W. A. Madocks Letters

Scope and Content

Letters of W. A. Madocks and John Williams, [1805]-1855, including letters of Madocks to Williams, [1805]-1828, and others, 1823-1828; letters to John Williams, 1812-1845, many relating to the repair of the Embankment, 1812; letters and copy letters of John Williams, 1812-1845; correspondence of John Williams with his brother in law, David Williams, 1837-1844; and miscellaneous Williams family letters, 1840-1855.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Alexander Madocks (1773-1828) was an industrialist and philanthropist. The son of John and Frances Madocks of Fron Iw, Denbighshire, he was born in London and educated at Jesus College, Oxford. He was MP for Boston, Lincolnshire, 1802-1818, and Chippenham, Wiltshire, 1820-1826. Madocks was also interested in civil engineering. In 1798, with wealth inherited from his father, he bought the Tanrallt estate, Dolbenmaen, Caernarfonshire, and built an embankment and the town of Tremadog, Ynyscynhaearn. He obtained an Act in 1807 to raise a second Embankment (known as the Cob) across Traeth Mawr, reclaiming 3000 acres from the sea. He built a road alongside it as part of an abortive scheme to connect a new harbour at Porthdinllaen with London; it had to be repaired after storm damage in 1812. Madocks obtained another Act in 1821 to build the town and port of Porthmadog, Ynyscynhaearn, at the north end of the Traeth Mawr embankment. By this time Madocks was facing financial difficulties. In 1826 he went Europe on holiday but died in Paris on 15 September 1828. Porthmadog itself became a vibrant port, exporting slate around the world. John Williams ([1778]-[c. 1850]) of Anglesey was Madocks' agent and steward at Porthmadog and continued his work, with his brother-in-law, David Williams.


Arranged chronologically. The number scheme was revised from that of cataloguing as BJC/168 to accommodate additional correspeondence.

Access Information

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Compiled by Rhys Jones for the ANW project. The following sources were used in the compilation of this description: Caernarfon Record Office, W. A. Madocks Letters, catalogue; Dictionary of Welsh Biography down to 1940 (London, 1959); Beazley, Elisabeth, Madocks and the Wonder of Wales (London, 1967).

Other Finding Aids

Hard copies of the catalogue are available at Caernarfon Record Office and Meirionnydd Archives. The catalogue is available online.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual copyright regulations apply

Appraisal Information

All records have been retained. The fonds was previously catalogued at Caernarfon Record Office as BJC/168.


Accruals are not expected

Related Material

Further papers are in Caernarfon Record Office, XM/10036, and National Library of Wales, Portmadoc MSS and Papers.


Beazley, Elisabeth, Madocks and the Wonder of Wales (London, 1967)