Vaughan, John (1831-1907)

Primitive Methodist Magazine 1887

Early years

John was born on 31 May 1831 at Wells, Somerset to parents Joseph and Fanny. Joseph worked the land.

John’s parents attended the Church of England. He was the eldest of ten children and had to go to work when very young. He had little by way of educational opportunities.

John worked in paper mills, then as a French polisher and then in service to a gentleman.

When he was 22, John went with his uncle, W Jones, to the Primitive Methodist chapel in Bath where Rev Thomas Hobson was preaching. There, John had his conversion experience. He was soon engaged in preaching in the villages around Bath and Bristol.


John’s most celebrated efforts took place in Edinburgh. In 1861 a confident young man, John Vaughan, just out of probation, was sent to do something about the situation on Edinburgh. A few days later a house fell down in the High Street and on the next Sunday he preached beside it in gaslight. This made his name and later he was asked to preach at a service in the Free Church Assembly Hall. He was invited to exchange pulpits with ministers of other denominations.

In articles for the Primitive Methodist Magazine from his arrival in 1861 when there were 58 members meeting in a rented hall, he reported emotional conversions, tears over lost conditions, success in setting up weeknight meetings and increases in membership. The climax of these reports came in 1866 with Edinburgh’s newly-built chapel, schoolroom and minister’s house in Victoria Terrace, ‘one of the best situations in the city. Italian style of architecture, reclining paneled back benches . . . platform, two galleries, neat vestry fitted up for a study … Organ … powerful 2 star gas lights . . . windows best crown glass, with ruby borders and a white flower on front windows.’ As preachers at the Mission Anniversary, he got the great Thomas Guthrie, Moderator of the FC General Assembly, followed by ministers of the Independent, Baptist, and Free Church. ‘This,’ wrote Vaughan, was ‘considered by our people to be the best missionary anniversary ever held in this city. We give God the glory’.

John’s obituary records that he was strong-willed, tenacious, untiring and energetic. His mind was of a logical practical cast, not given to much speculation. He had excellent analytic faculty, and was surprisingly neat in his homiletic work, as, indeed in all his habits and his personal appearance. He had a terse nervous style of speech and writing.


John wrote the following.

Plain talk for plain people, 1886

Life stories of remarkable preachers, 1892


John married Isabella Croft (1835-1867) on 1 October 1861 at Richmond, Yorkshire.

John married Ann Cunliffe (1842-1904) in 1868.

John died on 6 July 1907 at Blackpool, Lancashire.


  • 1857 Gravesend
  • 1858 Hammersmith
  • 1859 Goudhurst
  • 1860 Richmond
  • 1862 Edinburgh
  • 1867 Liverpool l
  • 1868 Haslingden
  • 1869 Lancaster
  • 1873 Blackburn
  • 1877 Woodley
  • 1878 Stockport ll
  • 1880 Oldham lll
  • 1883 Cardiff
  • 1885 Blaenavon
  • 1887 Workington
  • 1890 Lydney
  • 1892 Blackburn ll
  • 1895 Blackpool (S)


Primitive Methodist Magazine 1869/378 (Isabella); 1887 (portrait); 1905/326 (Ann)

PM Minutes 1908/33

J Petty, The History of the Primitive Methodist Connexion, 1880, p 622

Margaret Batty, Primitive Methodism in Scotland, Proceedings of the Wesley History Society, Vol 55, October 2006

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers


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