Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edmund Vaughan (1827–1908)

by S. J. Boland

This article was published:

Edmund Vaughan (1827-1908), Catholic priest, was born at Courtfield, Herefordshire, England, son of William Vaughan and his wife Theresa, daughter of Thomas Weld of Lulworth Castle, Dorset. He was the uncle of Archbishop Roger Vaughan and related to Governor Sir Frederick Weld. Educated at Stonyhurst College, he taught science for a few years at St Mary's College, Oscott near Birmingham, before preparing for the priesthood. He was in deacon's orders when he applied for admission to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, known as the Redemptorists, and spent his year of initiation at St Trond near Liège, Belgium; in 1852 he took his religious vows and was ordained priest. He devoted himself to popular preaching, the principal work for which St Alphonsus Liguori had founded the Order. Quickly showing his aptitude for work among all classes and as a kindly superior, in 1867 he introduced the Redemptorists into Scotland, his foundation at Perth being the first Catholic monastery there since the Reformation.

Bishop James Murray of Maitland, New South Wales, arranged for a Redemptorist community in his diocese, and in 1882 Vaughan, as superior, with four priests and two Brothers took up residence at Singleton. They used the summer for campaigns in New Zealand, leaving the preachers free for the rest of the year to meet the requests that came from all the eastern colonies. The inconvenience of Singleton and the burden of parish duties led in 1887 to the community being established at Waratah near Newcastle. Next year a new foundation was made at Ballarat; by 1894 the Redemptorists had conducted missions in every diocese from Cooktown to Adelaide.

When Archbishop Vaughan died suddenly in 1883, Fr Edmund was told confidentially that cardinals Manning and Howard were negotiating to have him named archbishop of Sydney. Although his candidature remained unknown, expressions of partisanship in the Australian press and strong feeling against English superiors made Vaughan's position uncomfortable. His letters showed his awareness of the intensely Irish sentiment of most Australian Catholics. Although he rarely experienced any personal animosity, he insisted that it seemed necessary that ecclesiastical offices in Australia be held by Irishmen; but he readily encouraged Australian candidates for the priesthood and urged his superiors to disregard the contrary arguments of the Irish bishops.

Recalled to England in 1894, Vaughan became English provincial, the major superior of Redemptorists in England, Ireland and Australia. He negotiated the establishment of a separate province in Ireland to assume responsibility for the Australian houses. Aged 80 he died of heart disease and congestion of the liver on 1 July 1908 at Bishop Eton, Liverpool.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Lemire, Le Catholicisme en Australie (Paris, 1894)
  • R. Mageean, The Redemptorists, Their Life and Work (Syd, 1922)
  • S. J. Boland, Very Rev. Edmund Vaughan and the Foundation of the Redemptorists in Australia (Ph.D. thesis, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1958)
  • Manning papers (Oblates of St Charles, Bayswater, London)
  • Maitland Diocesan Archives
  • Vaughan papers (Redemptorist Archives, Provincial House, Pennant Hills, Sydney).

Citation details

S. J. Boland, 'Vaughan, Edmund (1827–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Courtfield, Herefordshire, England


1 July, 1908 (aged ~ 81)
Bishop Eton, Liverpool, Lancashire, England

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