Vaughans of Thornbury Castle

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Thornbury, Gloucestershire, Englandmap
Surnames/tags: Vaughan Thornbury_Castle
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The Vaughan family were stewards of Thornbury Castle during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The oldest Vaughan known to be associated with the Castle was Catherine. Buried on 14 October 1774, "Catherine, Daughter of Richard Davis of Clyrough, Radnor, Gentleman: relict of James Vaughan of Hinton Court, Hereford, Esquire Died: 11 October 1774 Age: (upon the coffin) 92. She was buried in the Church Yard near the Stone Stiles, next to the Castle Gate ".[1]

Other deaths recorded are of Mrs Mary Vaughan of the Castle in 1785 age 75, and Mr John Vaughan of the Castle in 1790 age 72.

The death of James Vaughan c1711-1801, or the death of his brother Edward in 1806, did not complete the Vaughan tenure of Thornbury Castle, as James, probably the son of John, was noted there in later years.

In his will proved 4 Jul 1801 "James Vaughan of Thornbury Castle in parish of Thornbury in the County of Gloucester Gentleman", after making various provisions and bequests, including minor bequests to our great great great grandfather John Vaughan and his siblings, directed his executors to offer his household goods and furniture for purchase to Henry Howard: the price in Henry Howard's favour:

… and I hereby expressly order authorize and direct my said Trustees and the survivor of those his Executors or Administrators to give the choice and offer of Sale to Henry Howard Esquire of all or such part or parts of my Household Goods and Furniture as he shall like to become a purchaser of and at such reasonable price or prices as any two indifferent persons to be mutually chosen by the said Henry Howard and my said Trustees shall fix and appoint such to indifferent persons being hereby directed in fixing such price or prices to lean towards or in favour of the said Henry Howard ….[2]

His title was yet to be bestowed upon Henry Howard.

Lord Henry Thomas Howard-Molyneux-Howard (7 October 1766 – 17 June 1824), known as Henry Howard until 1812 as Henry Molyneux-Howard until 1817, was a British gentleman who served as Deputy Earl Marshal in the latter part of the reign of George III and early in the reign of George IV. On the inheritance of the Dukedom of Norfolk in 1815 by his elder brother Bernard Howard, 12th Duke of Norfolk, Henry Molyneux-Howard in 1817 was granted the courtesy title "Lord", the style of a younger son of a duke. [3]

In the extract from 'The history of Thornbury Castle' (image) perhaps it was already a Vaughan who was the … agent, who supervised repairs to the castle and to the sea wall along the estuary, [and] sent him “pots” of sturgeon and bottles of Bristol Hotwell Water.[4] The article does not distinguish between Henry Howard the father who became Lord Henry, and the son born in 1802 who restored the castle in 1824 at age 22 when his father died.

No doubt James Vaughan's furniture, had it been bought by Henry Howard the elder 1766-1824, would have been discarded when the rundown castle was restored after 1824 by Henry Howard the younger 1802-1875.

Another James Vaughan, probably the nephew of the writer of the will, steward of Thornbury Castle, was mentioned in a letter from the Vicar to "his Grace" about the sewerage problem of Thornbury. James was not a popular man.

Thornbury for quite some time appears to have been a very smelly place indeed and “sewage flowing down the streets” was indeed the problem for very many years. It was the subject of a letter of complaint from the vicar of Thornbury, William Holwell, who accused the local Steward of blocking the flow of sewage down Castle Street and into the Pithay behind the church.

There is directly before the Parochial Church, and close adjoining to my dwelling house, a most insufferable nuisance which has been long a real subject of complaints and which is daily increasing by unusual, and, as I apprehend, illegal encroachment. Your Grace’s Steward, Mr James Vaughan, who seems by his conduct to set every thing and person at defiance, has made the Church Way, and the King’s Highway, and part of the Green before the Church, the Common Receptacle of all the Filth of the Town. Ancient water courses (contrary to express laws) have been stopped up, which used either to receive part of the washings, or decently to carry off the remainder into one of your Grace’s grounds, called the Pitties. Thus the King’s Highway is destroyed, and the Church insulted; my house is become offensive and the whole Parish scandalized by an instance not to be paralleled in this Kingdom. The Filth thus collected, and after some months offensive continuance, dug out, and laid in heaps by the Church and before my windows. [5]


  1. Gloucestershire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813, Reference Number: P330 IN 1/5, Catherine Vaughan
  2. England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858, The National Archives; Kew, England; Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1361
  4. Bryan Little, THORNBURY CASTLE, Reprinted from Gloucestershire History No. 4 (1990) p.4.
  5. Thornbury Roots, Sewage.

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