Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Vaughan, Thomas (1782-1843)

VAUGHAN, THOMAS (1782–1843), vocalist, born in Norwich in 1782, was a chorister of the cathedral under John Christmas Beckwith [q. v.] His father died while Vaughan, still very young, was preparing to enter the musical profession, which he was enabled to do under the advice and patronage of Canon Charles Smith. In June 1799 Vaughan was elected lay-clerk of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, where he attracted the notice of George III. On 28 May 1803 he was admitted a gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and about the same time became vicar-choral of St. Paul's and lay vicar of Westminster Abbey. In 1811 he joined Charles Knyvett [q. v.] in establishing vocal subscription concerts, in opposition to the Vocal concerts; but on the death of Samuel Harrison [q. v.] in 1812 the two enterprises were merged, and Vaughan stepped into the position of principal tenor soloist at all the prominent concerts and festivals. He sang at the Three Choirs festivals from 1805 to 1836, and took part in the production of Beethoven's Choral Symphony in 1825. For twenty-five years the public recognised in him the typical faultless singer of the English school, perfected by the study of oratorio music. With distinct enunciation, pure intonation, and severe elegance, Vaughan reigned supreme until a more versatile and energetic reading of classical as well as modern music was introduced by John Braham [q. v.], who, however, was never admitted to the frigid region of the Ancient concerts.

Vaughan died at a friend's house near Birmingham, on 9 Jan. 1843, and was buried on the 17th in the west cloister of Westminster Abbey. He married in 1806 Miss Tennant, a soprano singer well known from 1797 in oratorio performances. After some nine or ten years of married life they separated, and Mrs. Vaughan was heard, as Mrs. Tennant, at Drury Lane Theatre.

[Hist. of Norfolk, 1829, p. 1089; Phillips's Memoirs, pp. 141, 149; Gent. Mag. 1843, i. 212; Athenæum, 1843, p. 39; Musical World, 1843, p. 20; Quarterly Musical Mag. vols. ii. v. vi.; Annals of the Three Choirs, pp. 82–8; Grove's Dict. of Music, iv. 233, 319.]

L. M. M.