Thomas Bernard Vaughan - often simply known as Bernard Vaughan - was born on 19 August 1822 at Winchester, the eldest son of Thomas and Anne Teresa Vaughan. The family moved to Southampton in 1834. Bernard first appears in local directories in 1849 as a private tutor of French and Latin, living with his parents at 8 Carlton Place. Within less than a decade he had joined the commercial world as a shipping clerk with the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.

By the mid 1860s he has moved to 4 York Terrace, Polygon Road and, by the early 1880s, to Alexandra House in Four Posts. He inherited land in 1872 from his uncle Thomas Cave in French Street, including the Weigh House and Fives Court. At his death on 7 December 1901 he left an estate valued at £773.15s.8d gross. Being unmarried, this was divided between his two unmarried sisters, Emily Blanche and Anne Teresa.

Bernard Vaughan was well known in the amateur musical and dramatical life of Southampton. He was part of a musical family. His father was, in later life, a professor of singing. Three sisters followed his calling: Juliana Gertrude (teacher of music and languages), Monica Maria (teacher of piano and singing) and Anne Theresa (teacher of music and singing). Bernard frequently accompanied his brother, the house decorator Charles Anthony Vaughan, in amateur concerts: in January 1863 the two brothers performed the duet 'The sailor sighs' before a 1,000-strong audience at the Carlton Rooms in an amateur concert in aid of the Lancashire Relief Fund.

Bernard was conductor at annual concerts in aid of St Joseph's School, and joined Bernard and sister Anne Teresa in musical duets and trios. His greatest challenge came in May 1892 when he substituted at short notice for the famous comic singer Horace Lingard at a concert given by his repertoire company at the Prince of Wales' Royal Theatre. He sang the role of Tancred in Chassaigne's opera 'Falka'. Equally following family tradition, Bernard was a Roman Catholic, worshipping at St Joseph's Chapel in Bugle Street. In May 1885 he was chairman of the committee that made a presentation to Father Robert Mount on his resignation as priest-in-charge of the Roman Catholic Mission in Southampton.

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