Select Madden Genealogy

The Madden surname is Irish in origin, deriving from the Gaelic O’Madain or descendant of Madain.  This was a shortened version of the earlier Gaelic Madadhan which meant “dog” or “hound.”  The hound was famous in Gaelic heraldry for having the virtues of speed, endurance, and loyalty.

Select Madden Resources on The Internet

Select Madden Ancestry

IrelandThe first Madden was reputedly Madadhan, a chieftain of a sept in the 10th century from around Clogher in county Tyrone.

“It was said that some of the tribe moved south and, with the spiritual assistance of Saint Grellan, defeated the pagan kings in east Galway and then established the first known and most enduring plantation in that area.”

.  The O’Madden homeland, known as Siol Arimchadhain, was fact in east Galway on the banks of the river Shannon between the Longford barony and Lusmagh parish in Offaly.  They remained relatively independent until the arrival of the English in the 16th century.

When Donal O'Madden led a revolt in 1595 his castles at Meelick and Cloghan were destroyed in a bloody campaign that resulted in the death of many O’Maddens.  As the Annals of the Four Masters noted:

“The Lord Justice left an English constable, Master Francis, at Meelick and took hostages from the two O'Maddens.  Thus was Siol Anmchadha taken and it is not easy to state or enumerate all that was destroyed on that expedition.”

The O’Maddens retained some power in the area in the 17th century.  Derryhivenny castle in fact was built as late as 1643.  But later confiscations meant that they had lost all by the start of the 18th century

Elsewhere.  Maddens dispersed at this time.  Some like James Madden who fought for James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 were outlawed for treason.  James became one of those “Wild Geese” who fled to France and stayed there.

There were Maddens in Kildare (the Maddens of Athgarret) and Maddens also in Limerick and Cork.  John Madden had moved to Limerick in the mid-1700's to involve himself in the construction of the Limerick-to-Killaloe canal.  Maddens were later lock keepers on the canal.   Meanwhile Paul Madden who died at Buttevant parish in county Cork in 1782 was the forebear of some notable Maddens from Cork.

By the time of Griffith's Valuation in the mid-19th century, the largest number of Maddens in Ireland was still in Galway, followed by Tipperary and Cork.
England.  .Maddens came to England.  One route was through the British army or navy.  Captain William Madden of the Royal Marines made his home in Portsmouth in 1800.  One of his sons Frederic grew up to be the leading English palaeographer (manuscript archivist) of his day.  Other Maddens headed to Lancashire mainly in the 19th century in search of work.

.  There were Maddens in America in colonial times. 

Owen Madden married Catherine Donawen in Boston in 1745 and they later settled in St. George, Maine.  As a Loyalist he sought land in Canada, but was unsuccessful.  He and his family remained in Maine. 

In August 1758, in Spotsylvania county, Virginia, a poor Irish immigrant named Mary Madden bore a child, Sarah Madden, whose father was said to have been a slave and the property of Colonel James Madison, father of the future president of the United States. This daughter became indentured to the Madisons. There she worked as a seamstress to pay off the fine of her birth until she was thirty-one years old.

Sarah Madden bore ten children.  When the term of her indenture was over, she and her youngest son, Willis, struck out for themselves.  T.O. Madden recounted their family history in his 2005 book
The Maddens of Culpeper County.

Thomas Madden, born in Frederick county, Virginia in 1765, fought in the Revolutionary War.  His descendants were to be found in Illinois and Texas by the time of the Civil War, the former fighting on the Unionist side and the latter on the Confederate.  Another Madden line was in Frederick county, Maryland at this time.  Richard Madden of this family moved to Harris county, Georgia in the 1790’s. 

Thomas Madden
had come to Maryland in the 1770's and was believed by his descendants to have fought in the Revolutionary War.  By 1800 he had migrated south with his family to Ste. Genevieve on the Mississippi river (then under Spanish rule) where he was employed as a surveyor.

There were Maddens who arrived later from England.  Martin Madden, born in Durham, emigrated with his parents to Chicago as a young boy in 1860.  He prospered there in business and was a US Congressman from 1905 until his death in 1928.

More notorious was Owney Madden who had grown up in Lancashire.  He came with his widowed mother Mary to New York in 1902.  He thrived there as a gangster and underworld boss during Prohibition times in the 1920’s before retiring with his wealth to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

.  One early Madden arrival was a Loyalist from America.  John Madden had come to Philadelphia from Dublin in 1760.  But when the Revolutionary War broke out, he took his family to Vermont and in 1795 crossed the border into Canada.  He settled at Napanee near Kingston, Ontario where he died at the grand age of 98 years.  Later Maddens intermarried with other prominent Loyalist families in the Bay of Quinte area.  Descendants held a family reunion in 1931 and again in 1997.

John Madden, a brogue-maker, was found guilty of “seditious practices” at the Galway assizes in 1820 and was transported on the Dorothy to NSW.  His wife Margaret and sons Patrick and John did follow him, but eighteen years later. 

Among other Madden arrivals were:
  • Patrick Madden from county Clare who came to Melbourne as a bounty (assisted) immigrant sometime in the early 1840’s.  He farmed, firstly in the Kilmore area of Victoria (where Joseph Madden ran the Gold Diggers’ Home a decade or so later) and subsequently in Peak Hill, NSW.
  • Bernard Madden from West Meath who was tried for sheep stealing and transported to Tasmania on the Blenheim in 1851.  His wife Rose and three children followed him four years later (apparently leaving five of their children behind).
  • and Patrick and Margaret Madden who came to Queensland from Limerick in 1863.  Their family story was covered in Lorae Johnson’s 2003 book Madden Connections
Select Madden Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Madden Names

Madadhan mac Gadhra Mór was the reputed 10th century forebear of the O'Madden clan.
Richard Madden
was a 19th century Irish writer, abolitionist
, and historian of the United Irishmen.
Sir Charles Madden
was Second-in-Command of the British Royal Navy during World War One.
John Madden
was an American football coach who won the Super Bowl for the Oakland Raiders in 1976.  He earned greater renown as a commentator on his NFL telecasts from 1981 to 2009

Select Maddens Today
  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 13,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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