The low born Welsh man from Monmouth that was Thomas Vaughan has interested me for over twenty years, ever since the day I discovered that he belonged, albeit by marriage, in my maternal family tree. His marriage to Eleanor Browne affected the life of number of my ancestors including his step daughter Kathrine Browne and most certainly that of her brother George.
Vaughan's service within noble and royal households can be traced back to his teens, he forged relationships while serving under the Lancastrian regime, notably with Jasper Tudor. These connections did not survive the second half of 1459 when he headed for Calais with the Yorkists. From that point on Vaughan proved himself a faithful supporter of Edward as the Earl of March and as king of England. This loyalty brought him power and money and influence and this may be due in part as Edward seeing Vaughan as a father figure and the grandfather his baby son never had, I read somewhere that
“wherever King Edward went, so did Sir Thomas, carrying the infant prince in his arms.”
In many ways Vaughan appears to be a well balanced, level headed and dependable man and the romantic in me sees him as a gentle giant, (I have no idea of his height or size) but some of his actions, especially during the 1460’s show underhandedness and dishonest behaviour.
Vaughan was brought before the courts on two separate occasions on charges of default. He stated in one case that he had paid for the goods (£35 worth of fur) and the second that he should not have to pay as he was under “duress of imprisonment” but the plaintiff pointed out that that Vaughan “was a free man at the time.” The total amount of his debt was over £83,000 in today’s money. In 1467 another case of money due but not paid was brought to court, this time Vaughan was there in his capacity of Sheriff of Surrey, however the case was dismissed and reconvened this time with Vaughan sitting on the panel of jurors. The court found that his place there was the result of a payment by the plaintiffs.
Loyal he may have been but he was also a liar, he was deceitful and his services brought for a bag of gold coins and as we have seen, he also appeared to have been underhanded in the case of his step children’s inheritance. But 1483 Thomas Vaughan’s private life was of no concern, however his allegiance to the Woodvilles was. His influence over the young prince at Ludlow could be seen as positive, however the Woodville's influence over the boy, once he returned to London was quite the opposite, it was considered that it might be detrimental to the country as a whole, sadly Vaughan’s association with the Woodvilles was his undoing, his only crime was being on the wrong side at the wrong time.
He wasn’t the first and he wouldn’t be the last to be in this position.
Vaughan’s life was taken away from him in a way that was far from what he deserved, and I feel that the vast majority of people who read about his fate would agree. I don’t believe that Thomas Vaughan played a part in the machinations of the Woodvilles or was part of the plot to rid England of the Duke of Gloucester.
In my opinion Thomas Vaughan's death was collateral damage.
Thomas Vaughan, Knight and Treasurer to King Edward IV and Chamberlain to the Prince of Wales
c1410 - 1483