Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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MADOCKS , WILLIAM ALEXANDER ( 1773 - 1828 ), industrialist and philanthropist .

Born 17 June 1773 (according to N.L.W. MS. 10590 ), third son of John Madocks , Fron Iw, Denbs. ( J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees 315). He went to Jesus College , Oxford ( 1790 ), and became Fellow of All Souls , Oxford , 1794 , Radical M.P. for Boston , 1802-18 , and Chippenham , 1820-6 . His scrapbooks display an interest in the careers of such men as Alexander and Columbus , Plutarch 's heroes, engineers , inventors , etc. While living at Dolmelynllyn , near Dolgelley , he read in the Tours of Thomas Pennant , of the plans of Sir John Wynn of Gwydir , to enclose Traeth Mawr , between Aberglaslyn and the sea.

Having inherited much wealth from his father, he bought Tanrallt Estate , Penmorfa , in 1798 . He enclosed 1,000 acres of Traeth Mawr , and built Tremadoc ; then obtained an Act of Parliament in 1807 to raise an embankment across the Traeth to enclose 3,000 acres more. He made a road alongside it connecting London and Portinllaen ; he had obtained an Act in 1806 to construct a harbour at Portinllaen , but failed to have it adopted as mail packet station for Dublin . He projected a shorter road to London through Dolgelley , Welshpool , and Worcester . In 1821 he obtained an Act to make a port at the end of the embankment , and this was named Portmadoc . He planned a railway along the embankment to carry slates from Ffestiniog to Portmadoc , and this plan was accomplished in 1831 by Samuel Holland . He was a pronounced Radical , and advocated Parliamentary Reform .

His affairs went wrong, and he went to Paris , where he d. in 29 Sept. 1828, and where he was also buried . His wife, Eliza Anne , whom he married in 1818, was the grand-daughter of Joseph Harris ( 1704 - 1764 ) of Trevecka .


  • Walter Davies , General view of the agriculture and domestic economy of North Wales containing the counties of Anglesey, Caernarvon, Denbigh, Flint, Meirionydd, Montgomery. Drawn up and published by order of the Board of Agriculture and Internal Improvement (London, 1810) , 1813 ;
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Edward Davies , Hanes Porthmadog (1913) ;
  • NLW MS 10590;
  • Cylchgrawn Cymdeithas Hanes y Methodistiaid Calfinaidd , xxiii, 118-23 (by D. R. Hughes );
  • Elizabeth Beazley, Madocks and the Wonder of Wales ;
  • R. T. Jenkins, ‘Etifeddion Harrisiaid Trefeca’ in Yng nghysgod Trefeca: Ysgrifau ar hanes crefydd a chymdeithas yng Nghymru yn y ddeunawfed ganrif (Caernarfon, 1968).


David Thomas, O.B.E., M.A., (1880-1967), Bangor

Published date: 1959