Select Madison Surname Genealogy

Madison, commonly spelled Maddison in NE England, is a variant of the Mathieson surname that is found in NE Scotland and means “son of Matthew.”  The name may also in some cases have stood for “son of Maddy” where Maddy is a pet form of Maud.

Maddison and Madison
are the two main surname spellings today, Maddison in the UK and Madison in America. Madison also became popular in America as a first name.

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Select Madison Ancestry

EnglandMaddison is a Durham name.  Durham accounted for almost half of the UK Maddisons in the 1881 census.

The Madysones at Ellergill in Weardale dated from around 1300.  William Madyson held Unthank Hall near Stanhope through marriage in the 1400’s.  Later Maddisons were to be found at Newcastle and Saltwellside:
  • Lionel Maddison was mayor of Newcastle three times between 1593 and 1617.
  • while Ralph Maddison, known as Mad Maddison, inherited Saltwellside manor in 1640.
Subsequently the Maddison family – based at Hole House on the river Derwent - was a respected family in the area.  George Maddison and his brother John both held prominent diplomatic positions with the British government in the late 18th century.

There were Maddisons elsewhere.  Thomas and Ruth Maddison were married at Whickham near Gateshead in 1722. They ended up at the coal mining town of Tanfield in the north of the county.  James Maddison and his son George were working at the colliery there at the time of the 1851 census.

During the 19th century coal mining had become a major industry in Durham.  It was in fact the leading work occupation for Maddisons in the 1881 census.  George Maddison died at the Lumley colliery of knee injuries that year.

.  There was a Maddison outpost, descended from the Unthank Maddisons, further south in Lincolnshire.  Sir Edward Maddison, a merchant at Hull and Calais, was a supporter of Henry VIII and he established his family at Caistor.  His son Ralph built Grimblethorpe Hall in the Lincolnshire Wolds in the early 1600’s and the Maddison family was to remain there until the 1940’s.

The spelling in America has been Madison, not Maddison, and that dates from an early time.

.  Isaac and John Madison were part of the early history of Virginia.  Whether they were father and son is unclear:
  • Captain Isaac Madison came out to Virginia from London as early as 1608.  He gained a reputation as an Indian fighter.  He lived through the Indian massacre in 1622, but died two years later.  His wife Mary, who came to Jamestown on the Treasurer in 1616, survived him. 
  • while John Madison from Gloucestershire, a ship’s carpenter by trade, was first recorded in Virginia in 1653 for taking out a patent for lands lying between the York and North rivers.
The Madison pedigree thereafter is fairly clear.  From John’s son John Madison Jr sprung two branches of the Madison family in Virginia: 
  • the eastern branch, those who settled in the Piedmont on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, descended from the tobacco planter Ambrose Madison.  Ambrose died a young man in 1732, suspected of having been poisoned by one or more of his slaves. 
  • his grandson James Madison, who grew up in the family plantation, was to serve as the fourth President of the United States from 1809 to 1817.  James and his wife Dolley did not have children and in his will his estate was left to his nephews and nieces.   
  • the main line from James’s younger brother Francis ran to his son Conway who headed west, first to Kentucky and then to Illinois.  Conway’s children inherited most in the President’s will.
  • the western branch of the family via John Madison, the first clerk of Augusta county, gave rise to the Rev. James Madison, the first Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, and to John and Agatha Madison who emigrated to Kentucky in the 1780’s.  Their son George was elected Governor of Kentucky in 1816 but died the same year.
  • also on this side of the family was James’s younger brother John Frederick, a Loyalist in the Revolutionary War who departed for Nova Scotia where he was given a land grant.  His son Peyton, however, returned to Greene county, Alabama in 1815 and John followed him later.
Elsewhere.  William and Sarah Madison from Lincolnshire were later arrivals to America, coming to Wisconsin in 1848 and then homesteading in Nobles county, Minnesota.  Their son William grew up in Worthington there.  He was the proprietor of the Worthington meat market and later the town’s mayor.

Select Madison Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Madison Names

Lionel Maddison was Mayor of Newcastle three times between 1593 and 1617.
Rev. James Madison was in 1778 the President of William and Mary College and also the first Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Virginia.
James Madison
was one of America’s Founding Fathers and served as the fourth President of the United States from 1809 to 1817

Select Madisons/Maddisons Today
  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous in Durham)
  • 11,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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