Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: May 08, 2021
Webpage updated: May 08, 2021




Mr William Vaughan was born in London on February 14th 1814.

He came from a strong Catholic family and was educated at Prior Park College, from where he was withdrawn in 1846 in order to go to Bristol.  It was while there that Bishop Hendren, the first Bishop of Clifton, made him the administrator of his pro-Cathedral.  He was later selected as canon theologian of the newly formed Cathedral Chapter of Clifton.

His association with Plymouth began in 1855, at the age of 41, when Pope Pius IX appointed him as successor to Bishop Errington, the then Bishop of Plymouth.  He was consecrated at the Holy Apostles Church in Clifton, Bristol, by Cardinal Wiseman on July 10th 1855.  His principal church at that time was thre Roman Catholic Church of Saint Mary the Blessed Virgin in East Stonehouse but he felt that it was necessary for the diocese to have a proper cathedral and in due course the land for such a building was purchased and a contract signed and sealed. 

But his task was not to be an easy one.   First, on the day that the foundation stone was to be laid, he learned of the death of his major benefactor, Mr Bastard.  Having overcome the problems of finance, the building was then ready for its consecration when, on June 3rd 1857 the roof collapsed and on June 5th, more of the building fell down.  The fact that June 5th was Saint Boniface's Day, the patron saint of the diocese, might have unnerved a lesser man.   With but little support from outside of his own small congregation, the work was completed satisfactorily and on Lady Day 1858 the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Boniface was opened.

Bishop Vaughan then went on to improve the standards of all the churches, presbyteries, and convents in his diocese, opened many new missions, erected over forty new churches and built twenty elementary schools.

In 1869 his diocese raised funds sufficient to enable him to stay in Rome for the Vatican Council and in 1880 they presented him with the sum of Ł500 and a memorial window in his own Cathedral.  In 1888, when he celebrated his jubilee, the diocese united in three days of prayer, between March 10th and 12th, the anniversary of his ordination and of his first Mass, and a gift of 700, which he used to procure a reredos for the high altar.

At the age of 78 years, he retired from public active life but ruled the diocese to the end.

The Right Reverend William Vaughan, Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth, died peacefully at Saint Augustine's Priory on October 25th 1902.  He was 86 years of age.  'He sought the Glory of God and salvation of souls, and nothing for himself did he solicit.'