaughan , London, 1910 ;
  • N.L.W. Courtfield Muniments.


Sir William Llewelyn Davies, M.A., LL.D., F.S.A. (1887-1952), Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959