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.