VAUGHAN, ROBERT (1592? - 1667), antiquary, collector of the famous Hengwrt library

Name: Robert Vaughan
Date of birth: 1592?
Date of death: 1667
Spouse: Catrin Vaughan (née Nannau)
Child: Ann Evans (née Vaughan)
Child: Elin Ellis (née Vaughan)
Child: Jane Owen (née Vaughan)
Child: Margaret Price (née Vaughan)
Child: Hywel Vaughan
Child: Gruffudd Vaughan
Child: Ynyr Vaughan
Child: Hugh Vaughan
Parent: Margaret Fychan (née Owen)
Parent: Hywel Fychan ap Gruffydd ap Hywel
Gender: Male
Occupation: antiquary, collector of the famous Hengwrt library
Area of activity: History and Culture; Literature and Writing
Author: Evan David Jones

Only legitimate son of Howell Vaughan (died 1639), of Gwengraig, in the township of Garthgynfor and parish of Dolgelley on the eastern slope of Cader Idris, who traced his ancestry from Cadwgan, lord of Nannau, son of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, prince of Powys. His mother was Margaret, daughter of Edward Owen of Hengwrt, parish of Llanelltyd, and granddaughter of Lewis Owen, baron of the Exchequer of North Wales. Robert Powell Vaughan, or Robert Vaughan as he came to be known, was born at Gwengraig, about 1592, judging by the record of his entry into Oriel College, Oxford, at the age of 20, in 1612. He left college without taking his degree. The early period of his life is obscure, but it can be argued from his friendship with Rhys and Siôn Cain, whom he acknowledged to be his tutors in genealogy, that he spent some time at Oswestry. The date of his marriage to Catherine (1594 - 1663), daughter of Griffith Nanney (born 1568) is not known, but he was living at Gwengraig in 1624 and it is likely that he settled at Hengwrt soon after his marriage. Between 1608 and 1612 Hengwrt had been mortgaged by Robert Owen to his brother-in-law, Howell Vaughan. Robert Vaughan was on the commission of the peace for Merioneth and took an active part in local affairs. He appears to have acted as receiver of bridge mises in the county during the Commonwealth. The controversies of that period do not seem to have greatly disturbed his life. His chief interests were genealogy, early Welsh history and antiquities, and the collection of books and manuscripts. In these pursuits he corresponded with Rhys and Siôn Cain, Dr. John Davies of Mallwyd, Evan Lloyd Jeffrey of Palé, John Jones of Gellilyfdy (whose manuscripts became his property in 1658), Meredith Lloyd of Welshpool, William Maurice of Cefn-y-braich, the Wynne family of Gwydir, Sir Simonds d'Ewes, John Selden, James Ussher, archbishop of Armagh, and others. The library of manuscripts which he collected at Hengwrt is the finest collection of Welsh manuscripts ever assembled by an individual. It remained at Hengwrt until 1859, when it passed by the will of Sir Robert Williames Vaughan to W. W. E. Wynne of Peniarth. The purchase of the reversion of the Hengwrt-Peniarth library to Aberystwyth by Sir John Williams in 1905 was one of the deciding factors for establishing the National Library of Wales there. Robert Vaughan also collected books, but they were dispersed by Thomas Kerslake, a bookseller of Bristol, early in the 19th century. The catalogue which Robert Vaughan compiled of his library is extant (NLW MS 9095B ). He transcribed a large number of literary and historical texts, compiled a concordance of scripture, genealogical books, notably the great collection of Peniarth MS 287 , and tracts on early Welsh history and chronology, and translated 'Brut y Tywysogion' into English. He published at Oxford in 1662 a small book entitled British Antiquities Revived , containing a refutation of Sir Thomas Canon's arguments that Cadell was the eldest son of Rhodri Mawr and that, consequently, the princes of Deheubarth had superiority over those of Gwynedd, a correction of the pedigree of the earl of Carbery as given in Percy Enderbie's Cambria Triumphans, distinguishing between Gwaethfoed of Powys and Gwaethfoed of Ceredigion, and a short tract on the Five Royal Tribes of Wales.

Robert Vaughan died on Ascension Day 16 May 1667. Anthony Wood, on the authority of Thomas Ellis, rector of Dolgelley, states that he was buried in the church of that parish in 1666. The burial is not recorded in the parish register, but in a draft will, made 1 May 1665, he left instructions for his burial there. He left four sons and four daughters. HOWELL VAUGHAN, of Vanner, sheriff of Merioneth, 1671, who married (1) Jane, daughter of Robert Owen, Ystumcegid, and relict of Hugh Tudor of Egryn, and (2) Lowry, daughter of Griffith Derwas of Cemes, and widow of Humphrey Pugh of Aberffrydlan; YNYR VAUGHAN, who was unmarried but who had issue John ab Ynyr, who emigrated to Pennsylvania; HUGH VAUGHAN, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Edmund Meyrick of Ucheldre; and GRIFFITH VAUGHAN who had Dolmelynllyn and who married Catherine, daughter of John ap Robert ap John ap Lewis ap Meredith of Glynmaelda; MARGARET, who married (1) William Price, rector of Dolgelley, and (2) Robert Vaughan, son of Tudor Vaughan of Caerynwch; JANE, who married Robert Owen (died 1685), of Dolserau; ELIN, who married David Ellis, son of Rowland Ellis of Gwanas; and ANN, who married Hugh Evans of Berth-lwyd in Llanelltyd.


Published date: 1959

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