Vaughan, Rowland (DNB00)

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VAUGHAN, ROWLAND (fl. 1640), Welsh writer, was son and heir of John Vaughan of Caer Gai, Merionethshire, who was sheriff of that county in 1613–14 and 1620–1, by his wife Ellen, daughter of Hugh Nanney of Nannau. The Vaughans of Caer Gai were a younger branch of the Vaughans of Llwydiarth, near Llanfyllin (Dwnn, Heraldic Visitations, i. 227, ii. 291, 294; History of Powys Fadog, vi. 113–16). Born towards the end of the sixteenth century, he was for a short time at Oxford (preface to translation of tract by Despagne), probably, as Wood says (Athenæ Oxon.), as an inmate of Jesus College, though the name does not seem to be in the matriculation register. By the death of his father he came, in December 1629, into possession of Caer Gai, and in 1642–3 was sheriff of Merioneth. On the outbreak of the civil war he actively espoused the king's cause, and fought as a captain at Naseby (Gwyliedydd, iv. 247). In August 1645 his house at Caer Gai, which had been garrisoned for the king, was burnt by a parliamentary force from Montgomeryshire, and the estate given to one of his kinsmen (Archæologia Cambrensis, 1st ser. i. 40; Phillips, Civil War in Wales, i. 342; Edwards, Traethodau Llenyddol, p. 295). Vaughan himself was imprisoned in March 1650, soon, however, to be released, for he was nominated on the grand jury of Merioneth in 1652, though he did not serve, owing to the objections of the parliamentary party (Cambrian Quarterly Magazine, i. 73; preface to translation of Mayne's Sermon). After living for many years in obscurity, he recovered his estates, though not without a protracted lawsuit, at the Restoration, and rebuilt Caer Gai, where he died early in the reign of Charles II. He married Jane, daughter and heiress of Edward Price of Coed Prysg, an estate which adjoined Caer Gai, and had by her four sons—John, Edward, Arthur, and Gabriel—and four daughters, Ellen, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Mary. He was succeeded by his eldest son, John (born in 1616 or 1617), who was sheriff of Merioneth in 1669–70. The estates of Caer Gai and Coed Prysg ultimately passed by sale to the Wynnstay family.

Vaughan was a writer of Welsh verse, and the third edition of ‘Carolau a Dyriau Duwiol’ (Shrewsbury, 1729) contains eight religious poems which are ascribed to him. In ‘Blodeugerdd Cymru’ also (Shrewsbury, 1759) a poem of his appears which deplores the evils of the civil war. He is, however, chiefly remembered as a translator into Welsh of manuals of devotion. In 1630 appeared ‘Yr Ymarfer o Dduwioldeb’ (London), a translation of Bishop Bayly's ‘Practice of Piety,’ which became remarkably popular, and was reissued in 1656, 1675, 1685, 1700, and 1710. During the Commonwealth period Vaughan was busy at several Welsh translations, all of which, it would seem, were published together in 1658. They were versions of: 1. ‘A Catechism, by Archbishop Ussher.’ 2. ‘A Defence of the Use of the Lord's Prayer, by J. Despagne.’ 3. ‘A Sermon by Dr. Mayne against Schism,’ preached in 1652. 4. ‘A Book of Prayers, compiled by Dr. Brough;’ with two other works of which the originals are not easily to be identified. His earnestness and industry won for Vaughan the esteem of men of all parties in Wales, but he was not well equipped as a translator, and for the third edition the ‘Ymarfer’ underwent extensive revision at the hands of Charles Edwards.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon.; Edwards's Traethodau Llenyddol, pp. 292–309; Breese's Kalendars of Gwynedd; preface to Eos Ceiriog; Rowland's Cambrian Bibliography; Ashton's Hanes Llenyddiaeth Gymreig.]

J. E. L.