Madden, Samuel Molyneux (‘Premium Madden ’) (1686–1765), writer and philanthropist, was born in Dublin on 23 December 1686, the second son of John Madden MD (d. 1703), one of the original members of the Irish College of Physicians, and his first wife, Mary Molyneux (d. 1695), sister of William Molyneux (qv) and Thomas Molyneux (qv) (1661–1733). Samuel entered TCD on 28 February 1700, graduating BA (1705) and DD (1723). His father died and he inherited the estate at Manor Waterhouse, Co. Fermanagh, while still an undergraduate. After ordination he obtained a living in the nearby parish of Galloon (which included Newtownbutler, the nearest place to the family estate), to which was added (in 1727) the adjacent parish of Drumully, which was in the gift of the Madden family.
Having succeeded to his inheritance and livings, Madden embarked on a literary career. In 1729 he published Themistocles, the lover of his country, a verse tragedy in five acts, which played with considerable success at Lincoln's Inn Fields in London. In its published form it went through three editions in one year. In 1730 he submitted to TCD a plan for the encouragement of learning, which involved the establishment of premiums or grants of no less that £230, which he proposed to raise by subscription and taxing undergraduates. Madden contributed generously himself, to the tune of £600, and his scheme, with some modifications, was adopted by the university.
In 1733 he anonymously produced his Memoirs of the twentieth century, a satire, in which the fictitious author, a Jacobite, was promised that his descendants would flourish under the Hanoverians, and that one would become prime minister at the end of the twentieth century. Originally intended for publication in six volumes, only one of which ever appeared, it was dedicated to Frederick, prince of Wales, estranged son of George II, to whom Madden may have served as tutor and with whom he carried on a correspondence. A thousand copies were produced but nine hundred were soon afterwards delivered to the author and probably destroyed. Although no explanation is given for the suppression of the work, it may have had something to do with the fact that the Memoirs went to press as the war of the Polish succession (1733–5) was beginning, which considerably altered the political situation in Europe in favour of the exiled Stuarts. This, combined with the quasi-Jacobite activities of the hero and his indirect criticism of the church, may have seemed inappropriate in a book dedicated to Frederick and could explain why Madden destroyed the majority of the print run before the work could go into circulation. Only a handful of copies survive, including one that belonged to Charles James Fox, the whig politician.
Madden is best remembered for his Reflections and resolutions proper for the gentlemen of Ireland, as to their conduct for the service of their country (1738), in which he bewailed endemic absenteeism, the state to which the country had sunk, and the profligacy and idleness of its people. He encouraged the founding of enterprises to manufacture hemp and flax and advocated setting up schools and professorships of agriculture. He also promoted the building of impressive family seats and advocated changes in contemporary architectural design, promoting the use of stucco in place of wainscoting and plaster in place of wood. Many of Madden's ideas came to fruition through the activities of the Dublin Society, of which his brother John was a founder member in 1731 and with which he cooperated to promote a spirit of improvement among the gentry. He also invested large sums of money in these schemes and prompted many others to emulate his generosity. Less well known are his radical ideas regarding the Roman catholic clergy and the colonies: he proposed the payment of catholic clergy and sang the praises of the young Benjamin Franklin's Proposal for promoting useful knowledge among the British plantations in America, warning that ‘nothing but ruin and disgrace’ could result from the continual mismanagement of the colonies.
Madden also produced quasi-religious and poetical works. In 1745, with the help of his friend the eminent lexicographer Samuel Johnson, he published a long panegyric poem in memory of Hugh Boulter (qv), the long-serving archbishop of Armagh and whig privy councillor, which he again dedicated to Frederick, prince of Wales. Madden undertook to write a history of Fermanagh, which he never completed, and composed a tragedy, which he bequeathed to the writer and controversial cleric Thomas Sheridan (qv) (1687–1738). He also penned an anonymous panegyric to Lord Chesterfield (qv) and prefixed a 200-line metrical epistle to the biography of Philip of Macedonia by Thomas Leland (qv).
Madden married Jane Magill (d. 1765) of Kirkstown, Co. Armagh, with whom he had five sons and five daughters. He died 31 December 1765 at Manor Waterhouse and was succeeded by his second son, also Samuel Molyneux Madden. His will, dated 1761, was proved in the prerogative court in 1776. Madden was highly esteemed by contemporaries, including Mrs Delany (qv), Dr Johnson, and Arthur Young (qv), who described him as ‘one of the most patriotic individuals which any country has ever produced’ (Lewis, 100). During Madden's lifetime it was proposed to erect a statue in his honour as the scheme was alluded to in a public speech by Thomas Sheridan.
There are two three-quarter length portraits of Madden, one at Hilton Park, Scotshouse, Co. Monaghan, another in the NGI; a third portrait is in a private collection owned by the Madden family. The RDS possesses a marble bust by John van Nost. There are also prints of Madden in the NLI, the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the British Museum.