Vaughan, John (1603-1674) (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 58
Vaughan, John (1603-1674)

by James McMullen Rigg
The first edition has author initials J. M. E., apparently a mistake for J. M. R.

VAUGHAN, Sir JOHN (1603–1674), judge, eldest son of Edward Vaughan of Trawscoed, Cardiganshire, the family seat since the thirteenth century, by his wife Letitia, daughter of John Stedman of Strata Florida Abbey in the same county, was born at Trawscoed on 13 Sept. 1603. He was educated at the king's school, Worcester, and Christ Church, Oxford, where he resided between 1618 and 1623, but did not graduate. At the Inner Temple, where he was admitted in November 1620, called to the bar in 1630, and elected a bencher in 1660, he was inducted into law by Selden, who made him his close friend—to him is dedicated the ‘Vindiciæ Maris Clausi’—and eventually co-legatee with Sir Matthew Hale of his library, and co-executor of his will. According to Clarendon, also an early friend, his legal studies ‘disposed him to least reverence to the crown and most to popular authority, yet without inclination to any change of government’ (Life, ed. 1827, i. 37). His conduct was equally inconsistent. A Star-chamber practice brought him wealth and fame, and in the Long parliament, to which, as to its two immediate predecessors, he was returned for the borough of Cardigan, he was supposed to sympathise with Strafford, but absented himself from the final division on his bill of attainder (22 April 1641). He subscribed the protestation of loyalty to the protestant religion on 3 May following, but on the outbreak of hostilities adhered to the king, and retired to Trawscoed, which was plundered by roundheads on 26 Jan. 1644–5. Though he does not appear to have given any very active support to the royal cause, the parliament, after voting his discharge from attendance on 1 Sept. 1645, assigned (22 Oct.) his library at the Inner Temple to John Glynne [q. v.], recorder of London, afterwards chief justice. He saved himself from sequestration by rendering assistance to the parliamentary forces at the siege of Aberystwith Castle (November to December 1646), but his name was nevertheless inserted in the list of delinquents (29 June 1648). At the king's request he was assigned by parliament (29–31 Aug. 1648) as one of his advisers during the negotiations at Newport. He afterwards suffered a term of imprisonment—cause and duration uncertain—which was intermitted in 1650 for three months, during which he had leave (license of the council of state dated 22 July) to reside in London for the benefit of his health. On 18 Dec. 1656 he was authorised to resume practice at the bar; but, scrupling to recognise the government, he remained in retirement until the Restoration.

Declining the seat on the bench then offered him by Clarendon, Vaughan was appointed about July 1660 steward of Mevennydd and other royal manors in Cardiganshire. Returned for that county to the pensionary parliament, he early distinguished himself as a leader of the country party. He was the principal opponent of the transference of the three years' limit from the duration to the intermission of parliaments (31 March 1664–5), and made an ingenious but unsuccessful attempt to enervate by amendment the new test imposed on dissenting ministers in the same year (Burnet, Own Time, fol. i. 225). In 1667 (October to December) he stood forth as one of the most zealous and determined of the promoters of the impeachment of his former friend Clarendon. He presided in the spring of 1668 over the committee charged with the collection of precedents bearing on the constitutional questions raised by the cases of Alexander Fitton [q. v.] and Thomas Skinner (1629?–1679) [q. v.], and took a leading part in the conferences with the lords and other proceedings. In the same year he was knighted, invested with the coif, and created chief justice of the common pleas (19–20 May). As such he was ex officio a member of the court of summary jurisdiction charged with the determination of cases between owners and occupiers of tenements in the districts ravaged by the fire of London (19 Car. II, c. 3). In recognition of his services in this capacity, the corporation caused his portrait to be painted by Michael Wright, and placed in Guildhall (1671). By virtue of a special commission Vaughan sat as speaker of the House of Lords in the absence of Lord-keeper Bridgeman, 6–18 Nov. 1669, and 11 March to 4 April 1669–70.

Vaughan died at Serjeants' Inn on 10 Dec. 1674. His remains were interred in the Temple church, where there is a monument to his memory. The portrait of Vaughan mentioned by Evelyn (Corresp. ed. Bray, p. 301) as in the Clarendon gallery is now missing. Engraved portraits of him are at the British Museum, and one is prefixed to his ‘Reports,’ edited from his manuscripts by his son, Edward Vaughan, London, 1677, fol.; 2nd ed. 1706. Three of Vaughan's letters, one dated 12 March 1643–4, the others only 10 and 11 April, are printed in ‘Archæologia Cambrensis,’ new series, iv. 62–7.

Edward Vaughan (d. 1688), son of the lord chief justice by his wife Jane, eldest daughter of John Stedman of Cilcennin, Cardiganshire, M.P. for Cardigan 26 Feb. 1678–9 to 28 March 1681, married Letitia, daughter of Sir William Hooker, and had a son John (b. about 1670, d. 1721), who was created by William III Baron of Fethard, co. Tipperary, and Viscount Lisburne, co. Antrim, and was ancestor of the Earls of Lisburne.

[Life by Edward Vaughan, prefixed to Vaughan's Reports; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 1026; Whitelocke's Mem. p. 177; Commons' Journal, iv. 260, ix. 55; Lords' Journal, vii. 656, xii. 261–9, 305–38; Rushworth's Hist. Mem. III. i. 244, ii. 575; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650 p. 248, 1656–7 p. 203, 1660–1 p. 141, 1664–5 p. 90, 1667 pp. 142, 406; Cal. Committee for Compounding, 1642–56, ii. 894; Members of Parliament (Official Lists); Letters of Humphrey Prideaux to John Ellis (Camden Soc.), p. 27; Bishop Cosin's Corresp. (Surtees Soc.), ii. 276, 278; Harl. MS. 4931, f. 126; Addit. MSS. 21507, 22883, f. 97; Stowe MSS. 180 f. 84, 304 ff. 77, 84–6; Hatsell's Prec. (1818), iii. App. ii.; Cobbett's State Trials, vi. 726; Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights (Harl. Soc.), p. 207; Phillips's Civil War in Wales, p. 355; Cambrian Register, i. 164; Cambrian Quarterly Mag. i. 61; Granger's Biogr. Hist. of England, 4th ed. iii. 369; Brief Memoirs of the Judges whose portraits are preserved in Guildhall (1791); Pepys's Diary, ed. Braybrooke; Evelyn's Diary; Walpole's Anecd. of Painting, ed. Wornum, iii. 952; Yorke's Royal Tribes of Wales, p. 110; Foss's Lives of the Judges; Nicholas's Annals of the Counties and County Families of Wales; Peerage of Ireland, 1768; G. E. C[okayne]'s Complete Peerage; Williams's Parl. Hist. of Wales; Notes and Queries, 9th ser. iv. 4.]J. M. E.