Enter the Vaughn Lees

by Nancy Smith
(The Story of Dillington a 1000 Years) Penrhiwceiber Connection

John Lee Lee married Jesse Vaughn the daughter of John Edwards the daughter of John Edwards Vaughn of Rheola and Llanelay of Glamorgan and their son Vaughn Hanning Lee, was born on 25th February 1836. His mother died a few days later on March 1st. Eventually his father John Lee Lee married the Hon, Mary Sophia daughter of Lord Bridport and had two sons and two daughters were born.

The Crimean War

Letters some sent by Vaughn Hanning Lee from the Crimea where he served as Lieuatant in the 21st Royal North Fusiliers. In one letter:

I know I wish I was at Dillington now, just getting on my boots to go out shooting, or getting on horseback in order for a gallop after the hounds.

He then goes on:

We begin now to read about fox-hunting which makes me feel the loss of England very much, and I suppose soon Balls will begin. It’s a pity a few young ladies could not come out here and we could get some first rate balls and dinner parties in Sebastopol, which would be great for as some of the Russian officers are very nice fellows.

He continues to describe conversations in French with some of the Russian officer prisoners whom he had to escort. Before we went I gave them a rattling good dinner and we talked and chatted all the way and smoked as if we had been old cronies got years.

In describing more serious events in the way, he says:

I managed to knock four unfortunate Russians. One I sent to long homeas he was coming down to water from a well, I shot him through the coat tails and sent him headlong into the well. One thing I know, my mouth was so black with bitting cartridges that I could not get off for three to four hours.

Towards the end of the war, in 1855, Vaughn Hanning Lee reports:

As conditions worsened he had to take more and more opium for his diarrhea and his men continued to die, he became disillusioned, he wrote caustically:

I may say, without doing Lord Raglan any injustice, that he has completely disorganized the British Army by his indolence and callousness. It is to be hoped you will send us out a better commander or we are all done for. I hate seeing our best men carried to their graves every day, not from the casualties of war but from disease and cold.

Vaughn Hanning Lee was obviously something of a reprobate , finding himself in serious trouble through gambling, drinking and getting into debt even while in Crimea and his father had to bail him out several times. It seems even a cheque once bounced which was enough to have had him cashiered if he had been found out.

Vaughn Hanning Vaughn Lee

Vaughn Hanning Vaughn Lee died on 7th July 1882 and is buried at Whitelackington church, his mother the Hon Mary Sophia Lee Lee, outlived him dying on the 29th January 1888 at a nearly eighty years of age. On his death, his Welsh estates were divided between his two older sons. Llanelay containing a coal mine near Neath went to Arthur, along with Dillington, while Rheola estate went to John Edwards who then dropped the Lee from his name. Arthur Vaughn Hanning Vaughn Lee inherits Arthur had entered the army and fought in the Boer war, during which time he kept a diary of his experiences. He succumbed to typhoid and was hospitalized for the remainder of it. When he eventually retired from the army in 1911 he was a Colonel in the Royal Horse Guards (the famous blues) at the age of fifty three in 1915, he married thirty seven year old Mary Ursula Umfreville Pickering. Her family is an ancient one, tracing its lineage back to Alfred the Great and the kings of Scotland, their family tree referring to “Duncan , murdered by Macbeth 1040”.

John Lee Lee died on the 16th August 1874, his will appointed John Walrond Walrond of Devon as Trustee and Executor and mentions a poignant bequest of a turquoise ring containing some of his first wife’s hair. His eldest son inherited, adding Vaughn to his surname to become Vaughn Hanning Vaughn Lee so he could inherit the Welsh estates of his mother.