VAUGHAN, Edward II (c.1635-84), of Trawscoed, Llanafan, Card. and Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



25 Aug. 1669
Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. c.1635, o.s. of (Sir) John Vaughan. educ. I. Temple 1653, called 1660. m. settlement 23 Mar. 1665, (with £2,050), Letitia, da. of Sir William Hooker, Grocer, of Crown Court, Gracechurch Street, London, 2s. 4da. suc. fa. 1674.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Card. 1661-80, j.p. 1662-d., steward of crown manors 1675-d., dep. lt. 1683-d.2

Ld. of Admiralty 1679-80.


Vaughan was proposed as a knight of the Royal Oak at the Restoration and credited with an estate (presumably as heir to his father) of £1,000 p.a. He succeeded his father as knight of the shire, and was likewise a powerful speaker and supporter of the country party. An active Member of the Cavalier Parliament, he served on 140 committees, acted as teller in six divisions, and made over 220 recorded speeches. In November 1669 he attacked Sir George Carteret for mismanagement of navy finances. In his first session he was appointed to the committee for the continuation of the conventicles bill, which he opposed on the grounds that it implied the King’s dispensing power. When the bill was revived in the next session he acted as teller against the very sweeping Lords’ proviso on the prerogative, and helped to manage a conference. He opposed, both in debate and division, the bill for the sale of fee-farm rents. ‘Of what nature is the King’s revenue when this is gone?’ he inquired. ‘Excise and custom, which depend upon the luxury of the subject?’ He was among those named after the Christmas recess to bring in the bill regarding the assault on Sir John Coventry. He was active in the debates on supply, supporting the proposal that absent Members should be doubly taxed. In March 1671 he helped to manage a conference on the growth of Popery and chaired the committee to encourage fisheries. In April, he was a manager of the conference on the additional impositions on foreign commodities, and helped to prepare reasons for a further conference.3

When Parliament reassembled during the third Dutch war, Vaughan spoke strongly against the Declaration of Indulgence:

When the King may dispense with any law it must be manifestly for the good of the subject. If it does injury to the subject it is illegal; if not, it is otherwise. No man is bound to a law where there is not a punishment, and if this Declaration signifies anything, the Church of England signifies nothing. ... This Declaration is a repeal of forty Acts of Parliament, no way repealable but by the same authority that made them. This Declaration does repeal fourteen statutes of the King. ... This prerogative is illegal.

He was appointed to the committee to prepare the address against the Declaration, and two weeks later that to consider an answer to the King on the suspending power. On 26 February, he was teller against omitting the word ‘unanimous’ in a further address against the Declaration. He also spoke on supply, declaring that:

the King has power of war and peace, but no otherwise than by law. If to raise money, you may go out of your chair and we home. The action of every Parliament is your judgment. No necessity whatever can raise money but by Act of Parliament.

He was one of those named to prepare an address on the growth of Popery. He served on the committee which produced the test bill. He helped to manage a conference on the growth of Popery, and was named to committees to consider the bill of ease for Protestant dissenters and to draw up an address on the state of Ireland. He appears to have been absent in the next two sessions, but in the spring session of 1675 he was among those appointed to bring in the bill appropriating the customs to the use of the navy, and to consider the bills to hinder Papists from sitting in Parliament and to prevent the growth of Popery. He played a prominent part in the disputes between the Houses, being ordered to amend the Commons reasons on the case of Arthur Onslow and taking part in three conferences on the jurisdiction of the Lords, one of which he reported. On 10 May 1675, he spoke on the recall of British subjects from French service, declaring:

If all national contracts are broken, no nation will trust us. ’Tis so amongst common men; but after you find leagues have been destructive, it has been the prudence of Princes (who may err like other men) to recall such leagues. When a peace shall be made, you expose these men to be knocked on the head, and when wounded, they have been knocked on the head to make room for the French. If you allow them to be there, you may be put to pay them before long.

In October, he helped to prepare a bill of penalties for those British subjects who had disobeyed the King’s proclamation of 19 May 1675 for their recall, and in November he helped to manage a conference on the subject. He also served on the committee to draw up the address for the apprehension of the Jesuit St. Germain.4

Despite the French danger, Vaughan was wary of entrusting the King with additional forces, declaring on 21 Feb. 1677 that the building of more than 20 warships would mean ‘our ruin’ and advocating a proportionate reduction in supply. He helped to manage a conference on the danger from France, and to draw up addresses promising assistance for war and urging an alliance. In the debate he declared that:

The King in his message told you that he could not go one step farther without £600,000, and you have already determined that unless somewhat be speedily done in pursuance of your advice and address, your very being is in danger. The law says the King can do no wrong, and truly, whenever the King says or does anything contrary to law or justice, ... it’s never to be supposed the King says or does it, but they are the words and actions of his counsellors. I will no more therefore look upon this speech as the King’s but turn my eyes and yours upon the counsellors. Pray see what they have made the King speak: he tells you he cannot advance one step without £600,000. They make the King tell you in effect that without £600,000, he is incapable of executing his office which is to protect his people.

Shaftesbury originally marked Vaughan ‘doubly worthy’, changing it to ‘vile’ when he resisted the argument that the long prorogation had automatically dissolved the Parliament. In other matters he continued to act as a moderate member of the country party. He took part in a conference on alliances, and helped to draw up two addresses. In the first session of 1678, he was among those named to draw up the address for immediate war with France, and to summarize foreign commitments. ‘We stand still because we have no light,’ Vaughan declared on 27 May. ‘If we have war ’tis a madness to disband the army, and if we have none, as much to keep them.’ During the summer session Vaughan served on the committee to examine arrears due to the forces to be disbanded, and helped to manage a conference on the refusal of France to make peace until Swedish possessions were returned, and to draw up reasons on disbandment.5

In the last session of the Cavalier Parliament, Vaughan served on several committees concerned with the Popish Plot. He was among those named to prepare articles of impeachment against Lord Arundell of Wardour, addresses for rewarding informers and for raising the militia, and reasons for excluding the Duke of York from Parliament. It was inevitable that he should also support the attack on Lord Treasurer Danby. He was appointed to the committees to prepare his impeachment and to examine the engrossed articles. On 21 Dec. he declared:

As nothing can flow from the Crown that is unjust, so nothing that is unsafe. At the same time that you are raising an army for a French war, here is one treating with the French for money for a peace and contriving to lay aside the Parliament for three years; and this is the present case before you.6

Despite illness, Vaughan was an active Member of the first Exclusion Parliament. He may have served on 28 committees and made 31 speeches. He was marked ‘worthy’ on Shaftesbury’s list. On 20 Mar. he was appointed to the committee of secrecy to investigate the plot. He took a prominent part in the proceedings against Danby, insisting particularly on the unwisdom of the pardon. In the debate of 22 Mar. he declared:

I will say nothing to the legality or illegality of the pardon, but whether on such an occasion this pardon can be just. When a pardon is destructive to the people, it cannot be. ... When men grow too big for the laws you can call them to account, else they will triumph over the King’s justice and yours too. ... If he must have his pardon let it be laden with all the notorious crimes.

In preparing for a conference with the Lords, he said:

What we go to confer about is not ours or the Lords’ right as to pardon, but the right of the kingdom. All the traitors in England may get away at this rate. I would therefore send to the Lords to demand justice against the Earl of Danby.

He was among those named to draw up the bill of attainder. He served on the committees for the bills to extend habeas corpus and to expedite the conviction of recusants. On 8 Apr. he reported an address for the immediate trial of a lawyer accused of attempting to stifle the discovery of the Plot. He was among those appointed to the committee to consider the Lords’ amendments on habeas corpus, and to the joint committee for the trial of the lords in the Tower. In the exclusion debate he declared ‘by the authority of fair precedents’ that the Duke of York might be set aside by Act of Parliament. But he had reservations about the practical wisdom of exclusion, for in the same speech he argued that

At this time to proceed to this vote will make the duke discard all his loyalty and love to his country and proceed to nothing but vengeance.

Nevertheless he was appointed to the committee to bring in the first exclusion bill. He also helped to prepare an address promising revenge on the Papists if the King were to meet a violent death. His patent as lord of the Admiralty passed three days later, but whether this affected his politics is uncertain. According to Morrice he voted for exclusion, but he is included in the state papers, where he may have been confused with Edward Vaughan III, among those who opposed the bill. Vaughan resigned from the Admiralty in January 1680, pleading ill-health, ‘being, though a young man, much troubled with the gout and other infirmities, as the stone’; but a more probable reason was his attitude to the succession generally, and the rumour that James was to return as lord admiral.7

Vaughan was less active in the second Exclusion Parliament, in which he was named to no more than six committees, including those to prepare evidence against the lords in the Tower and to draw up an address on Tangier. He made five speeches, declaring on 20 Dec. that without the exclusion bill ‘we can have no possibility of quiet’. Shortly before the dissolution, he served on the committee to search for precedents for committal of persons under impeachment. In the Oxford Parliament he was probably appointed to four committees, including those to impeach Fitzharris and to draw up the third exclusion bill. In his only speech, he asserted that a regency for the Duke of York would require a far larger army than exclusion, which he favoured ‘because all men are for it, and have sent up the same Parliament again’. Nevertheless, he was appointed deputy lieutenant of Cardiganshire in July 1683. On his death on 15 Feb. 1684, Sir Edward Dering described him as ‘a gentleman of excellent parts and very considerable speaker in the Parliament’. Burnet accused him of ‘much Welsh pride’; yet he was ‘a man of great integrity’, and one of those who ‘preserved the nation from a very deceitful and practising Court, and from a corrupt House of Commons’. He is not known to have practised as a lawyer, though he edited his father’s Reports. His son was narrowly defeated for Cardiganshire in 1689, but sat for the county from 1694 to 1698, and was given an Irish peerage as Viscount Lisburne.8

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: Leonard Naylor / Geoffrey Jaggar


  • 1. Dering Pprs. 209; DWB; Cal. Crosswood Deeds ed. Green, 91; PCC 49 Hare.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. iv. 659.
  • 3. Grey, i. 158, 169, 228, 268; CJ, ix. 148, 225, 233, 235.
  • 4. E. C. Legh, Lady Newton, Lyme Letters, 52; Grey, ii. 21, 65; iii. 128; CJ, ix. 352, 372, 375.
  • 5. Grey, iv. 90, 122; vi. 20; CJ, ix. 398, 406, 424, 454, 502, 504; Eg. 3345, f. 62.
  • 6. CJ, ix. 541, 543; Grey, vi. 374.
  • 7. CJ, ix. 589, 620; Grey, vii. 30, 44; Dering, diary and account bk. 15 Feb. 1684.
  • 8. Grey, vii. 251-2; viii. 198-9, 327-8; Dering, 15 Feb. 1684; Hatton Corresp. (Cam. Soc. n.s. xxii), 221; HMC Ormonde, n.s. iv. 578; Burnet, ii. 92-93.