Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Vaughan, Stephen

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

VAUGHAN, STEPHEN (d. 1549), diplomatist, was probably a native of London, and, as he speaks as though, he had known Dean Colet, may possibly have been educated at St. Paul's school. Probably his father, who was alive in 1535, was a member of the Mercers' Company, with which the school was connected, and Stephen himself became subsequently a merchant of London. About 1520 he made the acquaintance of Thomas Cromwell, possibly in the course of his mercantile pursuits, and at various times Cromwell seems to have lent him money. In March 1523-4 he was in Cromwell's service, and he rose with the rise of his master. Through Cromwell's influence he was employed by Wolsey to 'write the evidence' for his college at Oxford (Letters and Papers, iv. 2538, 5787). But he was mainly occupied with commercial pursuits; he was a member of the company of merchant adventurers, and his business relations with Flanders necessitated frequent and prolonged visits to Antwerp. He was frequently entrusted with commissions on behalf of Cromwell and of Henry VIII, and about 1530 became royal agent or king's factor in the Netherlands (Burgon, Life and Times of Sir T. Gresham, i. 57). His principal duty was to negotiate loans with the Fuggers, and his salary seems to have consisted in the 'fee penny,' or commission on the accounts he raised.

Vaughan had already adopted the religious views of the English reformers, and in 1529 he complains that John Hutton, the governor of the Merchant Adventurers' Company, actuated by jealousy, had instigated charges of heresy against him before the bishop of London and Sir Thomas More, and that More continually sought to obtain evidence against him (ib. iv. 5823). The influence of Cromwell, who in the will he made in 1529 left Vaughan a hundred marks, protected him, and on Hutton's death about 1534 Vaughan succeeded him as governor of the company. He also became, in succession to Sir John Hackett, president of the factory of English merchants at Antwerp, residing in what was called 'the English House.' In 1531 he was charged by Henry VIII to persuade William Tyndale [q. v.] the translator of the Bible, to retract his heretical opinions and return to England. He had various ineffectual interviews with Tyndale, frequently forwarded early copies of his books to the king, and occasionally succeeded in delaying their publication. His efforts did not satisfy Henry VIII, who thought Vaughan 'bore too much affection towards Tyndale;' Vaughan had also interceded in Latimer's favour when he was cited before convocation in January 1531-2; and fresh charges of heresy were brought against him by one George Constantine in 1532. In reply to these Vaughan wrote an outspoken and courageous protest against Henry's persecution of the reformers. 'Instead of punishments, tortures, and death,' he declared, 'ridding the realm of erroneous opinions ... let the king be advertised from me that he will prove that it will cause the sect in the end to wax greater, and these errors to be more plenteously sowed in his realm' (ib. v. 574). Nevertheless, he was on 6 Aug. 1534 appointed 'to the office of writing the king's books lately held by Thomas Hall, deceased,' with a salary of 20l. a year.

In December 1532 Vaughan was sent on a mission to Paris and Lyons, and in August following accompanied Mont on his tour through Germany to report on the political situation in the various states [see Mont, Christopher]. His ignorance of German impaired his usefulness, and after visiting Nuremberg, Cologne, and Saxony, he returned to Antwerp in December, where he sought to effect the capture of William Peto [q. v.], the fugitive friar (cf. Froude, iv. 394). On 10 April 1534 he was appointed a clerk in chancery, an office which did not prevent his residence at Antwerp. In January 1535-6 he was in England, and was sent to watch over Chapuys during his interview with Catherine of Arragon, at Kimbolton, shortly before her death. In the following summer, when again at Antwerp, he made strenuous efforts to save Tyndale from the flames. Soon afterwards he was given a position in the mint, of which he ultimately became under-treasurer (Ruding, Annals of the Coinage, i. 66). In 1538 he was sent with Wriothesley and Sir Edward Carne [q. v.] to negotiate respecting the intended marriage of Henry VIII with the Duchess of Milan (the stories in the Spanish Chron. of Henry VIII, pp. 89, 93, relative to a similar embassy regarding Anne of Cleves, seem to be fictitious). About the same time he became governor of the merchant adventurers of Bergen, and in 1541 he was sent with Carne to the regent of Flanders to procure the repeal of the restrictions on English commerce. In 1544 he was granted the clerkship of dispensations, and about the same time the priory of St. Mary Spital, Shoreditch (Rymer, xv. 26; Ellis, Shoreditch, p. 326). He retained his post as agent in the Netherlands until September 1546, when he returned to England and occupied himself with his business as under-treasurer of the mint. On 26 Oct. 1547 he was returned to parliament for Lancaster.

Vaughan died in London on 25 Dec. 1549. He was twice married: first, to Margery Gwynneth or Guinet, whose brother, John Guinet, clerk, was his executor (Acts P. C. ii. 308) ; and, secondly, to Margery Brinclow, possibly a relative of Henry Brinkelow [q. v.] The second marriage was licensed on 27 April 1546, and apparently took place at Calais, in the chapel of the lord-deputy, Lord Cobham, who at Vaughan's request entertained the bride previous to the ceremony (Harleian MS. 283, f. 218). By his first wife Vaughan had three surviving children, two daughters and a son Stephen, who was twelve years old (cf. Venn, Biogr. Hist. of Gonville and Caius Coll. p. 37). Stephen inherited his father's property, consisting of twelve tenements in St. Mary Spital, Shoreditch, three in Watling Street, All Saints, one in St. Benedict's, and one in Westcheap; he was father of Sir Rowland Vaughan, and grandfather of Elizabeth Vaughan, who married Paulet St. John, second son of Oliver St. John, first earl of Bolingbroke [q. v.]

[Vaughan's correspondence is extant in the Record Office, and among the Cottonian and Harleian MSS., especially Nos. 283 and 284, in the British Museum; a 'book' which he wrote and sent to Cromwell, on commercial affairs in the Netherlands, does not seem to have been printed. See also Lansdowne MS. 109, f. 90; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vols. ii-xv.; State Papers, Henry VIII, 11 vols.; Cal. State Papers, Spanish, vol. v. pt. i. pp. 2, 3, 17; Ellis's Orig. Letters, 3rd ser. ii. 141, 171, 200, 206, 208, 215, 221, 281; Rymer's Foedera, xv. 26, 101; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent, vols. i. and ii.; London Inquisitions post mortem (Index Library), i. 8.5-7; Chester's Lond. Marr. Licences; Visit. of London (Harl. Soc.), ii 309; Official Return of Members of Parl.; Tyndale's Works (Parker Soc.), passim; Domaus's Life of Tyndale, ed. 1886; Burgon's Life and Times of Gresham, i. 57-63, 73, 74, 91; Lit. Remains of Edward VI (Roxburghe Club).]

A. F. P.