Childhood home of John Vaughan, Derllys Court, Bancyfelin
Derllys was the home for centuries of some of Carmarthenshire’s leading families of the uchelwyr, or landed gentry. The original house (replaced in 1814) was built in 1660 (as shown on the date stone in the photo) and was the childhood home of John Vaughan (1663-1722). He inherited the estate aged 21. It was one of the county’s richest estates, containing 215 properties and producing the large annual income of £1,237.
Throughout his life, John used his wealth and influence to support ordinary folk. His faith was important to him, and he encouraged families to pray at home.
In 1692 he married, in nearby Merthyr church, Elizabeth Thomas from Meidrim. They had four children, including Bridget – who became the influential Madam Bevan of Laugharne. He gave them all a good education and raised them as devout Christians.
John founded a school in Llangynog which continued until 2009. Bridget later founded Llandeilo Abercowyn and Llandybie schools. The family also patronised Llanllwch church, which John paid to have rebuilt in 1711. He was eventually buried there. The lower photo shows his memorial.
John served on Carmarthen borough council 1702-1722. He was appointed sheriff in 1695 and mayor in 1710.
His greatest contribution to the district was his work for education and Christianity. He was an inspector for the SPCK (Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge). With its support, schools were established across Carmarthenshire for children in poor areas to be educated and learn the principles of the faith.
John also worked to improve conditions in jails. He sought better living standards for the poor and wanted adults to learn through reading, especially in Welsh. He founded free lending libraries and was patron of several authors. He supported the SPCK’s aim to set up libraries in every parish, and not just for clergymen and teachers – he wished that all “the inhabitants of every parish may have the perusal of the books in the Welch (sic) libraries”.
John Rhydderch’s edition of Rhys Pritchard’s Cannwyll y Cymry was dedicated to John Vaughan, in praise of his charitable work, contribution to education and support for the Welsh language. John Vaughan became “the chief patron of Welsh books throughout South Wales and indeed, throughout the country as a whole”. He was responsible for distributing many thousands of books, including bibles, as well as pamphlets and sermons, and became the “link between the SPCK in London and the Welsh people who benefited from its publications”.
With thanks to Peter Stopp, of the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society
Postcode: SA33 5DT View Location Map