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Maddox Tours South Wales

Wales Tour Maddox genealogy

Touring South Wales

A Maddox searches for Samuel's roots

by Larry Maddox of Liberty MO, who has traveled extensively in Maryland and Wales in search of his roots.  He takes us with him on a recent trip the motherland of America's most well documented Maddox ancestor who arrived here in 1665.  Larry's trip was to take him in search of Samuel's ancestors.  Read on for his description, and also read about his trip to St. Mary's Maryland, home of progenitor Samuel Maddox.  (Note this page is graphics's worth the wait!)

Wales is as green as the map here which shows our trip.  In the inset map, you can see the entire British Isles, set off of the coast of France.  London is in the eastern part of England and our road trip took us southwesterly to Wales.  The larger map is Wales itself.  This trip took us to south Wales, where the Samuel line of Maddox finds it roots.  While signs of Madoc can be found elsewhere, including the northern tip, this line comes from the south, near the large Welsh city of Brecon.  There were Maddox's and Madoc's found all around Brecon and our trip took us on the A40 highway (the southern-most roadway from England into Wales, through Brecon, and west of there.)  Most of the scenes are found within the the left side of the red box in this map.)

We arrived In London's Heathrow airport and drove by rental car to Wales.  The distance between London and Wales is not far in miles but it is in time.  Worth it?  Oh yes.  As soon as you arrive in Wales there are castles and old Roman ruins to visit.  (Seen left is one such ruin from behind a picturesque window.)

We had decided that this trip would be a serious genealogy trip.  I only wish that thirty years ago when, as a young serviceman, I first visited Wales, I knew what I knew now.  My English wife and I were in search of our lines this time.  To her, this trip to see 800 year old churches and graveyards was not such a big deal but her help was valuable anyway to this midwesterner.  And another valuable asset in my search was a rare book by Theophilus Jones, "A History of the County of Brednock."   I would use it to find Maddox heritage in quite a bit of what we saw.  It would help us know where to look and where to stop.

Madoc/Maddox homes

We travel through strange sounding places like Chepstow, Caerleon, Caerphilly and on through valleys and villages.  Old mining towns named that would tie the American tongue, "Abergavenny, and Crickhowell."  At last, Tretower Court, we catch sight of an ancient Lewis family home.  We travel on to Bwich ('pass' in Welsh) which is a gap in the Black Mountains to the Usk Valley.  What a view!  As soon as we topped the hill, we wondered how many times our ancestors have seen this vista.

Here, shown at right, I can see the Bucklands... in a valley nestled in the trees, is an ancient home of Maddock, Madoc, Maddox the Games, Jones, and Watkins.  It looms very large at the base of the hill.  It's now a retreat house.  Rebuilt many times, but in 1626, Evan Madoc was in possession of a house, barn and Bake house called Bucklands.

There is another property, set in this lush land I must show you.  Eight to ten miles north of Brecon, in a very small valley between two hills is Castle Madoc--a very large, white manor house on spacious green grounds.  The manor house is surrounded by a stone wall and on the wall is a small plaque with the name, "Castell Madoc Farm."  There is no question it is part of our heritage.  This home has belonged to the Powell family for a very long time.  To find the Maddox connection in history, I consulted my Jones history book.  "Castell Madoc".  Either from Madoc the third brother of Bleddin Ap Maenarch, or from Madoc the third son of David Ap Rhys y Ddimau, who married one of the daughters of Watkin Vaughn, grandson of Sir Rodger Vaughn of Tretowe Court.  The present house was built by Thomas Powell in 1588.
The architecture is so old world.  At right, another scene of an outbuilding behind the manor house, which once belonged to our Maddox ancestors.  It was not a small property, of course, but the contrast of it, white brick surrounded by Welsh greenery was a picture postcard in my camera for you.  Imagine living here!  I had seen this Castell Madoc on all my maps and this manor was on my list of 'must see' locations in south Wales.

Magnificent Welsh churches

The memorable impression one gets of Wales is its lush land, scattered homes like we have seen, and churches older than America itself.   The churches are magnificent.  I show this small one to you simply so you can enjoy its design.  This one was locked up tight.  We searched the graveyard and found no Maddoxes, but a few Begans.  There are so many mysteries to pique the genealogist and draw us to future trips.  The Brecon Library is a very good source of information for it contains many rare and old books, including Hugh Thomas' Essay Towards the History of Brecknockshire (1698), The People's History of Brecon by Edwin Poole (1876),  and Brecnock Monumental Inscriptions of the 16th and 17th Centuries, transcribed by Hugh Thomas (1699-1704.)  There are numerous references to the Madoc/Maddox ancestors in these works.

Evidence of Maddox

I save the best for last, because you know, the nuggets of genealogical evidence do not come to travelers immediately.  They take effort.  As we traveled on the highway with the Usk River on the left, we came to a hill and right on the top is Llansaintfread Church.

This was a serious find on our search for Maddox roots.  On past the old farms and homes where our ancestors lived, we find the Village of Scethrog.  Only a few buildings remain but we are able to tour the church and its grounds.  It was locked, as most of them were,  but we borrowed the key from the house next door.

There are graves outside--more recent ones.  But inside, into the very walls and floor of the churches, that's where the early ancestors can be found.  The church was dark and we looked at the walls where the genealogy of the dead is listed--literally in stone.  We were looking for evidence of Samuel Maddox's father, John Maddox.  We found one left in the doorway behind the organ.  It said Thomas Maddock, 1618.   Surely an ancestor but we don't know which one, or what relationship.  And a thrill, under the carpet behind the organ...a Madoc, 1607.  We put some water on the faded words to bring them out so we could read them.   Notice in the photo of a wall in this church, a few lines from the top, "Gwladis, married Thomas Maddock, Lord of Scethrock".   These are kin to Samuel Maddox, of Maryland, ancestor to so many thousands of Maddoxes, including myself.   It's pretty amazing

The reason why we seem to find so much surviving lineage from Wales, more than even some of the later Maddoxes of the United States, is that the Welsh custom was to bury their dead and list their lineage on their very tombstones.  All these centuries, some of this lineage is preserved in stone both inside, in the walls of the old churches, and outside.  It would seem the stone lineage of Wales endures more than the written paper documents found recorded in wooden courthouses of the early United States!   American courthouses burned to the ground, taking records with them.  But the stone monuments of Wales have endured in tiny churches nestled away in the countryside.


Understand, our ancestors and the ancient townspeople aren't always where their stones mark them.  The Victorians a century ago did indeed move many of the stones.  Luckily, we have some documentation before these practices, such as the Jones history, so we know that within the communion rails of the Llanfrynach church, is the grave stone of Thomas ap John Maddox, who died 9 October 1616.  Who knows where the old stones lie today, possibly up against the stone walls surrounding the church yard along with hundreds of others of stones, all overgrown with weeds.

It would be so nice if I could find for myself, firm connection Samuel Maddox of Maryland, himself.  But he left Wales and I have not found his name in any wills...after all, who would leave mention of property in a will to a man who left Wales to live his life in the New World?  As I travel to Wales time and again, I know I'm close.  I have not found the definitive link yet, and perhaps I never will.   I have early writings  to tell me who these ancestors were but I have personally found no documents on the Wales side of the ocean to validate them.  Only stone monuments in out-of-the-way churches of the generations just before Samuel's immigration.  No, I have not found the house where Samuel Maddox of Maryland was born in Wales.  I  know I'm near where my ancestor lived as a youngster before he came to America.  I was near where his father, and grandfather before him, lived their lives.  It's worth the trips by this American in search of his roots to such a beautiful place.   I hope this photo tour gives you some insight to what draws me here, and helps you visualize what it is like.  These are our roots.

Larry Maddox