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.