VAUGHAN, Sir John (c.1575-1634), of Golden Grove, Llanfihangel Aberbythych, Carm.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. c.1575, 1st s. of Walter Vaughan by his 1st w. Mary, da. of Griffith Rice of Newton. educ. Jesus, Oxf. 1592, aged 17; I. Temple 1596. m. (1) Margaret, da. of Gelly Meyrick, 1s 1da.; (2) Jane, da. of Sir Thomas Palmer of Wengham, Kent, wid. of Sir William Meredith of Leeds, Kent, s.p. suc. fa. 1598. Kntd. 1599; cr. Baron Vaughan [I] 1621, Earl of Carbery [I] 1628.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Carmarthen 1598, mayor 1603; j.p. Carm. aft. 1601; commr. oyer and terminer, S. Wales 1601; sheriff, Carm. Nov. 1604-Feb. 1606; bailiff, Kidwelly 1608; comptroller, Prince of Wales’s household 1618; commr. on moneys levied for Ireland, Carm. 1627; member, council in the marches of Wales 1633.2


Vaughan was heir to an estate estimated in 1601 at £800 a year; in George Owen’s list of Carmarthenshire generosi a year or so later he stood second only to Sir Thomas Jones of Abermarlais, and by the end of his life Golden Grove had outstripped Abermarlais in the Carmarthenshire hierarchy, the primacy of the Vaughans remaining unchallenged through most of the seventeenth century. Within a year of succeeding his father, Vaughan accompanied Essex on his ill-omened Irish campaign, and was knighted by him. The tradition that the Queen ‘disallowed’ the honour, and that it was again conferred by Lord Deputy St. John in 1617, is contradicted by the consistent use of the title until it was superseded by the peerage; it is likely that the 1617 knight was the ‘Captain Vaughan’ who spent his life in Ireland, as soldier, planter, privy councillor and Parliament man, until long after the Carmarthenshire Member’s peerage and even after his death.3

In 1601 Vaughan accused a fellow-magistrate in Star Chamber of ‘unlawful affection’ for recusants and affrays at the great sessions and Llandeilo market, and complained of the increase of popery in the area. These sound like defensive tactics, for the treason of Essex and his Welsh steward, Meyrick, made the latter’s son-in-law vulnerable. In 1601-2 Vaughan was charged, in two other Star Chamber suits, with conspiring with Sir Thomas Jones to cheat a lunatic out of his lands, and with procuring the conveyance of a guest’s patrimony by plying him with drink. But in the latter year he quarrelled with Jones over the manors of Hirfryn, Perfedd and Llandovery. These manors, once held by Abermarlais, had been granted by Elizabeth to their ancient lords the Audleys, and Lord Audley had conveyed them to Sir John’s father; Sir John now accused Sir Thomas before the Exchequer court of interference with his manorial rights.4

More perilous accusations arose out of the Essex conspiracy. The fact that a few weeks before the revolt Vaughan’s wife had conveyed her father’s plate and chattels to her husband’s house naturally aroused suspicion. He was even named among those present at the fateful meeting at Essex House where plans were laid, but a more credible account represents him as having ‘turned back’ on the way. At all events, before the end of February 1601 he was discharged ‘without bonds, indictment, arraignment or fine’. He assured Cecil that the charges against him had been made in revenge for his severity towards recusants. Before autumn he was settled at Golden Grove, acknowledging Cecil’s ‘favours’ and commending to him one of his many brothers, and in October he was entrusted with the raising of horse in Carmarthenshire to meet the Spanish landing in Ireland. In the same month he was elected knight of the shire for Carmarthenshire, which would have entitled him to sit on the main business committee for that Parliament (3 Nov.) and on the monopolies committee (23 Nov.). In the seventeenth century he was to obtain central office, and an Irish peerage. He died 6 May 1634.5

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A.H.D.


  • 1. Trans. Cymmrod. Soc. 1963, pp. 105-12; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. iv), 128-9; HMC Hatfield, viii. 32, 104.
  • 2. W. R. Williams, Parl. Hist. Wales, 44; Hist. Carm. ed Lloyd, iii. 467; Star Chamber, ed. Edwards (Univ. Wales Bd. of Celtic Studies, Hist. and Law ser. i), 51; C181/5; Trans. Cymmrod. Soc. loc. cit.; APC, xxxvi. 333; xli. 114.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, viii, 82, 104; xi. 108; G. Owen, Desc. Wales, Desc. Pemb. ed. H. Owen, iii. 383; Hist. Carm. ii. 33; DWB, 995-6; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones 119; Somerville, Duchy, i. 643; CSP Ire. 1600-47, passim; CP.
  • 4. Star Chamber, ed. Edwards, 46, 51; Exchequer, ed. E. G. Jones, 128-9; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 363; Hist. Carm. i. 234.
  • 5. HMC Hatfield, xi. 82, 87, 107, 113, 126, 135, 160, 329; D’Ewes, 624, 649; CSP Dom. 1598-1601, p. 548; APC, xxxii. 282.