Richard Vaughan, 2nd Earl of Carbery, c.1600-86

Reluctant Royalist commander in south-west Wales, he lost the whole of his command to the Parliamentarians.

Portrait of Richard Vaughan, Earl of CarberyRichard Vaughan was the eldest and only surviving son of John Vaughan of Golden Grove in Carmarthenshire, who became first Earl of Carbery in the Irish peerage in 1628. Richard was knighted at the coronation of Charles I and inherited the earldom of Carbery on the death of his father in 1634.

Carbery was the most powerful nobleman in south-west Wales but took little interest in national politics. When civil war broke out in 1642, both King and Parliament tried to commission him. Eventually, he sided with the King and raised a regiment which was sent to join the Oxford army in January 1643. Carbery was appointed lieutenant-general of Royalist forces in Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire in April 1643 and ordered to secure south-west Wales for the King. However, Carbery allowed an informal truce to prevail in the region and made no move to threaten the Parliamentarian enclave in Pembrokeshire.

Carbery's region became strategically significant in September 1643. The signing of the Cessation of Arms allowed soldiers stationed in Ireland to return to England to fight for the King, and the seaports of south-west Wales were potential landing places for the returning troops. Carbery used diplomacy to gain control of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Pembroke by persuading local gentry and town corporations to issue declarations of loyalty to the King. He was rewarded with an English peerage (Baron Vaughan of Emlyn) and the governorship of Milford Haven, but towards the end of 1643, John Poyer declared for Parliament in Pembroke.

In January 1644, Carbery deployed the Welsh militia to blockade Pembroke and proceeded to build an artillery fort at Pill to dominate Milford Haven. However, the Parliamentarian commander in Pembrokeshire Rowland Laugharne co-operated with Captain Swanley's naval squadron to raid Carbery's garrisons around Pembroke. On 24 February, Laugharne seized the fort at Pill, which caused the Royalists to evacuate Haverfordwest. Early in March, Laugharne and Swanley stormed and captured Tenby. By the end of March, Laugharne controlled the whole of Pembrokeshire. The following month, he advanced into Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire, which surrendered without resistance. Having lost the whole of his command to the Parliamentarians, Lord Carbery was recalled to Oxford.

Obliged to surrender his military commission, Carbery retired to his estate at Golden Grove where he remained for the rest of the war. In 1645, Parliament imposed a fine of £4,500 on him for delinquency but Laugharne intervened on Carbery's behalf and the fine was remitted. He played no part in the pro-Royalist uprising of 1648 and lived quietly throughout the Interregnum. The noted Anglican divine Jeremy Taylor took refuge at Golden Grove as Carbery's chaplain and dedicated a number of works to him.

At the Restoration, Carbery was appointed President of the Council of Wales and the Marches in recognition of his status as the leading Welsh peer and of his services as a Royalist leader during the civil war. He employed Samuel Butler as his secretary and steward at Ludlow Castle, where the first part of Hudibras is said to have been composed. Carbery was dismissed from the presidency of Wales in 1672 after charges were brought against him of ill-treating his servants and tenants on his estate at Dryslwyn. He died in December 1686.

Carbery married three times. His first wife, Bridget Lloyd, died before 1637. His second wife, Frances Altham (d.1650), was the mother of his two sons, Francis (d.1667) and John (c.1639-1713) who succeeded him as third Earl of Carbery. His third marriage was to Lady Alice Egerton (d.1689), the youngest daughter of John Egerton, first Earl of Bridgwater.


Ronald Hutton, The Royalist War Effort 1642-46, (London 1999)

Ronald Hutton, Richard Vaughan, second earl of Carbery (1600?-1686), Oxford DNB, 2004

Sir James Frederick Rees, Richard Vaughan (1600?-1686), Welsh Biography Online