Henry Vaughan (1809 – 1899)

Henry Vaughan (1809 - 1899)

A donation of Captain Cook items to the newly opened Albert Memorial Museum

On 6 August 1868, Exeter’s newly constructed Albert Memorial Museum received a donation of ethnographic artefacts from H. Vaughan of 28, Cumberland Terrace, Regents Park. The donor was Henry Vaughan, a reclusive art collector, who, at the age of 21, inherited a substantial fortune from his late father and uncle and thereafter devoted his life to collecting art. The family’s wealth derived from inherited property and a successful hat manufacturing business in Southwark and Gloucestershire.

Henry Vaughan. Courtesy of the Southwark Art Collection. GA1219

Henry Vaughan. Courtesy of the Southwark Art Collection. GA1219

The museum accession register entry states

“The specimens presented by H. Vaughan Esq. of 28 Cumberland Terrace, Regent’s Park London have been in his family for 50 years and are supposed to have been of New Zealand origin.”

However, research by Adrienne Kaeppler identified six of the objects as having been exhibited in the Leverian Museum, Sir Ashton Lever‘s private museum in Leicester Square. These were identified from the watercolour paintings of Sarah Stone, made before 1783, and from annotated copies of the auction catalogue recording many of the buyer’s names. This early provenance indicates these items were collected on the second or third voyages of Captain James Cook. The entire Leverian collection was sold by lottery in 1786 and won by James Parkinson who, in 1787, moved the collection to a new purpose-built premises in Albion Square at the south end of Blackfriars Bridge.

This was only a short walk from the Vaughan home and factory. George Vaughan II [1] and his brother, Isaac, must both have been very familiar with the Leverian Museum. At the time of the King and Lochee auction of its contents on the premises in 1806, they were both men in their fifties of considerable wealth and they are the most likely contenders for the identity of the Vaughan or Vaughans listed as the buyer or buyers for some 80 lots over the 65 days of the sale.

The Vaughan name was recorded in different ways in the known annotated catalogues. Henry Cuming, in his alphabetical list of buyers at the end of the catalogue, lists Revd. Vaughan [1a]. Next to some of the lots he wrote the name as T. Vaughan. In Humphrey’s copy of the catalogue (reprinted by John Hewett in 1979) it is Vaughan in his alphabetical list, and Vaughan or J Vaughan next to the lots [2]. The background to the Vaughan’s fortune provides some like contenders for the identity of the buyer(s) at the sale.

A page from the 1868 Albert Memorial Museum register which records the Vaughan donation.

Who were the Vaughan’s

Henry’s grandfather, George Vaughan I (1716 – 1780), married Elizabeth King at St. Thomas’ Church, Southwark in 1742. After her marriage, Elizabeth inherited several properties in or near Gravel Lane, including the late 17th century mansion at 11 Gravel lane on the corner of Charlotte Street in the parish of Christ Church, Southwark. This was to be the family’s home [3].

George founded the Vaughan’s hat making business at least as early as 1749 when it is recorded in the fur sales records of the Hudson Bay Company [4]. The Vaughan’s warehouse and manufactory were located next door to their home in Gravel Lane. By 1790, the business employed over 86 men in London [5]. During the course of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Vaughans worked in partnership with various other hat manufacturing families including Collinson, Walls, Plank and James. [6]

George I and Elizabeth Vaughan had 13 children, only 5 of whom survived beyond infancy [7]; Isaac (1748-1825); Elizabeth (born 1752); George (1755-1828); Mary (born 1761) and Sarah (1761-1850) [8]. George and Isaac both worked in their father’s hat business living in the Gravel Lane home. In the early 19th century, probably about 1808, they expanded the business and opened a factory in Gloucestershire [9]. Isaac later moved to nearby Great Surrey Street (later called Blackfriars Road). He served as churchwarden at the local Christ Church, and both he and his brother George were governors for life of the Humane Society. His rising social status is indicated by his appointment as a Deputy Lieutenant for Surrey. He died unmarried in 1825 leaving a substantial fortune and several properties to his brother and three sisters and to his several nephews and a niece [10].

“Old house in Gravel Lane Southwark residence of Mr Vaughan Hatter”, by Edward Hassell, 1824. London Metropolitan Archives

George Vaughan II married Mary Bunn in 1785. She died without issues at the age of 31 in 1786. His second marriage to Eliabeth Andrews produced seven children of whom three survived beyond infancy; George Vaughan III (1799-1874); Mary (1806-1865) and Henry (1809-1899).

Vaughan II retired from the business on Christmas Day 1825, leaving it in the hands of his son, George III, and his son’s partner Richard James. In his will, he leaves an option to his son, Henry, to take up a share in the business on attaining the age of 21. Henry appears to have declined the option, and instead devoted his life to collecting art. George Vaughan II died in 1828, and in the early 1830s, probably in 1834, his widow Elizabeth, together with her two sons, George and Henry, and her daughter, Mary, moved to Cumberland Terrace, the grandest of John Nash’s recently built built mansions in Regent’s Park [11].

Here they lived a life appropriate to their wealth and social standing. George Vaughan III was elected a fellow of the Geological Society of London in 1835. He already appeared in a list of the fellows of the Zoological Society in 1831.

Leaving Southwark 

Their Southwark home, adjoining their factory, would have become an inappropriate residence for a family of such substantial wealth and status. Southwark was a poor area with slums, workhouses, prisons and the nearby Bedlam hospital. The development of the railways would soon also have a dramatic effect on the Vaughan’s former neighbourhood and their once magnificent family home would find itself at the junction of the South-Eastern Railway from Charing Cross and the London, Chatham and Dover Railway from Blackfriars. When Thomas Hosmer Shephard painted the Vaughan’s former residence in 1852 as part of a project commissioned Frederick Crace to record London’s disappearing historic buildings, it was no longer a family residence but was described as

“The mansion of the late G. Vaughan now a Hat manufactory.”

In 1861, the London Chatham and Dover Railway Company purchased from George Vaughan the Church Street Baptist Chapel and the adjoining houses. By 1866, the encroachment of the railways can be clearly seen in an 1866 watercolour by Frederick (held by the London Metropolitan Archive), showing the house during its demolition. It had, by this time, acquired a reputation as a haunted house [12]. The property was sold at auction on 27 February 1866 by Messrs Vigers. A part of the land on which the warehouse was situated on Charlotte Street had already been given up to the local parish to enable them to widen the road.

The property was demolished later that same year and the site later acquired by “Mrs Vaughan’s Charity” founded by Mary Sancton (daughter of George Vaughan II) in memory of her mother with a bequest on her death of £25,000 [13]. In 1867, almshouses were built by the charity on the former site of the Vaughan residence.

In 1852, Elizabeth Vaughan died and two years later her son, George Vaughan III, at the age of 54, married Elizabeth, the widow of Charles Barron. At the time of the marriage, both gave addresses in Westbourne Terrace as their residences. Elizabeth Barron also appears to have had a home in Brighton, and she and George Vaughan III continued to maintain a home there after their marriage. Mary Vaughan, sister of George Vaughan III and Henry, was married in the same year to Phillip Sancton. George Vaughan III died in 1874 and his widow, Elizabeth, in 1884. In her will she bequeathed a number of paintings to the National Gallery by British artists including five landscapes by Patrick Nasmyth and a landscape by Turner. It seems probable that these were from her late husband and perhaps for this reason they were not left to the sons of her previous marriage to Barron. George Vaughan III appears to have been a collector of art. In 1859, he lent at least one work to the Manchester Exhibition of Art Treasures of the United Kingdom, and in 1869 he lent prints by Durer and Lucas van Leyden to the Burlington Fine Arts Club, the organisation in which his brother was a leading light.

About Henry Vaughan

Henry Vaughan never married and remained at the Cumberland Terrace home becoming something of a recluse and devoting himself to collecting art, especially the works of Turner, Constable and other British artists [14]. In 1849, he was elected a member of the Athenaeum Club and in 1879 a Fellow of the Society of Arts. He was a founder member of the Burlington Fine Arts Club, and contributed frequently to its exhibitions. In 1866, Henry Vaughan offered to the National Gallery Constable’s ‘Hay Wain’ (NG1207), requesting that his name should not appear on the label during his lifetime. In the following year, he donated a group of drawings by Michelangelo to the British Museum. When he died in 1899, he bequeathed his entire collection to public institutions. Oil paintings and sketches by Constable and Turner’s drawings for the Liber Studiorum were left to the National Gallery of British Art (Tate). Sculpture, stained glass, two paintings by Constable and six drawings by Turner were left to the South Kensington Museum (the Victoria & Albert Museum). His large collection of Turner watercolours was divided between the National Gallery of Ireland and the Royal Institution for Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Edinburgh. The works were bequeathed along with specially made storage cabinets and the will stipulated that these works should be displayed

“all at one time free of charge during the month of January.”

The British Museum received his drawings and watercolours by British artists such as Flaxman and Stothard, and Old Master drawings by Watteau, Raphael, Rubens and others, and University College London received several prints, drawings and other works of art. Henry also bequeathed more than £100,000 to charities. He was buried not in his native Southwark alongside his parents and other descendants, but in a vault in Highgate cemetery.

George Vaughan III was only three at the time of the Leverian auction and Henry was not yet born. Henry was 15 at the time of his uncle’s death, and 19 when his father died, so it is not surprising then that he did not know, or had forgotten, the origin of the objects he’d presented to the Exeter museum in 1868.

However, what happened to the large group of natural history specimens. Vaughan’s donation included a lion bred in the Tower of London, and its whereabouts remains a mystery. Were those exotic species of birds and animals destined to be used as the raw materials for exotic hats? Was the albatross foot given to the museum along with other artefacts the only remaining vestige of possibly than 50 natural history lots purchased at the sale? Hopefully continued research will answer the question.


List of Vaughan’s 1868 Leverian sale/ Captain Cook items donation 

Accession number (and link to RAMM’s online collections database) Description Provenance Notes
E1205 Hardwood club Tonga World Cultures gallery
E1206 Hardwood club Tonga World Cultures gallery
E1207 Hardwood club Tonga Ethnography store
E1208 Hardwood club Tonga World Cultures gallery
E1209 Hardwood club Tonga Finders Keepers gallery
E1210 Hardwood club Tonga Ethnography store
E1211 Hardwood club (mushroom headed) Tonga Ethnography store
E1212 Hardwood club Tonga World Cultures gallery
E1213 Hardwood club (trefoil headed) Tonga Stolen from RAMM in 1912
E1214 Hardwood club (bird headed) New Caledonia Ethnography store
E1215 Food pounder (tuki) Tonga World Cultures gallery
E1216 Bifacial staff (u’a) Rapa Nui (Easter Island) World Cultures gallery
E1217 Hardwood club Tonga Ethnography store
E1218 Hardwood club (bird headed) New Caledonia Finders Keepers gallery
E1219 Greenstone club New Zealand Stolen from RAMM in 1912
E1220 Hardwood club (wahaika) New Zealand World Cultures gallery
E1221 Hardwood club (bird headed) New Caledonia Ethnography store
E1222 Whalebone club (chiltooth) North West Coast Canada World Cultures gallery
E1223 ‘slave killer’ whalebone club North West Coast Stolen from RAMM in 1912
E1224 Hafted adze Hawaii World Cultures gallry
E1225 Hafted adze (to’i) Tahiti Ethnography store
E1226 Shark tooth weapon or scarifier (palau papanihomano) Hawaii World Cultures gallery
E1227 Neck rest (kali) Tonga Ethnography store
E1228 Incising tool Tonga World Cultures gallery
E1229 Small saw fish snout (four specimens tied together) Unknown Inventory record only
E1230 Whale tooth cloak pin “one ivory crescent” Tonga Ethnography store
E1231 Whalebone cloak pin New Zealand World Cultures gallery
E1232 D-adze North West Coast Canada World Cultures gallery
E1233 Wood awl North West Coast Canada Ethnography store
E1234 Small knife North West Coast Ethnography store
E1235 Harpoon head and line North West Coast Ethnography store
E1278 (initially E1236) Boar tusk pendant Hawaii World Cultures gallery
E546 (initially E1237) Quiver Africa Ethnography store
E547 (initially E1238) Powder horn flask Africa Ethnography store
E548 (initially E1239) Shot pouch Africa Ethnography
E549 (initially E1240) Skin bag Africa According to accession book destroyed 30/10/1936
E1241 Albatross foot Unknown Inventory record



[1] The three generations of Vaughans each had a George, thus in the text they are referred to as George I, George II and George III to avoid confusion.

[1a] Could the listed Reverend Vaughan be the Reverend Vaughan of Torquay who also made a donation to RAMM? There is currently no evidence to connect the two.

[2] The initials T, I and J are written in a similar script in annotated copies of the Leverian sale catalogue and they are therefore open to interpretation.

[3] Elizabeth King was the granddaughter and heir of Isaac Adams. These inheritances include three Gravel Lane houses on 30/09/1747 as niece and heir of John Adams; a house and garden in Gravel Lane, and other house near Gravel Lane, as granddaughter of Isaac Adams; with George Vaughan on 24/11/1747, the ‘Summer House’ in Gravel Lane for life upon the death of Mary Adams (Bellewes, G.O., Surrey Archaeological Collection, 1915, Vol XXVIII, p.178 (Surrey Archaeological Society, Guildford). At the beginning of the 18th century, Christ Church was a village with less than 600 inhabitants (Christ Church, Surrey).

[4] Information supplied by Chris Heal to which this report is indebted and other information concerning the Vaughan’s hat making business.

[5] Woodfall’s register, 02/12/1790

[6] See Chris Heal’s paper ‘The Vaughan factory at Watley’s End: Vaughan & Collinson, & Walls, & Plank, & James’, and other papers (2009) for details of these links between hat making families.

[7] It is possible that this high mortality rate was connected to the use of highly toxic chemicals, such as mercury, in the hat manufacturing process, a danger later referenced in Lewis Carrol’s Mad Hatter character in Alice in Wonderland. However, not all the Vaughan children’s premature deaths were connected with such dangers. The ‘Obituary of remarkable persons – Bill of Mortality‘ in The Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Chronicle for the year 1806, vol. 73, part 1, p.94, records:

 “In great agonies, the only daughter of Mr. G. Vaughan, hatter, of Gravel Lane, Southwark. She was burnt in a most dreadful manner, in consequence of her cloaths catching fire. This child, who was only 8 years old, was left alone in the nursery when the accident happened; her cries brought up the maid-servant, who, in endeavouring to extinguish the flames, had both her arms very severely burnt.”

[8] The majority of the Vaughans were buried in Christ Church, Southwark, in a large table tomb described as the most imposing in the church (English Heritage, Survey of London, vol.22, 1950, pp.101-107). Numerous inscriptions commemorated several members of the Vaughan family from 1780 to 1852. The church was bombed and seriously damaged in 1941 and a new church built in 1958. Some of the Vaughan inscriptions survive on stones used to pave the churchyard.

[9] For a detailed discussion of the Vaughan’s expansion into Gloucestershire, see Chris Heal’s The Vaughan factory at Watley’s End; Vaughan & Collinson, & Walls, & Plank, & James.

[10] The legacies of Isaac Vaughan’s will include: to his brother George Vaughan half his warehouses, shops, ground buildings and premises in Gravel Lane (currently in George’s occupation) for his natural life and then to his nephews, George and Henry; to Mary Vaughan, his niece, his freehold estate in Great Charlotte Street, consisting of six houses; to George Vaughan, his nephew, his freehold estate in Lower Tooting consisting of a dwelling house, coach house and grounds, currently in the occupation of Mr Briggs under a lease also a freehold estate in in Lower Tooting consisting of land purchased by me from Mr George Cocks abutting on the high road leading from London to Mitcham; to Henry a freehold estate in Lower Tooting consisting of a dwelling coach house and grounds in the occupation of Mr Pearson. Also several houses and premises in George Street in the parish of Christ Church; to his two nephews John Jackson and James Jackson, sons of his sister Sarah Jackson, a freehold estate in Dowgate Wharf, Upper Thames Street in the City of London, consisting of a Wharf warehouse and premises now in the occupation of the said John Jackson the younger and James Jackson; dividends from £2000 stock to his sister Elizabeth Rabone wife of Mr Joseph Rabone of Birmingham, the stock to revert to Isaac’s estate on her death; a further sum of £2000 stock to Philip Jackson, another son of my said sister Sarah Jackson; £4000 stock four per cent bank annuities dividends and interest to his sister Mary Ovey wife of Mr Richard Ovey of Tavistock Street, Covent Garden and their children; £5000 to his sister Sarah Jackson, wife of Mr John Jackson of Dowgate Wharf and her daughters; £1000 to his nephew William Jackson, another son of the said sister Sarah Jackson; £1000 to his nephew Edward Jackson, another son of my said sister Sarah Jackson; £500 each to be given to John Jackson the younger and James Jackson as soon as possible after his decrease. The remainder of his estate to be shared equally between his nephews George Vaughan and Henry Vaughan.

[11] The large house in Cumberland Terrace seems to have been home to various members of the family at different times. George Vaughan seems to have lived in both Cumberland Terrace and also at his own house in Westbourne Terrace. In 1833, he was recorded in the Report for the Year of the Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital as living at 88 Westbourne Terrace. In 1835, in the Proceedings of the Geological Society of London, his address was listed as Cumberland Terrace. He was also recorded there on the 1840 and 1841 electoral registers. In 1851, a conveyancing document in the National Archives connected with his role as executor of Felix Booth(of Booth’s gin fame) lists him as living at Cumberland Terrace. His 1854 marriage record shows him living at 91 Westbourne Terrace and his wife, the widowed Elizabeth Barron, at 88 Westbourne Terrace. Phillip Sancton, who married Mary Vaughan in 1854, was also listed as residing at 28 Cumberland Terrace, along with the 1861 census and upon his death in 1886.

[12] see Haunted Houses by Edwin F. Roberts, in Reynold’s Miscellany, December 15, 1863. The Meklethwaites who the author claims were the last occupants of the house, appear to have been fictitious.

[13] Mary Sancton, by her will date 6 June 1863, bequeathed £25,000 in trust to pay a weekly allowance to 24 poor women of 60 years and over dwelling in the parish of Christ Church; the gift to be known as “Mrs. Vaughan’s Charity” in memory of her mother. Henry Vaughan, who was appointed one of the first trustees, subsequently founded almshouses in Gravel Lane, designed by Gilbert Scott, for the recipients of the charity. A condition of being offered a charity-run almshouse was that potential residents had to attend either at the Surrey Chapel or Christchurch. As a result, those hoping to be offered an almshouse attended at the one which held the right of nomination for the next vacancy, as they were in the main “impartial as between Church and Chapel.” The almswomen were removed circa 1907 to Feltham Hill Road, Ashford, Middlesex.

[14] A portrait of Henry Vaughan at the end of his life is given by his friend, Frederick Wedmore, in Memories (London, 1912, pp.79-82):

“Henry Vaughan – a second link with the Past, and some of it of extreme remoteness – was the man, who though not exactly the founder, may be described as in all his later years the ‘Father’ of the Burlington Fine Arts Club – Henry Vaughan, the collector and connoisseur who lived, very lonely, in Cumberland Terrace – who gave during his lifetime Constable’s ‘Hay Wain’ to the National Gallery. He was a connoisseur in age as much as in his leisurely youth or middle years: perhaps indeed more delicate than ever in his judgements, even if a little old-fashioned, when I knew him well, in his long later days. A collector than scarcely at all; a colelctor rather in the days of ‘Mr.’ Turner, ‘Mr.’ Cox, ‘Mr.’ Fielding and ‘Mr.’ de Wint. He visited Turner more than once, I should suppose; but undoubtedly once, in the house in Queen Anne Street which now bears the tablet of the Society of Arts. His recollections of the painter were agreeable, but not perhaps very distinctive; I fear they will not bear re-telling – they are too weakly in my mind; but the impression Turner gave him was certainly a pleasant one.

“Constable, Vaughan can hardly have known, but he knew and had great regard for the work of Constable’s biographer, Leslie; and he knew Constable’s daughters, who lived in Hamilton Terrace – across the Regent’s Park from his house – and he very kindly sent me there to them when I was writing on Constable for the French magazine, L’Art. I remember to this day, happily, the genial sunshine of Isabel Constable’s presence. In it one basked. She was as delightful in her age as must have been in yer youth, when, to her qualities as a girl and a daughter, dutiful and sweet, the great, saddened painter paid fatherly and willing tribute.

“In Henry Vaughan, more than ninety years old when he departed, I had a friend who was actually a little in touch with Coleridge. But Vaughan’s references to ‘Mr.’ Coleridge were, to tell the truth, never quite satisfactory. He went, he has told me, with two or three others who happened to know Mr. Gillman of Highgate, to the abode of the surgeon – in the later years of Coleridge’s residence with him. Mr. Vaughan’s reverence for great Literature was, I fancy, by no means on a par with his reverence for great pictorial Art; and I gather that he took it rather ill on going to tea with Mr. Coleridge ‘Mr. Coleridge talked all the time.’ That was all he remembered.

Speaking to Vaughan one day, about the Stage, I recollect asking him – when the great actor had been thirty years before the London public – ‘Have you ever seen Henry Irving?’ vaughan paused for a moment; gave a tranquil smile – as if the contingency was improbably. I must have seemed very young to him, to put the query at all. ‘No’ – he said, at last – ‘I have never seen that gentleman. I have seen Mrs’ Siddons – driving round the Regent’s Park.

“Partly with a view to exercise and health, and partly with a view to monetary prudence – the prudence of the old when they are also the rich – the excellent Henry Vaughan was, almost until the last, accustomed to walk home – and entirely unaccompanied – from the brightness of the West End streets into the distant vastness and the gloom of the Park in which he had beheld Mrs. Siddons. He held that Cumberland Terrace – notwithstanding its Art treasures – was not a place in which he could dine cheerfully. Three times a week he dined at the Athenaeum – three times a week in the somewhat different decor of the Blue Posts in Cork Street. To Henry Vaughan, one of the attractions of that distinguished tavern was its nearness to the Burlington Fine Arts Club. Eminently creditable. Another was its saddle of mutton – which was of peculiar tenderness. he knew the days of the week when the saddle would be forthcoming, and those were the days on which the Athenaeum was without attractions for him. Then, on the Sunday, he would sup, penitently, at home.”