William Vaughan (royalist)

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Sir William Vaughan (died 1649) was an English royalist commander in the First English Civil War. He was killed at the Battle of Rathmines during the Irish Confederate Wars, fighting the English Republican army led by Michael Jones.


Almost nothing is known of Vaughan's early life, though he is often supposed to have been a member of one of the several landowning Vaughan families of Shropshire or Herefordshire.[1] He is sometimes identified as the William Vaughan who was admitted to Shrewsbury School in 1596, which would indicate his birth date as being around 1585.[1][2][3]

Vaughan appears to have been serving in the Irish campaign of 1643, for towards the end of the following January the Marquis of Ormonde despatched him (already described as Sir William) from Dublin at the head of some 160 horse, with which he landed early in February 1644 at Neston in Cheshire. Having joined the royalist forces at Chester under John Byron, 1st Baron Byron, he took part in Welsh and northern engagements during the ensuing summer. On 25 March, with Colonel Ellis, he defeated Thomas Mytton at Lilleshall.[4] He defeated parliamentary cavalry at Much Wenlock on 9 May;[5] then during May and June that year, he and his regiment took part in the campaign to relieve the besieged city of York, which ended with the disastrous Battle of Marston Moor on 2 July.[6] In September he accompanied Byron to the relief of Montgomery. On 8 September with Sir Michael Erneley he advanced from Shrewsbury, surprised Thomas Myddelton who retreated towards Oswestry, and shut Mytton up in Montgomery.[4] On 18 September Sir John Meldrum defeated Byron and Erneley, with Vaughan not much involved.[1]

He was appointed governor of Shrawardine Castle in Shropshire, which he garrisoned on 28 September. In early October he was surprised and taken prisoner by Mytton while receiving the sacrament on his knees in Shrawardine church.[1] He was allowed to re-enter the castle on the pretext of persuading a surrender, but, breaking his parole, he raised the drawbridge. During the following winter he was general of Shropshire, he quartered his own regiment in the various garrisons of the county, and left his clergyman brother James in command of Shrawardine. He continued to harass parliamentarians in the district, and received the nickname "The Devil of Shrawardine" (according to Mercurius Aulicus) perhaps as a result of his lack of scruples in confiscating their property.[1]

When the king in May 1645 marched from Oxford towards Chester, he was met on the 17th at Newport, Shropshire (or Evesham), by Vaughan. He was defeated by Oliver Cromwell on 27 April at Bampton in Oxfordshire. During the next four weeks he accompanied the king), and at the battle of Naseby he took part in the charge that pierced through the enemy's force. After that defeat he fell back on Shropshire, where on 4 and 5 July he won two victories, resulting in the relief of High Ercall. Vaughan was shortly after directed by Prince Maurice to join Prince Rupert at Bristol, but for a few months he attended the king in his marches along the Welsh borders, accompanying him to Newark, where towards the end of October he was appointed general of the horse in all Wales, and in Shropshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, and Herefordshire. He marched back to Denbighshire to organise the royalist troops there and relieve Chester (then besieged by Sir William Brereton), but on 1 November was attacked and defeated by Mytton and Colonel Michael Jones, just outside the town of Denbigh. Vaughan's routed horse made their way to Knighton, Radnorshire, where on 13 November the party broke up; but many, with their commander, found temporary quarters at Leominster, but soon had to escape to Worcester. Early in December he received orders to renew the attempt to relieve Chester, whereupon he began the difficult task of reinforcing his troops, chiefly around Leominster and Ludlow.[1]

In January 1646 he joined his forces with those of Jacob Astley, 1st Baron Astley of Reading, and they hovered about Bridgnorth, waiting for Lord St. Paul with Welsh troops; but their junction with him failing, Vaughan and Astley had to fall back once more on Worcester. On 22 March their joint forces were completely broken up at the battle of Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire, by Brereton, who had hurried in pursuit of them immediately after he had taken Chester.[1][7]

The war being practically at an end, Vaughan went to The Hague. There in November 1648 Prince Rupert gave him the command of a ship. In Ireland he became major-general of horse under Ormonde. When General Michael Jones, however, surprised the royalists at Rathmines, on 2 August 1649, Vaughan led the charge in repulsing him, but was killed at the head of his men.[1]

On 8 October 1651 Charles Vaughan, his administrator, applied for leave to compound for his estate, and permission was granted.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Thomas 1899, pp. 185–187.
  2. ^ Young 1985, p. 47.
  3. ^ Fisher 1899, p. 152.
  4. ^ a b "Timeline 1644". British-civil-wars.co.uk. 2010-12-05. Retrieved November 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ "Much Wenlock | A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 10 (pp. 399-447)". British-history.ac.uk. Retrieved November 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. ^ http://www.battleofmarstonmoor.co.uk/battleslaughter.html Archived June 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "The Battle of Torrington, 1646". British-civil-wars.co.uk. 2006-09-17. Retrieved November 2013.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)


  • Fisher, G. W. (1899). Annals of Shrewsbury School. p. 152. 
  • Young, P. (1985). Naseby 1645. Century. p. 47.