Monday, January 19, 2015

Tombs Filled with Stars!


I come up for air from being deeply immersed in family history this weekend. Since I'm reading about King Richard III (The Sunne in Splendor, by Sharon Kay Penman) and I keep running into my family as I decided to work down from the Vaughans who originated my surname. I have a valid link up through some maternal lines, but the paternal is difficult with many illegitimacies and non-heir sons.

Sir Thomas Vaughan
It is actually the illegitimates who seem to be more adventurous such as Sir Thomas Vaughan (1432-1483), one of the guardians of the Princes just before they were in the Tower (and never came out). And, yeah, he's the one in Shakespeare's Richard III who loses his head at the chopping block because he was protecting the Princes. He reappears on Bosworth Field as a ghostly apparition to the doomed Richard. And that's pretty cool to think of my old cousin appearing as a ghost in every production of R.III since Shakespeare wrote it up. My Cousin Sir Thomas is even buried in Westminster Abbey and I didn't even know it when I was there! Now I have to go back!

Cross of the Knights of
the Holy Sepulchre
And I even found out how the "Jones" name came to be, at least in one illegitimate example. Another distant cousin was an illegitimate son of one John Vaughan and took the name Hugh Johneys, which, you can sort of see twisted around, would be "Johney's Hugh." "Johneys" was shortened to "Jones" and there you have it (except I'm not at all suggesting that all Joneses are illegitimate!) My cousin Hugh Johneys was made a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in 1441. Another cool thing!

And it is crazy with families that keep naming each other Thomas, John, Watkin (yes), or Roger. I'm generally following the National Library of Wales Dictionary of Welsh Biography, then looking for confirming sources on (I have to wade through a lot of people's flags and pictures of Tretower Castle (Thank you, I have my own).
I thought of this great little ditty:
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone
They paved Richard Third
Put up a parking lot!
More seriously, my hopeful goal, because I didn't actually think I would come down the Vaughan line and find me, was that I would at least have a solid connection established to the poet I have oft quoted, Henry Vaughan, the Silurist (1621-1695). He shares my surname, love of history, and apparently part of my soul as some of his poetry touches me so deeply. 

Well, late last night, I got down to him and his twin brother, Thomas, the Alchemist, whose wife, Rebecca, shared in his mystical experiments and studies. It was so difficult holding on to each line in complex genealogies to get it all straight. And there are some errors even in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Welsh sources are best. I even found some scanned letters in Henry's own hand on-line! Someone, perhaps an English Literature student or Prof at the BYU, had gone in and done Temple work for Henry, but I was getting enough to put it all in shape with best sources, etc. (Hey, he's my 6th Cousin, 11x removed - searching out cousins, right?) And just as I clicked on the little green and blue temples to reserve the work, I came across this poem of Henry's I hadn't read before. 

My whole body was tingling and my tears streamed:

They are all Gone into the World of Light

They are all gone into the world of light!
       And I alone sit ling’ring here;
Their very memory is fair and bright,
       And my sad thoughts doth clear.

It glows and glitters in my cloudy breast,
       Like stars upon some gloomy grove,
Or those faint beams in which this hill is drest,
       After the sun’s remove.

I see them walking in an air of glory,
       Whose light doth trample on my days:
My days, which are at best but dull and hoary,
       Mere glimmering and decays.

O holy Hope! and high Humility,
       High as the heavens above!
These are your walks, and you have show’d them me
       To kindle my cold love.

Dear, beauteous Death! the jewel of the just,
       Shining nowhere, but in the dark;
What mysteries do lie beyond thy dust
       Could man outlook that mark!

He that hath found some fledg’d bird’s nest, may know
       At first sight, if the bird be flown;
But what fair well or grove he sings in now,
       That is to him unknown.

And yet as angels in some brighter dreams
       Call to the soul, when man doth sleep:
So some strange thoughts transcend our wonted themes
       And into glory peep.

If a star were confin’d into a tomb,
       Her captive flames must needs burn there;
But when the hand that lock’d her up, gives room,
       She’ll shine through all the sphere.

O Father of eternal life, and all
       Created glories under thee!
Resume thy spirit from this world of thrall
       Into true liberty.

Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill
       My perspective still as they pass,
Or else remove me hence unto that hill,
       Where I shall need no glass.

Now, I cannot in modern words better express a witness of my Faith and Hope and Humility that the deeper physics of the Universe will have sway and we will resurrect through the power of Christ's Priesthood, He as our High Priest. I want to be a part of that. If gospel and priesthood ordinances must come upon all, and they will eventually, I feel a glint of that star burning inside that I want to do as much as I can now. I do so want to meet Henry.


  1. Okay. Not sure if my last comment posted, so I'm writing it again. Is there an e-mail address at which you can be contacted? I am a Vaughan through my paternal line but have not been able to reliably trace my branch of the family beyond our arrival in America, which happened a very long time ago and for which records are scarce. I would love to compare notes with you and see if maybe you can shed some light on where our line links up with the Welsh Vaughans.

    1. sure. my email is grant[dot]vaughn[at]gmail[dot]com. I you have access to, my tree is public as "GLVaughn Family Tree."


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