Madden Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Madden Meaning
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.”
hound was famous in Gaelic heraldry for having the virtues of speed,
and loyalty

Madden Resources on

Madden Ancestry

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

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

. The O’Madden homeland, known as Siol

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

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

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

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
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. Billy Madden, born in London in 1855 of Irish parents, became a well-known boxing figure of his day.  Other Maddens headed to Lancashire in the 19th century in search of work.

America. There were Maddens in
America in colonial

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
been a slave and the property of Colonel James Madison, father of the
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
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
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.

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.

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.

Canada. 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
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
area. Descendants held a family reunion
in 1931 and again in 1997.

Australia. 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

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


Madden Miscellany

Madadhan Mac Gadhra Mor .  Madadhan mac Gadhra Mor who died in 1008 is thought to have been the forebear of the
O’Maddens/Maddens in Ireland.

He was the son of Gadhra mac Dundach who
fought at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.  On the occasion of
his death, reputedly
killed by his own brother, the Annals
of Ulster
him as the
Chief of Siol Anmchadha
(along the banks of the river Shannon in what is today east Galway).

Madudan’s only known issue was Diarmaid mac Madudan.  His son Madudan Reamhart Ua Madadhan, who was the
clan chief until 1096, was the first of the Siol Anmchadha to adopt the surname of O’Madadhan.

The Madden Lock Keepers in Limerick.  In 1757 cutting began in earnest on the
Limerick-to-Killaloe canal and David Madden supervised the passage of
the first canal barge to Killaloe in 1799.

The Maddens became lock keepers at the Park Lock in 1830 and
it stayed with the family.  The stewardship of the lock passed
from David Madden to his son Thomas and wife Kate in 1860 and they were
to remain there for the next forty five years.  Thomas and Kate
raised seven sons while they were lock keepers.

Two of his sons Mike and John were described by a local man
Gus Doyle as follows:

“I saw Mike Madden break the ice
on the canal with a sledgehammer so that he could take his boat up the
canal, as he did for many years.   Mike was an outstanding
Cloughoun hurler, as was his brother John who captained the 1914 Exiles
team in New York.  Mike was the friend of everyone boating or
walking.  His little cottage off Troy’s Lock was an open house to
everyone alike.”

John had in fact emigrated to New York from Limerick in 1911.

Another son David became a lock keeper at Errina Lock further
up the Shannon river.  Thomas sadly drowned in 1930 when the boat
from which he was fishing crashed into the Black Bridge.  Denis
meanwhile was a champion boxer who defeated Yank Kenney for the Irish
welterweight championship.

Paul Madden’s Descendants in Cork.  Paul Madden who died in 1782 was the forebear of some
notable Maddens from Cork.  Their numbers

  • Owen Madden (1790-1853), a
    Justice of the Peace
  • Daniel Owen Madden
    (1815-1859), novelist, historian, biographer, and political commentator
  • Rev. Samuel Owen Madden (1831-1891), Dean of St Fin
    Barre’s Cathedral in Cork
  • Alderman Paul
    J. Madden (1839-1901), mayor of Cork
  • Sir
    John Madden (1844-1918), Chief Justice and Lieutenant-Governor of
  • Sir Francis Madden (1847-1921), Speaker of the
    Victorian Legislative Assembly
  • and Rev. Canon
    Owen Madden (1871-1947), Chancellor of the Diocese of Cork.

Captain William Madden of the Royal Marines.  William
John Madden grew up in Cole Hill House in Fulham that had been built
his father in 1770.  He served for
many years as Paymaster for the Royal Marines and later used his
expertise to
help with the financial affairs of fellow officers.
This was sufficiently successful to enable
him and his wife Sarah to purchase their home at 31 St. Thomas’s Street
in Old
Portsmouth in 1800.  They continued to
live in the house until both he and his wife died in 1833 within a few
days of
each other.

The inscription on his gravestone read:

the memory of Captain
William John Madden, eldest son of James Madden esq. of Colchill House
Fulham, and brother of Major General George Madden.
He was born on October 26, 1757 and died on
May 3, 1833.”

The eldest son Lewis, born in 1783, was a Lieutenant in the Royal
Marines, serving almost twenty years in the French Revolutionary Wars.  Much of Lewis’s retirement was taken up by
the new practice of brass rubbings of which he had become quite expert.  His younger brother Frederic, eighteen years
the junior, spent much effort in securing a collection of these
rubbings in the
British Library.

Reader Feedback – Billy Madden in Boxing.  You have missed Billy Madden, famed pugilist and boxing manager.  He was born in London in 1855 to an Irish father and mother.  He died in New York in 1918.  He was John L Sullivan’s manager, as well as for numerous other boxing greats, a boxer in his own right, and was inducted into the Bare Knuckles Boxing Hall of Fame. He was an undefeated welterweight champion, but was best known as a master of honest boxing management.

Billy Madden was good friends with many national and international rich and famous sporting men of his day including Bat Masterson and Teddy Roosevelt. He was also a published author, Broadway playwright, politician, philanthropist, and social activist. His Irish roots were in Offaly and he was a direct descendant of the Maddens of Cloghan Castle.

Patra Madden (

Thomas Madden, Missouri Pioneer.  In 1800 Thomas Madden lived
about three miles outside the town of Ste. Genevieve on the Mississippi
river.  At
that time the community was visited by the Rev. William Murphy a
minister and his three sons.

The English-speaking visitors were dismayed to
find they were not able to communicate at all with the
French-speaking inhabitants of
the town.  Fortunately someone contacted Thomas Madden and he came
town to invite the visitors to his home.  Madden made them feel
welcome and
advised them on where good pieces of land wereavailable for settlement.

Madden moved his family about fifteen to twenty miles southwest of
Genevieve to the large land grants he had secured from the Spanish
the present day town of Coffman and then called the Saline township.

Madden and his wife Margaret had a large family.  A
genealogy chart for their family was
offered by historian Lucille Basler in his book Pioneers
of Old Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.

Owney Madden in New York and Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Owen Vincent Madden was always known as Owney.  The gangster Meyer Lansky considered him the
toughest man he knew.  And he knew plenty
of tough men.  Wells, his long-time light
duty man, said:

“Owney didn’t want any attention.  He
didn’t want anyone making a fuss over
him.  He always said his birthday was on
Christmas, so that no one would celebrate him.”

He added that he was very
private, but very generous with his money.

And plenty of money he had.  Years
of prohibition liquor revenue from his
various New York enterprises left him with considerable wealth.  He spent a time in Sing Sing prison.  After his release he was informed that he was
no longer welcome in the state of New York by the powerful politicians
there.  Thus he decided to move his
fortune and apply his organizational skills to the small valley town of
Springs, Arkansas with a very large, and soon to be, larger illegal

Norwood Phillips, a well-respected attorney and native of
Springs, considered Madden to be the most generous wealthy man he had
known.  Madden’s generosity had an impact
on the youth of the community – by virtue of the largest Boys Club
in Arkansas at that time – and in the purchase of uniforms for the High
band, among whose members included former President Bill Clinton,
according to

His passions extended to the many pets he had and to the
homing pigeons
that he loved to utilize as couriers of cryptic messages between
himself and
New York mobsters.


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 Madden Numbers 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)


Select Madden and Like Surnames 

The Irish clan or sept names come through the mists of time until they were found in Irish records such as The Annals of the Four Masters.  The names were Gaelic and this Gaelic order was preserved until it was battered down by the English in the 1600’s.

Some made peace with the English.  “Wild geese” fled to fight abroad.  But most stayed and suffered, losing land and even the use of their language.  Irish names became anglicized, although sometimes in a mishmash of spellings.  Mass emigration happened after the potato famine of the 1840’s.

Some surnames – such as Kelly, Murphy and O’Connor – span all parts of Ireland.  But most will have a territorial focus in one of the four Irish provinces – Leinster, Munster, Ulster, and Connacht.

Connacht in NW Ireland covers the counties of Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Galway, and Roscommon.  Here are some of the Connacht surnames that you can check out.




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