Maddox Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Maddox Surname Meaning

Maddox surname is of Welsh origin. It has its roots in the ancient Welsh male name Matoc, meaning “fortunate” which has survived in the Welsh first name Madog, recently popularized in America by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Prince Madog was a legendary 12th century Welsh prince who in Welsh folklore was said to have sailed to the New World three hundred years before Christopher Columbus. 

Maddox is the main spelling in America. Maddux also exists. But Maddox, Maddocks, and Maddock are all equally found in the UK today.

Maddox Surname Resources on The Internet

Maddox, Maddock and Maddocks Surname Ancestry

  • from Wales and Western England
  • to America and Australia

Wales. The name Madog featured prominently among the Welsh kings of Powys. But when Madog translated into a surname at a time of growing English influence, the spelling in Wales turned out various – from Madog to Maddox and Maddock and to Madocks and Maddocks.

The Madog family of Llanfynach was to be found near Brecon on the river Usk, where they were local gentry.  “The Madogs of Llanfynach near Maesmawr were of the line of Gwgan, second son of Moreiddig Warwyn. Moreiddig was said in legend to have been born with a snake about his neck.”  

Nearby in Glamorgan a Maddock family was local gentry at Llangeynoyd. Ann Maddocks, the Maid of Cefn Yfda, was also from Glamorgan.

Meanwhile a Madocks family from Denbighshire in north Wales produced the 19th century industrialist William Madocks who established the new towns of Port Madoc and Tremadoc along the coast.

England.  The Maddox name and its variants spread into England, first into the border counties of Shropshire and Cheshire and later into Lancashire. William Madoc was recorded in Shropshire in 1274, Robert Mattok in Cheshire in 1290.

A Welsh Maddock family was long-established in the Vale of Clwyd across the border from Wrexham.

Another Maddock family was to be found at Farndon in Cheshire in the 1500’s, one son of whom became a goldsmith in Chester. There were some fourteen Maddock families in Chester in the 1660’s, a number of whom became Quakers. John Maddock of the Farndon line was Mayor of Chester in 1676. Sir Thomas Maddock from Chester was a 19th century Governor of Bengal.

Across in Lancashire there was an influential Maddock family at Egremont on Merseyside by the year 1800.

Ireland.  Joseph Maddock was a Quaker from Chester who came to Dublin in the 1690’s. His son Isaac migrated to county Wexford. A number of Maddocks from Wexford left for America and Canada in the 19th century.

America. The spelling in America has generally been Maddox. Four notable Maddox lines began in America during the 17th century:

  • two were into Virginia, starting first with Alexander Mattocks in 1635 and then with John Maddox in 1681.
  • and two were into Maryland, starting first with Samuel Maddox in 1665 and then with Cornelius Maddox in 1680.

Virginia.  Alexander Mattocks, the son of a London merchant, arrived as a young man on the Abraham in 1635. He settled in Northampton county along the Eastern Shore. Some of his children remained in Virginia, others moved to Maryland. The family spelling later became Maddux.

John Maddox’s origins are uncertain. He was thought to have come from London as an indentured servant on the Constant Mary in 1681. Some of his descendants remained in Virginia; others moved to western Kentucky and Georgia.

A later presence in Virginia was the Quaker John Maddox, the man who created the first directory for Richmond in 1819.

Maryland.  Samuel Maddox, of Welsh Llanfynach heritage, arrived in 1665 to Chesapeake Bay at a settlement then known as St. Mary’s City (not far from present-day Washington DC). The family farm there was called Green Springs Farm. The main lines from Samuel ran through his son Notely and grandsons John and Edward.

Cornelius Maddox, who arrived in 1680, was a merchant and landowner in Charles county. Dr. Edward Maddocks or Maddox, a prominent Justice at that time, may have been related, although there is no proof to this. A descendant Henley Maddox migrated in the early 1800’s to South Carolina.

Georgia.  Georgia had by 1880 the largest number of Maddoxes in America and still does today.

The line from Samuel Maddox included a pioneer of north Georgia, Edward Jefferson Maddox, who settled in Putnam county in the early 1800’s. His son Robert moved to Atlanta in 1858, fought in the Civil War, returned penniless, but managed to prosper in the Reconstruction years.

“Three generations of Maddoxes would call the First Methodist church in Atlanta their home. Son Robert Foster Maddox was a banker and active in many civic organizations for most of his 90-plus years. He served as mayor of Atlanta from 1908 to 1910. He was an important officer of the First Methodist church all his life. Baxter Maddox of the next generation was also a banker and an active member of the church until his death in the 1980’s.“  

Also probably from this line was Samuel Maddox who fought in the Revolutionary War and received a land grant in Georgia. He settled in Hancock county. Some of his descendants remained in Georgia; others moved to Mississippi.

Lester Maddox, born in Atlanta in 1915, was the Governor of Georgia from 1967 to 1971 and a staunch segregationist at that time.

Australia.  Captain George Maddox had fought in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and afterwards came to Sydney as Deputy Commissariat General. He later held the same post in Tasmania. His son, also George, was a notable medical practitioner in Launceston; as was his grandson William.

Maddox Surname Miscellany

The Legend of Prince Madog.  An old Welsh ode about Prince Madog ran as follows:

  • “Madog am I, the son of Owain Gwynedd
  • With statue large and comely grace adorned,
  • No land at home, nor store of wealth,
  • My mind was whole to search the sea.”

Prince Madog was said to have sailed to America 300 years before Columbus, in 1170 with one ship.  He then returned and equipped ten ships with colonists sailed again for the New World.

It is presumed that he landed in the area of Mobile Bay, in what is now Alabama. Early explorers and pioneers were said to have found evidence of the Welsh influence along the Tennessee and Missouri rivers among certain tribes of Indians.

There is no record that the Prince ever returned to the land of his birth.  Peculiar things have been found in America.   It was recorded that there were Welsh speaking Indians up the Missouri river called the White Indians.  In addition, they fished with coracles, and pulled the little skin-covered boats with one oar, like a spade.  These boats are still used in Wales today.

Anne Maddocks, The Maid of Cefn Ydfa.  Anne Thomas was put into the wardship of Anthony Maddocks, a lawyer of Cwmrisga, who was said to have compelled her to marry his own son Anthony.  They did indeed marry in 1725. But she died two years later in 1727.

The story goes that the maid was in love with the poet Wil Hopcyn, that he composed the verses Watching the White Wheat to her, and that she died at the age of 23 of a broken heart.

Thomas Maddock in Chester during the Civil War.  Thomas Maddock had married Elizabeth Simcock in 1641 and, after the death of his father, taken over the Maddock family bakery in the city.  However, the outbreak of the Civil War rudely interrupted their plans.

By 1642, when the first Maddock child was born, Chester was preparing for war against the Parliamentarian army.  The next year saw all able-bodied men living in Chester called to bear arms.  They were able to successfully defend the town from Parliamentarian attack.  But in 1645 the eastern suburbs of the city, where the Maddocks probably lived, were taken by surprise. The city fathers ordered that all buildings outside of the town wall be burned to prevent the Parliamentarian forces from taking cover there.

This was the beginning of a siege that lasted for several months. There was a severe shortage of food and the weakened population succumbed to an outbreak of plague in 1647. It was not until 1648 that the town began the slow process of recovery from the war.

In the first seven years of their marriage, during which several children were born, Thomas and Elizabeth endured a war, the destruction of their business, their church and possibly their home. Even if the Maddock bakery had not burned, Thomas would have had trouble getting flour.  The mills had all been destroyed.

Family stories say that Thomas and Elizabeth Maddock joined the Quaker movement in Chester in the 1650’s or 1660’s.

Maddox, Maddocks, and Maddock Today

Numbers (000’s) Maddox Maddocks Maddock Total
UK     4     4     4    12
America    11     –     1    12
Elsewhere     2     1     1     4
Total    17     5     6    28

Friend John Maddox of Richmond, Virginia.  Friend John Maddox was a tall, raw boned Quaker who adhered strictly to the costume of his society.  He was a full six feet in stature and his long strides and rapid gait might have indicated that he had inherited the boots of Jack the giant-killer.  He strode about four feet at each step and slung his body and arms with a vim to keep pace with his legs.

His occupation was that of collector of accounts.  His approach was a terror to bad pay-masters.  He was very plain-spoken and slow to accept excuses; but although a severe dun, he apparently was a kind-hearted man.

Friend Maddox was so enterprising as to publish the first Directory of Richmond, in 1819, which contained about 1,100 names.  Maddox Hill, where he lived, was named after him. 

The Georgia Governor’s Mansion.  The 24,000-square-foot Greek Revival mansion in Atlanta, built in 1967, contains 30 rooms with Federal-period antiques.  It sits on 18 acres that originally belonged to the Robert Maddox family.  They were no relation to the Georgia Governor Lester Maddox who was its first occupant.

Maddox Names

  • Prince Madog was a legendary 12th century Welsh prince who, according to Welsh folklore, sailed to America. 
  • Michael Maddox was an 18th century English entrepreneur and theatre manager active in Russia. He was the co-founder of the Petrovsky theatre, the first permanent opera theatre in Moscow, and a predecessor to the Bolshoi. 
  • Colonel Robert F. Maddox was a prominent citizen of Atlanta following the Civil War. 
  • Lester Maddox, a staunch segregationist, was Governor of Georgia from 1967 to 1971.
  • Sir John Maddox was a British science writer and editor of Nature for 22 years between 1966 and 1995.

Maddox, Maddock and Maddocks Numbers Today

  • 12,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in Georgia)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Maddox and Like Surnames  

Hereditary surnames in Wales were a post-16th century development.   Prior to that time the prototype for the Welsh name was the patronymic, such as “Madog ap Jevan ap Jerwerth” (Madoc, son of Evan, son of Yorwerth).  The system worked well in what was still mainly an oral culture.

However, English rule decreed English-style surnames and the English patronymic “-s” for “son of” began first in the English border counties and then in Wales. Welsh “P” surnames came from the “ap” roots, such as Price from “ap Rhys.”

These are some of the present-day Welsh surnames that you can check out.




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Written by Colin Shelley

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