Henry Vaughan

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Henry Vaughan (April 17, 1622 − April 23, 1695) was a Welsh physician and metaphysical poet.

Vaughan and his twin brother the hermetic philosopher and alchemist Thomas Vaughan, were the sons of Thomas Vaughan and Denise Morgan[1] of 'Trenewydd', Newton, in Brecknockshire, Wales.[2]

Vaughan spent most of his life in the village of Llansantffraed, near Brecon, where he is also buried.


Early life

Both Henry and his twin Thomas were schooled locally by the rector of Llangattock (Crickhowell), the Rev. Matthew Herbert. This occupied six years preceding their attendance at Jesus College, Oxford, England in 1638.[3]: s9, p.21 However, around 1640, Vaughan's family influenced him to pursue a career in law[4]:p39 to the abandonment of an Oxford degree.

As the Civil War developed, he was recalled home from London, initially to serve as a secretary to Sir Marmaduke Lloyd, a chief justice on the Brecknockshire circuit and staunch royalist. Military service interrupted his study of the law and, upon his return, Vaughan began to practise medicine. By 1646, he had married Catherine Wise with whom he reared a son, Thomas, and three daughters, Lucy, Frances, and Catherine. After his first wife's death, he married her sister, Elizabeth.[5]

Secular works

Vaughan took his literary inspiration from his native environment and chose the descriptive name "Silurist," derived from his homage to the Silures, the Celtic tribe of pre-Roman south Wales which strongly resisted the Romans. This name is a reflection of the deep love Vaughan felt towards the Welsh mountains of his home in what is now part of the Brecon Beacons National Park and the River Usk valley where he spent most of his early life and professional life.

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