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2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

Research into the genealogy and family history of all persons with the surname MEDLOCK and variant MADLOCK. The study began in 2004 and I have steadily accumulated data from on-line sources, from contacts and from archives (in the UK). Data accumulation and analysis for England is now progressing very well and that for Scotland recently received a major boost when I was able to visit Edinburgh Archives. That for other countries (e.g. USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden etc.) is also progressing. I am indebted to all contacts who have helped me in the past and who continue to do so.

Medlock Generations Newsletters:
The first two editions of the 'MEDLOCK GENERATIONS' newsletters (July 2012 & March 2013) have been produced. They have been emailed/posted to my contacts, except those whose email addresses have changed or where I, or they, are no longer a member of the website where first contact was made. I urge those who have been in contact with me in the past, but not received the newsletters, to contact me.

Medlock Get-to-Gethers:
There will be informal get-togethers in Tempsford, Bedfordshire on August 17th and in Eltisley, Cambridgeshire on August 18th. Details are in Medlock Generations Newsletter 2. Places are limited for some activities. The deadline was 12th April 2013, however there are remaining places. So contact me!

Variant names

Medlock and Madlock(e) are registered with the Guild and data on the occurrence of these is being systematically collected.

Spelling & other possible variants - no data is being collected on these at present (except Medlocks and Modlock):

Medlocks, Medlook, Meadlock (an expected variant given the 'meadow' link to the surname (i.e. suffix 'med' / 'mead' = meadow), Modlock, Mudlock, Metlock, Medlicott (this is a locative surname from Medlicott, Salop, meaning 'dweller in the cottage by the meadow' - I do not consider this to be a Medlock variant), Maddocke:, Meadock, Meddock, Meddocke, Meddocks, Meddox

Matlock (another locative surname from Matlock/Matlock Bath, Derbyshire) - not considered to be a variant of Medlock in the UK but strong support for this as a spelling variant in the USA including a DNA study:

Name origin

It is often wrongly assumed that 'Medlock' is a locative surname derived from a place name i.e. the River Medlock, near Manchester, England (once a very polluted river due to the industrial revolution, but now, after much restoration, most of the Medlock Valley and River are now very attractive). There is strong evidence that the surname Medlock evolved from the, now very rare, surname 'Madlock', in the village of Eltisley in Cambridgeshire.

The name MEDLOCK (referring specifically to the River Medlock) means 'meadow stream' or 'the river that flows through a meadow'. The Old English (O.E.) word for 'meadow' was 'med' as in the O.E. 'meduwyrt' and later 'medaewart' or meadowsweet (a wild flower). As with other surnames with the prefix 'Med'/'Mead', e.g. Medland/Meadland ('dweller by the meadow land') and Meadows ('dweller by the meadow'), the name Medlock has a 'meadow' connection. In O.E., the main flow of a river was called the 'midlac' (the full or middle stream); 'lac', 'lacu' or 'lacau' meant 'stream'. The river Medlock is recorded as often being 'in spate' (i.e. flooding the meadows) - in the 17th century it was recorded that the journey from Ashton-under-Lyne to Manchester was difficult because of the flooding of the river Medlock. So, the O.E. word 'medlacu', 'medlac' or 'medelac' (meadow stream) has been suggested as the probable source of the river-name MEDLOCK.

'Place Names of Lancashire', provides later references. By 1322, medelac had evolved into 'medlake' or 'medeloke' (Lancashire Inquests, Extants and Feudal Aids). And, in c.1540, into 'medlok', (The Itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-43; Ed. Lucy Toulmin Smith, London 1907).

There is a reference in 'The Description of Britaine' by William Harrison in the Holinsheads Chronicle, 1577 to the river 'medocke'. The change in spelling was perhaps due to association with 'lock' (a lock being an enclosed body of water such as a river or canal - not quite the modern meaning of the word). However, the suffix 'lock' had many meanings. It was used along with laik or lake to mean 'to play' and a 'madlock' was a 'wild, giddy person'! (it's not surprising that Madlocks from Eltisley in Cambridge wanted to change their surname to Medlock!). In Lancashire, if men were not working down the pit (coalmine), i.e. taking a shift off, then people would ask 'are you laiking/lakeing today?' Perhaps the word laik developed from the O.E. lacau to mean someone who was 'in spate' like the river and going a bit wild! So there we have it - the probable evolution of the river name Medlock. However, people living around the river Medlock do not seem to have acquired that name, i.e. 'Medlock' does not appear to be a locative surname. In Parish Registers and in the 1841/1851 Censuses, for example, there aren't the Medlock's in or around Manchester that you would expect. Instead, they were concentrated in the counties of Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, and Northamptonshire - all a long way from the river Medlock but, interestingly, in areas prone to flooding. It is possible that Medlocks employed on the land in these areas originally came from the Manchester area (and all of them left? - this seems unlikely) or acquired the name of Medlock or variant by association with their work on meadow land and originated not from the Manchester area but from various locations in the above counties. If such were the case, then DNA analysis could reveal that there are several un-related lines of people with the surname Medlock and finding this out is one of the future aims of THE MEDLOCK ONS.

Name frequency

The numbers of individuals with the surname Medlock in the Censuses for England & Wales were:

1841: 202
1851: 247 - 22% increase from 1841.
1861: 273 - 11% increase from 1851.
1871: 327 - 20% increase from 1861.
1881: 461 - 41 % increase from 1871. A frequency of <0.00156% of the population.
1891: 473 - 2.6% increase from 1881.
1901: 602 - 27 % increase from 1891.
1911: 696 - 16 % increase from 1901.

The above figures do not necessarily agree with figures quoted on genealogy websites. This is because, to arrive at the above figures, the original census image for each individual has been checked and cross-referenced with adjacent censuses and birth records and errors & omissions identified and corrected.

Distribution of the name

In the 1881 census there were the following number of individuals with the surname Medlock in each county in England: Middlesex = 84; Bedfordshire = 63; Norfolk = 62; Yorkshire, West Riding = 44; Huntingdonshire = 43; Northamptonshire = 31; Cambridgeshire = 32; Lancashire = 27; Kent = 13; Lincolnshire = 12; Surrey = 12; Sussex = 11; Yorkshire, East Riding = 5; Hertfordshire = 2; and 1 each in the City of London, Jersey, Devonshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Warwickshire.

Although there were more in Middlesex than elsewhere, their density within Middlesex was low, at 3 Medlocks per 100,000 population - they did not originate there! Many moved from e.g. Tempsford in Bedfordshire and elsewhere after the building of the railways in the ~1850s. The most densely populated county was Huntingdonshire with 74 Medlocks per 100,000, followed by Bedfordshire (42 per 100,000), then Cambridgeshire (16 per 100,000) and Norfolk (14 per 100,000).


THE MEDLOCK ONS has developed rapidly since it's start in 2004. Systematic collection of UK data on Births, Marriages & Deaths since 1837 is complete for all of the years for which figures are available online. Pre-1837 Baptisms, Marriages and Burials from Parish Registers is progressing frustratingly slowly - a number of serious errors have been found due to me using transcriptions early on and resulted in much confusion. I now rely only on images of the original records and have made considerable progress for the county of Norfolk as a result of the release of records on All Censuses for England & Wales (1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 & 1911) are complete. My records are mostly held on computers, with multiple backups. I made the transition from Windows computers to Mac's years ago and recently (bravely?) decided to abandon Microsoft Office, using 'Pages' as a replacement for Word (files are interchangeable between the two), but replacing Excel on my ageing Mac G5 (Power PC) is causing some head-scratching as I do not want the current version of Microsoft Office on my MacBook Pro. I use Reunion Family Tree software on my G5 but have not upgraded to a later version that is compatible with my MacBook Pro.

A small but growing number of pedigrees supplied by Medlock researchers forms a very valuable part of the collection - helping me to link the generations. Data on other countries is progressing slowly. Some contacts in the USA and Canada have proved very useful but more are welcome. An attempt at systematic data collection from the USA, starting with very early records, has commenced but some help with this would be very welcome.

Unwanted copies of birth, marriage and death certificates relating to Medlocks (and variants) are always very gratefully received. Any information supplied to THE MEDLOCK ONS will be indexed to show the source and will not be transmitted to third parties without approval.


My Y-DNA Project with was met with disappointingly little interest by those that I was keen to get onboard, likewise with my Google Group, which I have abandoned. DNA Heritage has now been absorbed by I do not intend starting a new UK-focused study. However, I will reconsider this if strong interest is shown by male Medlock contacts. There is an existing US Medlock/Matlock study registered with for anyone interested.