Benjamin Vaughan

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Benjamin Vaughan

Benjamin Vaughan MD LLD (19 April 1751 – 8 December 1835)[1] was a British political radical. He was a commissioner in the negotiations between Britain and the United States and the drafting of the Treaty of Paris.


Vaughan was born in Jamaica to Samuel Vaughan, a British West India merchant planter, and an Anglo-American mother Sarah Hallowell. He was educated at Newcome's School and Warrington Academy and attended Trinity Hall, Cambridge, without graduating.[2] He then read medicine at the University of Edinburgh. His interest was in politics and sciences: the latter led to his friendship with Benjamin Franklin.

Vaughan was a political economist, merchant and medical doctor. Through Benjamin Horne, brother of John Horne, he met the politician Lord Shelburne.[3] Shelburne then used Vaughan in a diplomatic role, to try to bring peace between Great Britain and the United States, towards the end of the American War of Independence. He was also a middleman in reconciling Franklin and Shelburne.

He was elected at a by-election in 1792 as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the borough of Calne in Wiltshire, and held the seat until the 1796 general election. He spoke in parliament in defence of slavery in Jamaica, in his maiden speech. By 1794 he was in favour of the abolition of the slave trade.[2]

After 1794, Vaughan left France for Switzerland and later to America. His interest in republicanism lead to his permanent departure from Britain. He settled in Boston and then on a farm in Hallowell, Maine in 1797. In 1805, Vaughan was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[4] and in 1813, he was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society.[5] He died in Hallowell in 1835. John Vaughan (wine merchant) was his brother.


Vaughan married Sarah Manning in 1781 and had several children:

The family and descendents remained in Maine after Vaughan settled in Hallowell in 1797[6] and continue to reside in the town today.[7]


Several places are named for Vaughan:


  1. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "C" (part 1)[self-published source][better source needed]
  2. ^ a b Vaughan, Benjamin (1751-1835), of Finsbury Square, London.
  3. ^ Edmond George Petty-Fitzmaurice, Baron Fitzmaurice, Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, afterwards first Marquess of Lansdowne vol. 2 (1912), p. 165 note 3;
  4. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  5. ^ American Antiquarian Society Members Directory
  6. ^ Vaughan Family Papers. Massachusetts Historical Society
  7. ^ Historic Homestead.
  8. ^ Historic Hallowell.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Morris
Joseph Jekyll
Member of Parliament for Calne
1792 – 1796
With: Joseph Jekyll
Succeeded by
Sir Francis Baring, Bt
Joseph Jekyll