A family antiquity found



Joseph Jefferson Maddox shotgun

The blackpowder shotgun once owned by Joseph Jefferson Maddox (1840-1905)

I have a healthy obsession with the unusual story of Joseph Jefferson Maddox (1840-1905), who fought for the Union during the Civil War, and his brother Benjamin “Wes” Maddox (1835-1913) and uncle Davis Maddox (1822-1898), who fought for the Confederacy.  It’s not just that they were on opposing sides of the Civil War, but that Joseph Jefferson Maddox pursued the very unit that his uncle and brother were part of – Morgan’s Raiders – and actually fought and captured them at the Battle of Buffington Island.

With recent news of the removal of General Morgan’s statue in Lexington, Kentucky, I’ve become more interested in these three uncles.  After a little digging, I contacted Joseph Jefferson Maddox’s great granddaughter, who very kindly relayed a picture of his blackpowder shotgun.  These shotguns went out of fashion with the introduction of the repeating rifle in the 1890s, so it’s old.  It looks like it got some use – perhaps for hunting,  But I have no idea when he might have used it.  During the war?  Unlikely.

It’s nice having a physical reminder of a relative.  But it just encourages more digging.  We’ve known for a while that Joseph Jefferson Maddox enrolled and mustered on 18 August 1862 and fought in the Civil War as a Private in the Union’s proud 3rd Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry, Company A.  What we didn’t know until recently is that he served under Lewis Wolfley, who earned the nickname “Sherman’s Fighting Major” and commanded the unit that chased and fought against Morgan’s Raiders (his brother Wes’s and uncle Davis’s unit) in the summer of 1863.[xix] [xx] [xx.a.]  The 3rd Kentucky Cavalry’s official history indicates Joseph’s regiment went on to participate in the fierce battles of Perryville, Franklin, Murfreesboro, and Atlanta. His records show that he was captured on 14 October 1864 outside of Atlanta – during a month of constant skirmishes against Confederate General Hood’s forces – and he was imprisoned at the makeshift Camp Lawton in Magnolia Springs, Georgia.

Joseph Jefferson Maddox

A recently rediscovered photograph of Joseph Jefferson Maddox.

Joseph Jefferson Maddox enlisted in late 1862 as news of Morgan’s Raiders’ exploits were circulating through local newspapers and across the country.  The implication of his enlistment timing is that he might have enlisted specifically in response to his brother and uncle’s Confederate activities.  It’s a story worth more obsession.


Edward, the Newgate prisoner


We’ve been trying to understand how the Maddoxes of Shropshire, England, might have been affected by the English Civil War (1642-1651) and the Restoration (1660).  These events almost certainly played a role in Edward Maddox‘s emigration from England sometime after 1661.  In America, Edward’s records demonstrate strong anti-Papism, possibly implying that he was aligned against King Charles II (who was in favor of religious freedom) during this tumultuous period.

A fellow Maddox researcher, David Pugh, recently found evidence that an Edward Maddox was ejected from England in 1670 after spending time in London’s infamous Newgate Prison.  A 14 February 1670 warrant offers to set him free if he “gives security for his good behavior and transports himself abroad.”

Edward Maddox 1670 Transported (1)

David Pugh’s research on FindYourPast offers a possible cause for Edward Maddox’s emigration.

Newgate was known for its horrifying conditions – including dungeons, starvation, exposure, extortionist guards, and more.  Public punishments such as hanging, drawing and quartering attracted 17th-century crowds, and sealed the prison’s reputation.  London-In-Sight offers a description.

Edward Maddox might have been among allies at Newgate.  During the late 1600s the prison housed a number of well known anti-monarchists and anti-Papists, such as Titus Oates, who had fabricated the 1678-1681 Popish Plot and instigated violence against Catholics.  Oates alleged that there was an extensive Catholic conspiracy to assassinate Charles II.

Oates’ Popish Plot sounds very similar to the conspiracy by Edward Maddox’s friend, Parson John Waugh, in March 1688/9.  Waugh falsely claimed that Maryland Catholics were crossing the Potomac River with Seneca Indians to murder Virginians in their sleep. Waugh and Edward Maddox’s other friend George Mason (grandfather of the Founding Father) would be punished for the subterfuge.  Perhaps Waugh and his friends were copying Oates?

The 17th-century Maddox home in Shropshire, England


We visited Thonglands, a small rural hamlet in Shropshire, England, this week.  Edward Maddox‘s (d. 1694) parish records note that he lived at Thonglands with his wife Ellinor, but there’s little more to explain the place or its significance.

We drove along high hedgerows and forded a river to find the place.  We were welcomed by the owner and his wife, who showed us around the place – including the dovecot, moat, ancient loo (outhouse, complete with a small gargoyle above the door), and the various segments of the home.  The place has been inhabited since before the Domesday register of the 11th century, and it bears numerous architectural styles.

Although it remains unclear whether our ancestors lived in the house itself or lived nearby, it is certain that they would have interacted with the owners and would have visited it in the routine of their lives.

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Thonglands was a manor in its day.  It was surrounded by a moat (seen in this picture) and featured a 240-hole stone dovecot (also pictured).

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One of the older Tudor-style sections of the Thonglands house.

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The current owner calls this the “black and white” section of the home.


A visit to the Maddoxes’ historic Munslow Parish church in Shropshire, England


We’re touring our Maddox sites in Shropshire and Wales this week, and one of the most impressive has been St. Michael’s Church in Munslow, Shropshire, England.  St. Michael’s is a 12th-century Norman-style Anglican church with an intricate interior, including 15th-century stained glass windows, a 15th-century baptismal font, and original pews.  Our ancestors attended this church in the 1600s.  They were baptized in the same font, sat in the same pews, and stared at the same stained glass windows.  It was an impressive visit.  We’re indebted to Reverend John Beesley for allowing us to join his congregation for Evensong.

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One of three 15th-century stained glass windows in St. Michael’s Church.


The baptismal font in which Edward, Cornelius, John, Ellinor, and Alice Maddox were baptized in the mid-1600s.

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Hand-knitted kneeling pads depicting rural scenes around Munslow parish.

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A broken headstone from the 1800s.  Unfortunately, most of the older headstones have fallen or been buried over time and there’s no hope of finding them – such as the headstones for Ellinor and John Maddox (mother and son), who were buried a week apart in 1656.

A primer on the Maddoxes in Wales


We’ve established that our 9th great grandfather lived in southern Shropshire, England, before emigrating to Maryland in the mid-1600s.  As we begin to dig into local Shropshire records in search of more data and stories, it’s useful to place the family in the historical and etymological context of Shropshire and their presumed earlier home of Wales.

Madog/Madoc is the original spelling of our name, as used in Wales as a forename by ethnically/culturally Welsh ancestors at least as long ago as the 6th century.  Saint Madoc established a monastery in the 6th century at the eponymous Llanmadoc, on the Gower Peninsula, but that doesn’t mean he was the first Madog/Madoc in the area and it doesn’t give us a clue to the earlier origins of the name.  One writer has made a speculative claim that Saint Madoc’s DNA is similar to DNA found among the Gaulish Medulli people, including a Medulli group that lived in Medoc, France.

The Madog/Madoc lines in Wales are famous for their short-lived kingdoms and their rebellions against Norman and English invaders.  Kings bearing the Madog name had a part in the establishment of the Powys kingdom after the Romans left Wales in the 5th century, and kept the Powys kingdom going for centuries.  Our known 17th-century ancestors might have descended from Powys’s Mathrafal dynasty, which included the 12th-century founders of the Powys Fadog kingdom (Fadog means Madog) and the Powys Wenwynwyn kingdom some decades later.  These kingdoms once held the majority of Wales and parts of Shropshire. The Powys Fadog kingdom was politically centered on Dinas Bran and spiritually centered on Valle Crucis.  The Powys Wenwynwyn kingdom included Munslow, Shropshire, where our Edward Maddox lived in the 17th century.  Perhaps the Powys Wenwynwyns deposited Edward’s grandfathers there.


Castle Powis in Welshpool, Wales, was originally owned by the Powys Wenwynwyn line.  It is now the property of the Earl of Powys.  The castle is open to the public and includes art and objects stretching into the 15th century.  We took the above courtyard photo during a tour in 2017.

The Powys Fadog kingdom fought with the Gwynedd kingdom to the north, which included numerous prominent Madog/Madoc relations.  The Gwynedd kingdom would defeat the Powys Fadog kingdom in the 12th century.  The most famous Madog/Madoc to come from the Gwynedd line was Madoc ab Owain Gwynned, who legendarily sailed to the American continent in the 1100s, and whose descendants would purportedly be found living among Native Americans in the 1600s and speaking Welsh.

When American Maddox researchers claim ancestry in Wales via 17th-century Maryland and Virginia colonists, it’s usually a claim to the Maddoxes of the Powys Wenwynwyn kingdom, whether the researchers know it or not.  This claim was propagated by Fredonia Maddox Webster in the first four pages of her 1957 book, The Maddox Family of Maryland.  She relayed a romantic British description of the Madogs of Llanfrynach (a few miles southeast of Brecon), whose ancestors rebelled against the Crown before being reduced to minor local nobles.  Webster’s four-page genealogy of the Madogs of Llanfynach begins with King Arthur and ends with John Maddox, progenitor of Maryland colonist Samuel Maddox.

Many hopeful family historians have claimed that their Maddox line includes a Thomas Maddox, who settled near Jamestown, Virginia, in 1620 and died by 1623 (possibly due to injuries after the Indian Massacre of 1622).  They claim that this Thomas is identifiable with “Thomas Lord Scethrog,” and again they refer to Webster’s book, even though Webster writes that Thomas died in 1620.  Webster claims that Thomas Lord Scethrog was the father of John Madog, who was the father of Maryland colonist Samuel Maddox. One researcher has found a 1607 gravestone for a “Gwladis, married Thomas Maddock, Lord of Scethrock” in Saint Meugan’s Church in Llansantfraed, providing perfect evidence for a geographic location… if only the genealogical link to the Maddox colonists could be proven. But so far it has been impossible to actually document known Colonial ancestors into the royal Madog/Madoc lineage in Llanfrynach.

While hopeful Maddox family historians may claim links to Fredonia Webster Maddox’s 16th-century Madogs of Llanfrynach, our own Maddox ancestors were living 60 miles to the northeast in Munslow, Shropshire, at that time.  Our Maddoxes were geographically closer to the extraordinarily beautiful Powis Castle, where the last of the Powys Wenwynwyn heirs lived in the late 13th century.  But the illegitimate son of the last Powys Wenwynwyn prince sold the castle to the Herbert family soon thereafter.  The Madogs of Powys Wenwynwyn were dispersed throughout the modern area of Powys.


The kingdom of Powys Wenwynwyn included western Shropshire, where Edward Maddox lived in the mid-1600s. Credit: Wikipedia.

The name Madog did not originally serve as a static surname.  It was a forename. Parents could name their sons Madog for many reasons, and the use of the name didn’t necessarily mean a blood relationship to any of the Madogs that came before.  For this reason, not every Madog in Wales should be considered a relative.  One researcher provides a deeper explanation here and another expresses frustration here.

For over a millennium, the ethnically/culturally Welsh used the Madog forename as a patronymic, meaning that a man would identify himself with his father’s name (or rarely his mother’s name).  For example, Madog ap Dafydd meant Madog son of Dafydd.  A woman would use matronymics, placing the term ferch (daughter of) before her mother’s name.  This was intended to establish genealogy for legal proceedings, but records and genealogies among the ancient Maddoxes are few and questionable.

While Welsh ancestors called themselves Madog/Madoc, ethnically/culturally English ancestors just to the east simultaneously spelled their name Madocke/Maddocke, based on a study of thousands of 16th-century records.

The use of patronymics generally ended in 1536, when Henry VIII passed the Act of Union, which put an end to the tradition in favor of Anglicized surnames.  Some families then incorporated the ap at the front of their surnames.  For example, the Rice surname became Price.  Other families added a possessive s to the end of their surname.  For example, Jone became Jones.  In England, Madog/Maddock became Maddocks/Maddox.  But the Welsh continued to use Madog/Madoc.

The transition to Anglicized surnames in the mid-16th century can help us establish geography and distinguish between families.  Our known ancestor Edward Maddox and his children used English spellings as early as the 1640s in Munslow Parish baptismal, marriage and burial records, implying English cultural/ethnic identity.  This could also imply an eastward aspect: they probably had been doing business with the English, whose centers of commerce were to the east toward London.

Among the intriguing records we’ve already found in the Shropshire Archives is the 1630/1 will of John Everall of Wentnor, Shropshire, referring to his son Edward Maddox and his grandson Edward Maddox.  The dates match our Edward Maddox’s chronology, location, and son’s name in Shropshire.  But why a man with the surname Everall would have a son and grandson with the surname Maddox is… confusing.  But if we reverse-engineer Everall’s name into his original patronymic (for example, the name Evans was originally ap Ieuan), we see that he might have been called ap Iarll before surnames were fixed.  Ap Iarll translates to “son of Earl.”  Perhaps – just speculation – he was derived from the Powys Wenwynwyn royal line, and had a complex series of wives and children, as many of the royals did.  Or maybe the story is much more basic.  Lots more work to do.

Pulling a thread


We’ve been trying to understand our Edward Maddox‘s (d. 1694) origins in Shropshire, England, and add any more evidence to our assessment of his migration to the American Colonies.  Most evidence of such early migration is oblique, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising to find hints of Edward’s origins in obscure write-ups about the 17th-century English cloth trade…

It turns out that the town of Shrewsbury, in Edward’s County of Shropshire, was the center of trade (export) for woolens and the headquarters of the Drapers Guild.  Edward lived just south of Shrewsbury in the town of Munslow, placing him ideally for involvement in the cloth trade.  Perhaps he was warehousing locally grown wool.  Other towns in the area were used as markets or warehouses.

One author explains that “The ‘proud Salopians’ of Shrewsbury, as their rivals termed them, achieved the high-water mark of their prosperity in the century before the [1642-51] Civil War: the town’s population rose from 3,000 to 7,000, the urban area was largely rebuilt, and the borough evolved from a county seat into the economic and social focus of an area stretching from the Wrekin to Cardigan Bay. Shrewsbury’s urban growth mirrored developments at neighbouring Chester and Worcester, but the simultaneous expansion of its hinterland gave it a regional significance comparable to that of much larger centres such as York, Norwich, Bristol or Exeter. This expansion was partly due to Shrewsbury’s location at the head of the Severn navigation, which facilitated communications to Gloucester, Bristol and beyond, while Shrewsbury’s proximity to the upland pastures of southern Shropshire [where Edward’s town of Munslow is located] made it the entrepôt for top-quality March wool coveted by broadcloth weavers from Gloucestershire to the Low Countries.” (Source: http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1604-1629/constituencies/shrewsbury)

The Drapers Guild fell apart in the mid-1600s after the Glorious Revolution. According to a Wikipedia article, “after the English Civil War (1642–51) regulations were made in 1654 ‘for preventing the Drapers forestalling or engrossing the Welsh flannels, cloths, etc.’ Many of the drapers supported Parliament during the civil war, and as a consequence the Company was not given royal support after the monarchy was restored in 1660 under Charles II (r. 1660–85). The cloth trade went into a gradual decline after this date. The number of drapers had fallen back to 61 in 1665.” (Source: The Shrewsbury Drapers and the Welsh Wool Trade in the XVI and XVII Centuries, T.C. Mendenhall)  Edward migrated to Virginia at about this time.

The cloth trade suggestion is particularly compelling as an explanation for Edward’s migration because he imported “fuetiane” (a kind of heavy cloth) to Maryland in 1675 .  It was enough cloth to be reported in official Colonial records (Source: Colonial Survey Report #3964, p. 16).  His son Cornelius would be called a merchant in some records and this might have been because of a cloth import business.  We’ll have to continue pulling this thread.  The Shrewsbury archive contains records of the Guild.

Edward the puritan?



Our ninth great grandfather, Dr. Edward Maddox, emigrated from England to the American Colonies sometime between 1656 and 1668.  We wonder at his motivations to leave England, and the resolve it must have taken to settle in the harsh wilderness along the Potomac River.  He was among the very first Englishmen to live in the area.  Court records document Edward’s rough frontier medicine, land speculation, wolf hunts and conflict with the Native Americans.

In his early adulthood in England, Edward would have endured the 1642-1651 English Civil War, during which 6 percent – or 300,000 – of his countrymen died.  It was a fight between “roundheads” and “cavaliers” – parliamentarians and royalists.  The parliamentarians won in 1651.  It was England’s experiment with republicanism, and for a decade it functioned roughly as intended, with Oliver Cromwell’s cronies keeping order over a rowdy parliament until 1659.

But beneath Cromwell’s anti-monarchism there was a darker religious fervor… against Catholics.  The English establishment could not stand the implications of a Catholic king – the economic upheaval it would risk – and rumors of English kings’ Papal alliances were truly incendiary.

To be certain, everything in Edward’s records indicates he was a fervent anti-Catholic.  We see him in Stafford County, Virginia, in the late 1680s befriending the notorious Parson Waugh, whose claim to infamy was his 1681 incitement of an anti-Catholic riot in Virginia.  Waugh falsely claimed that Maryland Catholics were crossing the Potomac River with Seneca Indians to murder Virginians in their sleep. Waugh and Edward Maddox’s other friend George Mason (grandfather of the Founding Father) would be punished for the subterfuge.

But where Edward’s Colonial records reveal his strong anti-Catholic sentiments, the records do not reveal any strong favor for the king.  Instead, his departure from England around 1660 – as the parliamentarians lost power and King Charles II restored the monarchy – could mean just the opposite.  If Edward left England at the time of Charles’ crowning in 1660, it could mean he was fleeing the royalists’ wrath, or rejecting the king’s rumored Papism in favor of more puritanical Protestantism in America like many others did.  He would have been among friends in Maryland, where he resided until 1684 –  a year before King Charles II’s death.

Edward’s later life also raises some questions about his competing allegiances to god and king.  Although Edward rose in social prominence in Maryland and Virginia through the 1680s by marrying into the prominent Stone and Mason families, he did not attain a public position as a Justice of the Peace in Stafford County, Virginia, until 1691.  His very late Justice appointment – when he was probably 80, and just after the king’s death – may indicate that Edward had been a political outsider during the king’s reign, but that he was finally brought into the fold after allegiances changed.

Just a theory.

A 300-year-old picture of life in the Colonies


We’ve previously documented the location of our 8th great-grandfather Cornelius Maddox‘s land called Tatshall in Charles County, Maryland.   A court record from 1684 describes Tatshall as “adjoining to the land called Moores Ditch [aka Moore’s Lodge] at the exterior bound thereof.”

Until a chance encounter today with Charles County historian Anita Barbour Gordon, we did not understand the significance of the Moore’s Lodge location.  From Anita’s description, Moore’s Lodge was the original seat of the Charles County government (1674-1727), and it was thoroughly excavated in 2008 after a century of searches for the exact location.  The results of the archaeological excavation can be seen here.

Important to us, James Maddox (first son of Cornelius Maddox) is featured in the archaeological team’s conclusions.  He bought the original courthouse and jail in 1731.  He salvaged the building materials and then flipped the property to Thomas Hussey’s grandson, John Hanson.

More important than a description of a land transaction is a precise illustration of historically significant buildings that one of our ancestors owned nearly 300 years ago.  The illustration also features a stock for punishing criminals and a grove of peach trees.  It gives a good understanding of the family’s lifestyle at the time.  The Washington Post wrote in 2008 that the drawing of the courthouse is “one of the most famous depictions of a 17th-century building in Maryland.”


James Maddox owned the above-illustrated Moore’s Lodge courthouse in 1731 and might have operated the ordinary (inn) at that time.  His father Cornelius had owned the nearby Tatshall land tract. (Illustration: Maryland Archives)


The watery graves of Christ Church, Port Tobacco, Maryland



Kayakers on Port Tobacco Creek, in Charles County, Maryland, recently found a pair of very old coffins floating downstream.  It seems the coffins – which contained a mother and her child – surfaced after a major rainstorm further damaged the now-submerged Christ Church cemetery that used to lie on the bank of the creek.

The Christ Church parish formed before 1692 and has met in at least three churches.  The first of these was located just northwest of the once-thriving town of Port Tobacco, along the creek.  Following the destruction of the first, the congregation rebuilt its church on the Port Tobacco town square, and later moved to LaPlata as Port Tobacco withered economically.  But the original Christ Church cemetery interments (now underwater) were never moved from the site northwest of Port Tobacco.

One Maddox researcher believes that our Cornelius Maddox (1651-1705) and Benjamin Maddox (I) (1690-1773) were buried in the original Christ Church cemetery, but has provided no evidence.  We tend to believe the assertion, since Christ Church would have been the closest Anglican church to Cornelius’ and Benjamin’s lands and would be the logical place for burial.  But nobody has been able to produce a list of interments.

During a visit to the Port Tobacco Courthouse today, local historian Anita Barbour Gordon relayed her father’s account of hunting ducks while perching atop semi-submerged gravestones in the Christ Church cemetery.  Those stones are now fully submerged, and nothing remains of the place.


A sign near the current Port Tobacco Courthouse points toward the location of the second Christ Church location.  The original (Old Old Christ Church) location is in the opposite direction.


An 1895 photo shows Christ Church as it stood in Port Tobacco in the 19th century.  This stone church replaced the 17th-century original, which had stood to the northwest across Port Tobacco Creek.

The Inns of Port Tobacco


Three sons of our 8th great-grandfather Cornelius Maddox (1651-1705) – James, Edward and Walter – ran one of the inns in historic Port Tobacco, Maryland, before the Revolutionary War.  Numerous court records describe them as innkeepers in the town – once a thriving port, but now mostly overlooked by historians.  Port Tobacco had more than one inn, though, and we’ve never been able to pin the brothers to one specific inn.

I had the good luck of bumping into local Port Tobacco historians Anita Gordon and Sheila Smith at the historic Port Tobacco Courthouse today.  Sheila is a walking Charles County encyclopedia.  Anita and her father are responsible for the only collection of sketches of Port Tobacco’s buildings and layout (called “Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland, Prior to 1895”), and she’s now in the process of collecting the history of Port Tobacco’s inns.  Anita is trying to understand how many there were before the Revolution, and who ran them.  I was glad to add the Maddox brothers’ names.

We’re eager to know which of the inns that Jim, Edward and Walter might have run, and what dramas might have unfolded there (Port Tobacco attracted Declaration of Independence signers and other luminaries).  We’ve always assumed they ran the St. Charles Inn (a.k.a. Brawner Inn, a.k.a. Chandler Inn), which was closely affiliated with the Brawner family, since the Maddoxes and the Brawners were intermarried at the time.  But there were at least three inns in Port Tobacco at the time  and none of the inns is specifically mentioned in the Maddox records.


A map of Port Tobacco from the sketches in James Barbour and Anita Gordon’s book.  The St. Charles Inn is at the upper left.