Vaughan, Robert (1592-1667) (DNB00)

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VAUGHAN, ROBERT (1592–1667), Welsh antiquary, was the only son of Howel Vychan ap Gruffydd ap Hywel of Gwengraig, near Dolgelly, and his wife Margaret, second daughter of Edward Owen of Hengwrt, a son of ‘Baron’ Lewis Owen (d. 1555) [q. v.] On Hywel's acquisition of Hengwrt (by purchase, not by marriage—see Byegones for 1872, p. 99), it became the seat of the family. Robert was born in 1592, and on 4 Dec. 1612 matriculated at Oxford as a commoner of Oriel College. He left without taking a degree, and spent the rest of his life at Hengwrt in studious retirement, holding aloof from the political struggles of his day. By his marriage with Catherine, daughter of Gruffydd Nanney of Nannau, he had four sons: Hywel, who succeeded him at Hengwrt and was sheriff of Merioneth in 1671–2 (Kalendars of Gwynedd); Ynyr, Hugh, and Gruffydd. It was in a later generation that the estates of Hengwrt and Nannau became united. Vaughan died on 16 May 1667, and was buried at Dolgelly. He was a diligent collector of Welsh manuscripts, and to his own collection at Hengwrt was added before his death that of John Jones of Gelli Lyfdy, near Caerwys, in virtue of an arrangement between the two that the survivor should become possessed of the manuscripts of both. This joint collection, numbering many hundreds of manuscripts, has been preserved intact to the present day, passing in 1859, on the death of the last of the Vaughans, to the Wynnes of Peniarth, near Towyn, where it is now kept. It includes the ‘Black Book of Carmarthen’ and the ‘Book of Taliesin,’ two of the ‘four ancient books of Wales.’ Among the manuscripts are transcripts and some original tracts by Vaughan, but the only work he printed was ‘British Antiquities Revived’ (Oxford, 1662), an attempt to establish, against South Welsh objectors, the view put forward by Powel in his ‘Historie of Cambria’ as to the supremacy enjoyed by the princes of North Wales over those of Powys and the south. A second edition of this, with an introductory memoir of the author, appeared at Bala in 1834.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss; Dwnn's Heraldic Visitations, ii. 227, 237; Hist. of Powys Fadog, vi. 22, 411, iv. 292–3; Archæologia Cambrensis, 3rd ser. v. 234 (1859). Catalogues of the Hengwrt MSS. are to be found in the Cambrian Register, vol. iii., the Transactions of the Cymrodorion Society for 1843, and Archæologia Cambrensis for 1869, 1870, and 1871.]

J. E. L.