Benjamin Vaughan

1751 - 1835

Claimant or beneficiary


Son of Samuel Vaughan (1720-1802) (q.v.) and Sarah, daughter of Benjamin Hallowell of Boston. Born in Jamaica, Benjamin Vaughan was educated in Britain at Warrington Academy under Joseph Priestley (see ODNB), and then at Cambridge. His religion meant he was unable to graduate from university and instead he began studying law and medicine in Edinburgh in preparation for marriage in 1781 to Sarah, daughter of William Coventry Manning. Benjamin Vaughan subsequently joined his brother-in-law William Manning (father of Cardinal Henry Manning) as a partner in his West Indian merchant house. Benjamin did not remain in the business for long, instead turning to politics in the 1780s. He was a member of the Society for Constitutional Information and a keen supporter of the American cause. Close association with Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Horne gained him an introduction to Lord Shelburne, who dispatched him as an unofficial emissary to the Paris peace negotiations in 1782. In 1790 he was in Paris for 14th July celebrations and was an active supporter of the French Revolution in London.

He was elected to Parliament as M.P. for Calne in 1792 and held the seat until 1796. In his maiden speech he introduced himself as 'connected with the West Indies by birth, profession and private fortune'. An advocate for amelioration, he nonetheless vehemently opposed abolition and emancipation, exclaiming that it would bring an end to civilization in Jamaica. Throughout his time in Parliament he was a fierce defender of the West India interest, as well as a champion of the French revolution. His revolutionary sympathies led to him being formally questioned over a plot to support a French invasion and he subsequently fled London for Paris. After being imprisoned on suspicion of being an English spy he moved to Geneva, before sailing to the US in 1795, reportedly possessed of a fortune estimated at £100,000. He remained in the United States for the rest of his life, settling in Hallowell Maine, where he pursued interests in science, agriculture and philosophy.

His marriage to Sarah Manning produced seven children: Harriet (1782-1798); William Oliver (1783-1826); Sarah (1784-1847); Henry (1786-1806); Petty (1788-1854); Lucy (1790-1869); and Elizabeth Frances (1793-1855). Petty Vaughan (q.v.) became a London based West India merchant, whilst Benjamin's brothers William and Charles were also West India merchants. Another brother John was a Philadelphia based merchant who collaborated closely with the London firm of Samuel Vaughan and Sons, and the brother Samuel Vaughan Jnr. was a Jamaica planter (all q.v.). Along with his brothers and mother he was appointed trustee and executor to his father's will.


VAUGHAN, Benjamin (1751-1835), of Finsbury Square, London, History of Parliament,

See also Ian John Barrett, The culture of pro-slavery: the political defence of the slave trade in Britain c. 1787 to 1807 (Unpublished PhD thesis, King's College London, 2010).

We are grateful to Michael Baron for his assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information

Sarah Manning
Politician and merchant

Associated Claims (1)

£4,870 2S 7D

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Name partner
Manning & Anderdon
West India merchant  

Political (1)

election →
Calne Wiltshire
1782 - 1796

Relationships (9)

Father → Son
Son → Father
Executor → Testator
Trustee → Testator

Addresses (1)

United States of America