Birthplace: Newton St. Briget, Brecknockshire, Wales
Location of death: Albury, Surrey, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: English alchemist and mystic
English alchemist and mystic, the younger twin brother of Henry Vaughan, the "Silurist." He matriculated from Jesus College, Oxford, in 1638, took his B.A. degree in 1642, and became fellow of his college. He remained for some years at Oxford, but also held the living of his native parish of Llansantfread from 1640 until 1649, when he was ejected, under the Act for the Propagation of the Gospel in Wales, upon charges of drunkenness, immorality and bearing arms for the king. Subsequently he lived at his brother's farm of Newton and in various parts of London, and studied alchemy and kindred subjects. He married in 1651 and lost his wife in 1658. After the Restoration he found a patron in Sir Robert Murray, with whom he fled from London to Oxford during the plague of 1665. He appears to have had some employment of state, but he continued his favorite studies and actually died of the fumes of mercury at the house of Samuel Kem at Albury on the 27th of February 1666.
Vaughan regarded himself as a philosopher of nature, and although he certainly sought the universal solvent, his published writings deal rather with magic and mysticism than with technical alchemy. They also contain much controversy with Henry More the Platonist. Vaughan was called a Rosicrucian, but denied the imputation. He wrote or translated Anthroposophia Theomagica (1630); Anima Magica Abscondita (1650); Magia Adamica and (1650); The Man-Mouse taken in a Trap (1650); The Second Wash; or the Moor Scoured once more (1651); Lumen de Lumine and Aphorisimi Magici Eugeniani (1651); The Fame and Confession of the Fraternity of R.C. (1652); Aula Lucis (1652); Euphrates (1655); Nollius' Chymist's Key (1657); A Brief Natural History (1669). Most of these pamphlets appeared under the pseudonym of Eugenius Philalethes. Vaughan was probably, although it is by no means certain, not the famous adept known as Eirenaeus Philalethes, who was alleged to have found the philosopher's stone in America, and to whom the Introitus Apertus in Occlusum Regis Palatium (1667) and other writings are ascribed. In 1896 Vaughan was the subject of an amazing mystification in the Mémoires d'une ex-Palladiste. These formed part of certain alleged revelations as to the practice of devil-worship by the initiates of freemasonry. The author, whose name was given as Diana Vaughan, claimed to be a descendant of Thomas and to possess family papers which showed amongst other marvels that he had made a pact with Lucifer, and had helped to found freemasonry as a Satanic society. The inventors of the hoax, which took in many eminent Catholic ecclesiastics, were some unscrupulous Paris journalists.
The Magical Writings of Thomas Vaughan were edited by A. E. Waite in 1888. His miscellaneous Latin and English verses are included in vol. II of A. B. Grosart's Fuller Worthies Library edition of the Works of Henry Vaughan (1871). A manuscript book of his, with alchemical and autobiographical jottings made between 1658 and 1662, forms Brit. Mus. Sloane MS. 1741.
Brother: Henry Vaughan (his twin, poet, b. 1622, d. 1695)
Wife: (m. 1651, d. 1658)
University: BA, Jesus College, Oxford University (1642)
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