More plantations: the Madan Family

Following my previous Skeletons in the closet post, this is the first of a new series that looks at ancestor families with links to the slave trade. This one looks at the Madan family, but I think I may have got in a muddle about them. `I’ve now worked out that it was Martin Madan (1700 – 1756) who was the Colonel and MP, not his father who was also called Martin (1653 – 1704). The younger one married the English Poet Judith Cowper and they both have wiki entries (see his and hers):

Martin Madan the MP also has a biography on History of Parliament site, which explains that he was the 1st son of Martin Madan of Nevis, West Indies by Penelope, daughter of Col. Sir James Russell (member of the council of Nevis). The biography also explains that Martin Madan (the father) was from an old Waterford family, emigrated from Ireland to the West Indies about 1682 and acquired plantations in Nevis and St. Kitts.

The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery database hosted at UCL has a record for the younger Martin Madan, which explains how the details of his estate ownership are still being untangled but how his father’s will shows him being left a plantation called Russell’s (possibly named other his mother’s family):

Under the will of Martin Madan late of Nevis and now of London, Madan senior left to his eldest son [Col.] Martin Madan, then a minor, ‘over and above the plantation called Russells with the negroes thereunto belonging which myself and wife have settled on him by deed lately made in England’, a further £2000. He had also settled a further two unnamed estates on Nevis on his second son James Russell Madan (q.v.).

The record also goes on to show the following about the will of Martin Madan junior:

The will of Martin Madan of St George Hanover Square was proved 22/03/1756. in the will he rehearsed his purchase of six annuities yielding £50 p.a. for his younger children, and having ‘proffered’ his daughter Maria in marriage to William Cowper he redirected her annuity to her sister Penelope. Under his marriage articles, Martin Madan had committed an annuity of £400 p.a. to his wife Judith, secured on his estates in St Christophers and Nevis. He directed that his eldest son [Rev.] Martin Madan should have his income from the estates limited to £200 p.a. until the debts on them were cleared. He left the estates themselves in entail to his son [the Rev.] Martin Madan and his heirs, then to his second son and so on.

The Penelope mentioned above is my 6x gt. grandmother. She married Sir. Alexander Maitland, 1st Bt. I am not sure whether she retained those annuities when they married. I also haven’t found any direct Mailtand ancestors that have links to the slave trade (so far). But there are Maitland relatives who appear to have been, possibly including John Maitland, 1st Earl of Lauderdale (brother and uncle of my direct ancestors). That possibility seems to be based around his membership of the Royal English Merchant Adventurers Company, which was authorised to trade slaves, in addition to gold, ivory and other commodities. However, the current Earl argues that the earlier one did not trade slaves or receive any significant income from transactions in the slave trade (see more here).

Unlike the Perrin and Rooker families mentioned in my earlier post, I know a lot more about my Madan ancestors thanks to my not so distant cousin Rafael Alberto Madan who prepared an Ahnentafel for me that goes back to William Madan, Mayor of Waterford (born before 1350). I think these are my closest Irish ancestors I have been able to find, but there maybe some on my mother’s side. But the Ahnentafel may provide a clue as to why Martin Madan senior emigrated from Ireland to the West Indies about 1682 in the following information about his father Dr. Richard Madan (Abt 1611 – 1690):

Dr. Richard Madan was born circa 1611 (the oldest son and child (of five)), presumably in Waterford, of which he was a Freeman; he was a physician and long was the principal (and often the only) physician in the City, for which reason alone under Cromwell he was not expelled from the City and exiled beyond the English Pale as a Catholic. He appears on the Waterford census of 1641 (and those of 1659 and 1663/64), and was the owner of considerable property there (of which the preparer of this Ahnentafel (a descendant of his third son (Robert)) has record), and closely related by blood and marriage to the principal Catholic families of the City (e.g., Wyse, Sherlock, Comerford, Lumbard, Dobbyn, Browne, Fagan, Meyler, Walsh, Devereux). Under Cromwell, he was dispossessed of nearly all his property, despite its being legally entailed to him, and spent many years in litigation to fight Protestant Cromwellian and Williamite confiscation of it.

I am not sure how many siblings Martin Madan had and whether he had older male ones or not, but my guess is that his father being disposed of nearly all his property may have been a factor in his emigration from Ireland. There’s a couple of other things I noticed in the above including how it shows that Dr Richard Madan was a Catholic and closely related by blood and marriage to the principal Catholic families of the City (e.g., Wyse, Sherlock, Comerford, Lumbard, Dobbyn, Browne, Fagan, Meyler, Walsh, Devereux). That’s potentially a lot of other lines to explore, if not already included in the Ahnentafel.

What I also noticised is that Catholicism does not seem to have been continued by Martin Madan after his emigration from Ireland. For example, I haven’t seen anything about his wife’s Russell family being Catholic, nor the Cowper family his son Martin Madan junior married into. But what both their wiki records show is that two of the sons where Anglican clergy (see his and hers):

Their sons included Rev. Martin Madan, author of Thelyphthora a defence of polygamy, and the Right Rev. Spencer Madan, bishop successively of Bristol and Peterborough.

And the wiki offers another example of how “sometimes in family history research wandering down an unrelated byway reveals a story you could not have invented” (see previous post for more about this). The Judith Cowper in the portrait above was the daughter of the english lawyer and politician Spencer Cowper and Pennington Goodere. He has a wiki entry that mentions the The Sarah Stout Affair:

Cowper served on the Home circuit, and was acquainted with a Quaker family called Stout in Hertford, who had supported his father and brother during elections in the area. The Stout’s daughter Sarah fell in love with him, even though he was already married to Pennington Goodere.

One evening at the Spring assizes in March 1699, Cowper went to Sarah’s home to pay her the interest on a mortgage. He returned home and the next morning Sarah was found dead in the river. The prosecution asserted that because the body was floating when found, that it must have been put in the water after death. To challenge this idea, evidence was given by the famous physicians Samuel Garth and Hans Sloane. It appears that there was no other evidence to support the charge. The defendants were acquitted.

At the time different allegations were made concerning the affair, including the one that the Tories of Hertford wanted to hang a member of a prominent Whig family and another that the Quakers, wanted to clear themselves from the stigma of suicide. Pamphlets were published on both sides, and there was an unsuccessful attempt to reignite the case.

Sorry for my Tristan Shandy-like digression, but bringing this post back to ancestors with links to slavery I haven’t found any references to direct Cowper ancestors involved in the slave trade (so far). What I have found though is that Judith Cowper’s nephew William Cowper was a poet and hymnwriter. He also has a wiki entry that describes how he changed the direction of 18th-century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside (and that making him one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry with Samuel Taylor Coleridge calling him “the best modern poet”).

Given the theme of this series of recent posts, it is also interesting to note he also wrote a number of anti-slavery poems. And how his friendship with John Newton, the former slave owner turned avid anti-slavery campaigner who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace, resulted in Cowper being asked to write in support of the Abolitionist Campaign.

His wiki record also mentions his poem called “The Negro’s Complaint” (1788) and how it rapidly became very famous, not least for being often quoted by Martin Luther King Jr. during the 20th-century civil rights moment:

Forc’d from home, and all its pleasures,
  Afric’s coast I left forlorn;
To increase a stranger’s treasures,
  O’er the raging billows borne.
Men from England bought and sold me,
  Paid my price in paltry gold;
But, though theirs they have enroll’d me,
  Minds are never to be sold.

Still in thought as free as ever,
  What are England’s rights, I ask,
Me from my delights to sever,
  Me to torture, me to task?
Fleecy locks, and black complexion
  Cannot forfeit nature’s claim;
Skins may differ, but affection
  Dwells in white and black the same.

Why did all creating Nature
 Make the plant for which we toil?
Sighs must fan it, tears must water,
 Sweat of ours must dress the soil.
Think, ye masters, iron-hearted,
 Lolling at your jovial boards;
Think how many backs have smarted
 For the sweets your cane affords.

Is there, as ye sometimes tell us,
  Is there one who reigns on high?
Has he bid you buy and sell us,
  Speaking from his throne the sky?
Ask him, if your knotted scourges,
  Matches, blood-extorting screws,
Are the means that duty urges
  Agents of his will to use?

Hark! He answers!—Wild tornadoes,
  Strewing yonder sea with wrecks;
Wasting towns, plantations, meadows,
  Are the voice with which he speaks.
He, foreseeing what vexations
  Afric’s sons should undergo,
Fix’d their tyrants’ habitations
  Where his whirlwinds answer—No.

The wiki entry goes on to explain how he also wrote several other less well known poems on slavery in the 1780s, many of which attacked the idea that slavery was economically viable.

Whether any of this was aimed at his cousin Rev. Martin Madan is not known, because according to records at The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery he was a slave owner:

He was lessee of an estate from the Stapleton family on St Kitts but also tenant-for-life of an unnamed estate left to him by his father on which in his lifetime he added ‘negroes and stock’, either on Nevis or on St Kitts.

He wasn’t the only Anglican clergyman to have owned slaves, as evident by the Church of England calling its historic links to the UK’s slave trade “a source of shame” last year after the records mentioned above showed nearly 100 others had profited from it (see more here). At the same time, he can’t have been the only one of them to have close relative(s) either in the clergy itself or being active members of the Church of England who played a leading role in securing abolition. So it’s difficult to understand how he reconciled that ownership with his Christian beliefs even then.

Anyway, the above is not the first time I have seen ancestors and their close relatives on either side of different issues and conflicts, and that’s something I may come back to. But what I plan to try and do next is look at my Russell ancestors and their involvement in slavery. They seem to be connected to the estate ownership mentioned above that is still being untangled. I’ve explored them previously (see more here), but I noticed the following in connection with the Rev. Madan’s ownership of slaves:

The will of Martin Madan of Nevis (d. 1703) shows that he had settled the estate called Russell’s on his son Col. Martin Madan, then a minor. Col. Martin Madan died in 1756 [will proved 1757] bequeathing his estate in entail to his son, the Rev. Martin Madan. It is not yet clear how the Russell’s estate in these two wills relates to Madden’s/Russell’s Rest in the compensation records: Russell’s Rest is known to have been settled c. 1701 by Lady Stapleton (nee Frances Russell) on her younger son James Russell Stapleton, and half it, renamed Madan’s, passed to Penelope Madan nee Russell.

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146644071

Anyway, unravelling that is something I’ll look at next in the following post.

4 thoughts on “More plantations: the Madan Family

  1. Thank you for sending these interesting details of our Madan family. My maternal great grandfather was Cristobal de la Guardia y Madan (see attached). I have an old “Last Will & Testament” from Robert Madan hand written in 1794, from the Parish of St Marylebone, County Middlesex. It is written in Spanish mentioning his wife Ann Madan, his uncle Dominich Madan, his cousin Anthony Hearne, his cousin Richard Madan, and testified by William Langdon, Elizabeth Shepperd and Hannah Blackwell. Robert Madan was from County Waterford, Ireland, and he mentions his homes, lands and possessions. The handwriting is beautiful. In another document that I found, Cristobal became a US citizen in order to not pay taxes to the Spanish. (Cuba received its independence from Spain in 1898.). He was involved in the sugar trade with US and England. History is fascinating! If you find more on the genealogy of the Madan’s, I would love to hear of it. It would be great to map it out. Gratefully, Lucia Garcia-Iniguez Marshall

    On Tuesday, January 4, 2022, a tale of downward social mobility wrote:

    > Justin Kirby posted: ” Following my previous Skeletons in the closet post, > this is the first of a new series that looks at ancestor families with > links to the slave trade. This one looks at the Madan family, but I think I > may have got in a muddle about them. `I’ve now worked o” >

  2. Lucia, thanks for the comments. Pretty much everything I know about Madan ancestors came from my not too distant cousin Rafael Alberto Madan whose family I think emigrated to the USA from Cuba and remained very much Catholic. I met him over a decade ago when he came to London. Everything else I have found out I’ve hopefully linked to sources in various posts on here.

  3. Justin: I hope very much that you and your family all are well.

    You write: “I am not sure how many siblings Martin Madan had and whether he had older male ones or not” and add “I also noticised is that Catholicism does not seem to have been continued by Martin Madan after his emigration from Ireland. For example, I haven’t seen anything about his wife’s Russell family being Catholic, nor the Cowper family his son Martin Madan junior married into. ”

    YOUR ancestor, Martin Madan (+1704) had three older brothers: (in age order) Patrick (+1696, without issue), John (+ bef. 1696, without issue), and Robert (+1728, MY ancestor). He also had two (younger) half-sisters, Margaret and Mary, both of whom had issue. It appears that your ancestor, Martin (+1704), who appears to have arrived in Nevis in late 1682 or early 1683, still was a Catholic as of 1689, when he was deported to Jamaica in August or so, for being an Irish Catholic. Before the end of that year, however, by Royal Warrant, he was allowed to return to Nevis. Whether apostasy was the price he had to pay for this warrant or the price he had to pay to marry his beloved, Penelope Russell, we know not; but he certainly had left the Faith and become an Anglican by the time of his marriage (ca. summer 1698). (The Tyrrells, Russells, and Cowpers–all ancestors of yours–were certainly not Catholic.) Robert Madan (Martin’s elder brother) and his descendants remained firm Catholics (and remain so–at least all the ones that I know–even to this day).

    I do hope to get back to England again, one day. Perhaps you and Hugo and I can get together again, then–and once more enjoy drinks, a good meal, and wide-ranging conversation. I should like that very much. (Whether you and he could bear my idle prattling again is another matter, which I shall pass over with decorous silence….) Do, please, send him my regards. –Rafe

    1. Huge thanks for the additional info about Madan family Rafe. Really interesting to find out more about my Irish ancestors. It’s probably not a big surprise but neither Cromwell in Ireland or early Colonies in West Indies were part of history curriculum when I was a lad, so I have quite a bit of reading to do. Anyway, would be great to catch-up when you are over again. I’m on same email so just please drop me a line closer to when you plan to head over and I’ll let Hugo know. Best and cheers Justin.

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