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Family spelling variants includes Vaughn, Fychan, Fôn

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VAUGHAN Family History

This is an ancient Welsh name that derives from the Welsh word 'fychan', meaning 'small' or, in certain contexts, 'younger', and as such it was a common nickname that was originally used to differentiate people with the same name either within a family or community.

'Fychan' was sometimes used to differentiate between a father and son who had the same name – in that sense, Dafydd Fychan, for example, would therefore mean 'Dafydd the younger'. In other cases, 'fychan' was a nickname that referred to a person's height and so meant 'short'.

Traditionally in Wales there were no fixed hereditary surnames as individuals were identified via their given names plus their fathers' personal names, with any nickname, such as 'fychan', also attached. For example, William ap Dafydd Fychan, meaning 'William the son of Dafydd the younger', or 'William the son of Dafydd the short one'.

In Wales, hereditary surnames only generally came into being between the 16th and 19th centuries, and sometimes an ancestor's nickname would be adopted as the surname. This was the case with the word 'fychan' which was anglicised to 'Vaughan' or 'Vaughn'.

There is no hard and fast rule as to when a family adopted a fixed surname in Wales, but the further north and west a family lived, the later they started to use a hereditary surname, sometimes, especially in the north west of the country, not until the first half of the 19th century. A family's social status also influenced when they adopted fixed surnames – the higher the status, the earlier they used hereditary surnames, most often during the 16th century just after the Act of Union between Wales and England, but sometimes prior to this.

Early examples of the use of Vaughan as a surname include Jenkin Vychan, Esquire of the body to King Henry VII, whose son John adopted the surname in the early 16th century.

Some famous high status Welsh Vaughan families include the Vaughans of Trawsgoed (Crosswood), Cardiganshire, who could trace their ancestry back to Adda ap Llewelyn Fychan (c. 1200); and the Vaughan family of Llwydiarth, Montgomeryshire who were descended from the Princes of Powys.

Robert Vaughan (c.1592–1667) of Dolgellau, Merionethshire, was a famous Welsh antiquarian and genealogist who founded the famous Hengwrt Library. He was the son of Hywel Fychan ap Gruffydd ap Hywel (also known as Hywel Vaughan) who was the descendant of the Lords of Nannau and the Princes of Powys.

Although references to the surname are found in significant numbers throughout Wales, it was particularly popular in the north, as well as in English counties that border Wales, such as in parts of Herefordshire and Shropshire, where the influence of the Welsh language remained until relatively recent times.

In 1841, references to the surname appear all over Wales on that year's census, from Anglesey in the north west down to Monmouthshire in the south east, and it still remained a relatively common surname in the English counties of Shropshire, Cheshire and Herefordshire.



1841 Wales census

A Dictionary of Welsh Biography, National Library of Wales,

A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames (1896) by Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley

Patronymica Britannica (1860) by Mark Antony Lower

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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan, from Cork, Ireland. Now living in Vancouver, Canada. Father Donal Vaughan, Grandfather William Vaughan, and Great Grandfather Denis Vaughan (all from Tipperary, Ireland)

Ashley Vaughan-Redwine

I’m married so my last name now Redwine but my maiden name was Vaughan. My Pawpaw was Albert Clarence Vaughan Jr. We are Texans and we were the only Vaughan’s that had an a. My entire life until now everyone said it wasn’t spelled incorrectly. Only other Vaughan with an A was Stevie Ray Vaughan also a Texan.


This is wild, yet not surprising... My name is Vaughan and I live in the US. I don't know if I'm going to like what I'll find but I want to know. ????

Summer Vaughn-Littledave

Hello my maiden name is Summer Vaughn ( somewhere in recent history we lost the a at the end, my great grandpa spelled it vaughan). My dad is James T Vaughn, son of James Thomas Vaughn, my great grandpa was Tom "Tommie" Vaughn who married Suson Redbird, my great great grandpa I believe was Joe Douglas Vaughn. I would like to learn as much as possible about our family history. My great grandpa Tom Vaughn passed away due to Huntingtons on Christmas day when my grandpa was a young man and we don't know much about that family.

Brooke Vaughan

My name is Brooke Allen Vaughan, my Father is John Victor Vaughan, Grandfather Clarence Vaughan, Great Grandfather Victor Vaughan. I was born in Edmonton Alberta Canada.

Mary Lee

Hi, I was adopted but I did ancestry DNA and found out I come from Ireland and Wales and England and Scotland. My father's last name is Vaughn. I would love to know more family history from you and even get to know you and other family history.


My name is Kerry Richard Vaughan, son of Cyril Dovaston Vaughan (deceased), grandson of Charles Vaughan and Laura Harding. I live in Saskatchewan Canada and I am interested in finding out more about my family tree. Can anyone help?


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