Vaughan, William (1752-1850) (DNB00)

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VAUGHAN, WILLIAM (1752–1850), merchant and author, born on 22 Sept. 1752, was the second son of Samuel Vaughan, a London merchant, by his wife Sarah, daughter of Benjamin Hallowell of Boston, Massachusetts. Benjamin Vaughan [q. v.] was his elder brother. He was educated at Newcome's school at Hackney and at the academy at Warrington in Lancashire. His studies were much directed to geography, history, travels, and voyages of discovery. After leaving school he entered his father's business, and soon became prominent in mercantile and commercial questions. In 1783 he was elected a director of the Royal Exchange Assurance Corporation, and continued in it, as director, sub-governor, and governor, until 1829. During the naval mutiny at the Nore in 1797 Vaughan formed one of the committee of London merchants convened to meet at the Royal Exchange to take prompt measures to restore tranquillity. He proved extremely active, and independently drew up a short address to the seamen which was put in circulation by the naval authorities. In 1791 he had endeavoured to form a society for the promotion of English canals, and, with this end in view, made a collection, in three folio volumes, of plans and descriptions relating to the subject. Failing in his object, he turned his attention to docks, on which he became one of the first authorities. From 1793 to 1797 he published a series of pamphlets and tracts advocating the construction of docks for the port of London, and on 22 April 1796 he gave evidence before a parliamentary committee in favour of the bill for establishing wet docks. The great development of London as a port must be regarded as partly due to his unceasing exertions.

Vaughan was for many years a fellow of the Royal Society, a fellow of the Linnean Society, and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He was a member of the New England Corporation, and filled the office of governor till 1829. He was also a member of the Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor, which was instrumental in 1815 in establishing the first savings bank in London, at Leicester Place, Westminster. Vaughan died in London on 5 May 1850, at his residence, 70 Fenchurch Street. He was a governor of Christ's Hospital and an honorary member of the Society of Civil Engineers. A bust of Vaughan was executed by Sir Francis Chantrey in 1811, and was reproduced from a drawing by the Rev. Daniel Alexander in Vaughan's ‘Tracts on Docks and Commerce,’ 1839.

He was the author of: 1. ‘On Wet Docks, Quays, and Warehouses for the Port of London,’ London, 1793, 8vo. 2. ‘Plan of the London Dock, with some Observations respecting the River,’ London, 1794, 8vo. 3. ‘Answers to Objections against the London Docks,’ London, 1796, 8vo. 4. ‘A Letter to a Friend on Commerce and Free Ports and London Docks,’ London, 1796, 8vo. 5. ‘Examination of William Vaughan in Committee of the House of Commons,’ London, 1796, 8vo. 6. ‘Reasons in favour of London Docks,’ London, 1797, 8vo. 7. ‘A Comparative Statement of the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Docks in Wapping and the Isle of Dogs,’ 2nd ed. London, 1799, 8vo. Nos. 1 to 6 were published collectively in 1797 under the title, ‘A Collection of Tracts on Wet Docks for the Port of London, with Hints on Trade and Commerce and on Free Ports.’ They were republished in 1839, with the addition of No. 7, and of several small pieces under the title, ‘Tracts on Docks and Commerce, printed between 1793 and 1800.’

[Memoir prefixed to Tracts on Docks and Commerce, 1839; Gent. Mag. 1850. i. 681; Pantheon of the Age, 1825.]

E. I. C.