VAUGHAN, Sir Charles (1584-1631), of Falstone House, Bishopstone, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. 1584,1 1st s. of Sir Walter Vaughan* (d.1639) of Falstone, Wilts., Dunraven, Glam. and Pembrey Court, Carm., and his 1st w. Anne, da. and h. of Richard Hannam of Wimborne Minster, Dorset.2 educ. Queen’s, Oxf. 1599, aged 15, BA 1601; M. Temple 1602.3 m. (1) 20 Apr. 1605, Frances (d.1614), da. and co-h. of Sir Robert Knollys I* of Porthaml, Brec., s.p.;4 (2) by 1623 Dorothy (d. by 11 Feb. 1650) da. of Sir Robert Meller* of Little Bredy, Dorset, s.p.5 kntd. 7 Nov. 1608.6 d. 16 Feb. 1631.7 sig. Cha[rles] Vaughan.

Offices Held

J.p. Brec. 1613-d.;8 commr. Forced Loan, Brec. 1626-7.9


This Member has universally been confused with Charles Vaughan of Tretower, Breconshire. The parliamentary record and election indentures clearly identify the Breconshire Member of 1614 and 1625 as a knight, whereas Charles Vaughan of Tretower remained an esquire until his death in 1637.10 The Member was in fact the eldest son of Sir Walter Vaughan, a major Wiltshire landowner who had represented his native county in the first Jacobean Parliament.

Vaughan attended both Oxford University, where he took his degree, and the Middle Temple, and was commended by his second wife as surpassing his contemporaries in erudition - yet he left no evidence of his learning.11 After completing his education, Vaughan and his father looked to contract a suitable marriage. The family hailed from Bedwardine in Herefordshire, but also had interests in south Wales, and it was through these contacts that in 1605 Vaughan married one of the prospective heiresses of Sir Robert Knollys I*, whose wife was a kinswoman of the Bredwardine Vaughans. Shortly after the wedding, Vaughan had a large pedigree drawn up at Brecon in which he is described as ‘of Bredwardine’. It detailed his descent from the princes and royal tribes of Wales and was embellished with 103 painted shields.12 His Welsh ancestry was evidently important to him for his funeral monument also drew attention to the fact that he was ‘sprung from the very ancient British family of the Vaughans’.13 At around the time of his marriage, Vaughan, in concert with his father who presumably provided the capital, purchased the Knollys estates in Breconshire, including the manor and house of Porthaml, which was valued at £500 p.a.14 He was knighted in 1608, probably through the intercession of his courtier father-in-law.

Vaughan apparently resided at his father’s house in Wiltshire, but his political capital and landed presence in Breconshire allowed him to be returned to the 1614 Parliament as shire knight, possibly as a sort of proxy for Knollys. His only contribution to its proceedings was an unrecorded speech delivered on 7 June, during the angry debates following James’s announcement that he intended to dissolve the assembly.15 That same year Vaughan’s wife died, predeceasing her father, but the earlier purchase of the Knollys estates meant that Vaughan was insulated from any wrangling over their ownership, and ensured him a continued presence in Breconshire society. Indeed, he proceeded to augment his Breconshire estates by purchasing the substantial manor of Talgarth and lands in Llyswen, Cantrecelly and Bronllys.16 Although now one of the county’s major landholders, he remained aloof from Breconshire politics and under his father’s wing at Falstone. It is surprising, then, that he was returned once more as the Breconshire knight in 1625. There does not seem to have been any contest, however, as the Member in the previous two Parliaments, Sir Henry Williams, endorsed Vaughan’s election return.17 Vaughan made no impression on the records of the assembly.

Vaughan took as his second wife the daughter of a Dorset knight, but continued to live at Falstone. Involved in some litigation over Talgarth in 1629, he otherwise continued to maintain a low profile, although his wife commended him for discharging his public duties ‘most creditably’.18 Vaughan fell ill of ‘a wasting consumption’ at Bristol in 1631, describing himself as a resident of the city in his will dated 14 Feb. - a reference, perhaps, to the fact that his father’s third wife came from nearby Lee. In this document he bequeathed £130 to his wife, and left additional small sums and modest gifts to his family’s servants and his wife’s relations. He died, childless, two days later. For reasons that are unclear, probate was not granted until November 1634.19 Vaughan’s wife erected a fine alabaster tomb in memory of her husband in Bristol Cathedral. This showed him recumbent in full armour and lauded him as a model of conjugal affection and one who ‘wisely managed his private concerns, and above all counselled his spiritual health’.20 After his death, Vaughan’s lands reverted to his father, who settled them on his eldest son by his second marriage, Sir George, and thence to his brother Frederick,21 whose daughter, Bridget, brought the estates to John Ashburnham II†.22

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Lloyd Bowen


  • 1. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. pp. xxvi. 247-8.
  • 2. Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 13; NLW, Tredegar Park 137/96.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; MTR, 425.
  • 4. NLW, Ashburnham Group II, 2/14; E. Suss. RO, ASH/4150; Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. pp. xxvi. 248.
  • 5. Vis. Wilts. (Harl. Soc. cv-cvi), 13; Vis. Dorset (Harl. Soc. xx), 70; PROB 11/211, f. 142.
  • 6. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 146.
  • 7. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. pp. xxvi. 247-8.
  • 8. JPs in Wales and Monm. ed. Phillips, 263-9.
  • 9. C193/12/2, f. 66.
  • 10. PROB 11/173, f. 64v; C2/Jas.I/U3/46; C2/Chas.I/U9/39. The two contracted a grant in 1625: NLW, Ashburnham Group II, 101/7.
  • 11. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. pp. xxvi. 247.
  • 12. E. Suss. RO, ASH/788.
  • 13. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. pp. xxvi. 247.
  • 14. NLW, Ashburnham Group II, 2/14, 100/45.
  • 15. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 437.
  • 16. C8/64/76; NLW, Tredegar Park 137/86, 96-7; Ashburnham Group II, 2/14, 100/13.
  • 17. C219/39/255.
  • 18. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. pp. xxvi. 247.
  • 19. NLW, Ashburnham Group I, 310. Although the probate is attached to the will, there is no trace of it in Cal. of Wills Proved in Consistory Ct. ... of Bristol, 1572-1792 ed. E.A. Fry (Bristol Rec. Soc. xvii).
  • 20. Trans. Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. pp. xxvi. 245-9.
  • 21. Wilts. IPMs ed. G.S. and A.E. Fry (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 428-9.
  • 22. NLW, Ashburnham Group II, 2/14; E. Suss. RO, ASH/4151-6, 4158, 4161.