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The Scottish Nation

MAXWELL, a surname of ancient standing in Scotland, originally Maccus-well, so called from the territory of that name on the Tweed, near Kelso. In the history of the Anglo-Saxons mention is made of Maccus, the son of Anlaf, king of Northumbria (949-952). Anlaf was surnamed Cwiran, and appears to be identical with the Amlaf Cuarran whose name occurs in the Annals of Ulster (944-946). On the expulsion of Anlaf by the treachery of his people, King Eric, a son of the Danish king, Harald Blatánd, was set on the Northumbrian throne, but, with his son Henry and his brother Regnald, was slain in the wilds of Stanmore, by the hand of Maccus, the son of Anlaf. (Leppenberg’s History of England under the Anglo Saxon Kings. Thorpe’s Translation, vol. i. p. 125, London, 1845.) A potentate of the same name, “Maccus of Man and the Hebrides,” is also mentioned somewhat later in the same century. The following is from Lappenberg, “On making his annual sea-voyage round the island, King Edgar found, on his arrival at Chester, eight sub-kings awaiting him, in obedience to the commands they had received, who swore to be faithful to him, and to be his fellow-workers by sea and land.” These were Kenneth of Scotland, Malcolm of Cumbria, Maccus of Man and the Hebrides, Dyfnwall or Dunwallon of Strat Clyde, Siferth, Iago (Jacob) and Howell of Wales, and Inchill of Westmorland. All these vassals rowed the proud Basileus on the river Dee in a barge, of which Edgar was the steersman, to the monastery of St. John the Baptist, where they offered up their orisons, and then returned in the same order to the palace.”

The same in substance is mentioned in the Chronica de Melros, which styles Maccus the ‘King of many Isles.” Roger of Wendover and William of Malmesbury also relate the same, the latter of whom calls Maccus “that Prince of pirates,” thus identifying him with Mascusius Archipirata, who about the same time (973) was a witness to a charter by King Edgar of England, and who signs immediately after “Kinadius rex Albanie” and the royal family, and before all the bishops, “Ego Mascusius Archipirata confortavi.” (Dugdale Monast. Vol. i. p. 17.) This Marcuss would therefore appear to have been a friend or ally of Kenneth king of the Scots, and may have held lands under him.

The name of Maks or Max in medieval Latin Macus, is found in Domesday Book as being that of a baron holding several manors in England before the conquest; and Mexborough in Yorkshire, and Maxstoke in Warwickshire, still preserve the memorial of his residence and possessions. The latter, Maxsoke, is said to have belonged to Almundus, or Ailwynd, the same name, no doubt, as Undewyn, as the father of Maccus, hereafter mentioned, was called. The saltire cognizance of the Maxwells appears on the ceiling of the ancient priory of Maxsoke, along with many others of Norman descent, but without name.

At an early period extensive possessions on the Tweed had been held by a person of the name of Maccus, from whom Maccuston (Maxton) and Maccus-well (Maxwell) were designated. Maccus-well has been supposed originally to have been called Maccus-ville, but the old chartularies give no countenance to this supposition. Maccuswel or Maccuswell means evidently the pool, weil, or well of Maccus, (Saxon, wylle, see charters in Saxon in Dugdale, where the word is translated fons, a well), probably from his having a right of fishing there; in the same way as other fishings on the Tweed, as the fishings of Schipwell or Sipwell (Lib. de Melros, Tom. i. pp. 16, 17), and of Blackwell, (Reg. Cart. De Kelso, pp. 33, 44, &c). Probably long before the time of David I., the name came to be given to the adjoining territory and church, in the same way that it was afterwards called Maxwell-heugh, from another natural characteristic, probably coincident with the well or pond of former times.

The origin of the family who held the lands of Maccus-well, in or before the time of David I., is doubtful. The opinion generally entertained at the present time is that they were directly descended from Maccus, from whom the lands got their name, but this opinion is far from certain.

A Macchus was witness to a charter of foundation of the monastery of Selkirk in 1113, afterwards transferred to Kelso, (Reg. Cart. De Kelso, p. 4.)

Maccus filius Unwein is a witness to the Inquisition by Earl David, afterwards David I., into the possessions of the Church of Glasgow, about 1117.

Maccus filius Undwain is also witness to charter by David I. in the life of Prince Henry; which charter mentions a Perambulation of the lands which took place “Anno scilicet secundo, quo Stephanus Rex Anglie captus est.” Stephen was taken prisoner in 1441, so that the charter must have been between 1143 and 1152, when Prince Henry died, and therefore the Maccus here mentioned is evidently not the ancestor of the Maxwells (Liber de Melros, Tom. i. p. 4.)

Old writers say that the family came from England. The history of the Maxwell family, printed in the Herries Peerage Case, (page 294) gives the same account. The manuscript was got in a monastery in Flanders, probably Douay, and sent to Terregles in 1769. It seems to have been written chiefly before 1660, and although inaccurate in many particulars, shows that the writer must have had means of information which probably do not now exist.

Other copies of this manuscript are extant, but all, as well as the printed one, seem to have been carelessly copied from an older and not very legible manuscript, and added to in the transcription. A more correct copy is in the possession of the Kirkconnel family, but only brought down to 1580, about which time it seems to have been originally compiled. – The chronicles and chartularies of the monasteries in Dumfries-shire and Galloway may have at that time been extant, and furnished materials for family history which do not now exist. Captain Grose must have seen a copy of the genealogical history as authority for the facts he relates. He mentions that there was a tradition that the first of the Maxwell name in Scotland was a Norwegian in the suits of Edgar Atheling and his sisters, on their arrival in the Firth of Forth two years after the Norman conquest.

Ewin Maccuswel of Carlaverock, was at the siege of Alnwick with Malcolm Canmore in 1093. (Hist. Family of Maxwell, printed as mentioned above.) This seems the same name as Eugene or Hugh.

Herbert de Maccuswell made a grant of the church of Maccuswell to the monastery of Kelso, probably in the time of David I., as it is among the earlier grants to that monastery. (Reg. Cart. De Kelso, pp. 7 and 14.) He is said to have died in 1143. (Family Tree at Terregles.)

Edmund de Macheswel, probably a brother of Herbert, was witness to a charter before 1152. Other witnesses to the same charter are Hugo de Morvile, William de Sumervile, and William de Morvile, whose surnames have all the Norman termination vile – differing in a marked manner in this from Edmund de Macheswel.

Eugene de Maxwell was taken prisoner with King William in 1174. He assisted Roland, lord of Galloway, and married his daughter, (Hist. Family of Maxwell.)

Herbert de Maccuswell makes a grant to a chapel in the church of St. Michael of Maccuswel, in honour of St. Thomas the Martyr, circa 1180. He was sheriff of Tevidale, and witness to various charters from 1180 to 1198. (See Lib. de Kelso, and Chartulary of Paisley.)

Sir John de Maccuswel was sheriff of Roxburgh and Tevidale in 1207, and in 1215 was ambassador to King John. (Rymer’s Faedera, v. i. part i. p. 135.) In 1220, he was one of the guarantees of the marriage of King Alexander II. with the princess Joan, sister of Henry III. of England, and he was one of the witnesses to the grant of dowry to her on June 18, 1221. He was chamberlain of Scotland from 1231 to 1233, and died in 1241.

His son Eumerus or Aymer de Maxwell, under the designation of Homer Maxwell, is witness in the reign of Alexander II., in a donation of the kirks of Dundonald and Sunquhar to Paisley, by Walter the Great Steward. By his marriage with Mary, daughter and heiress of Roland de Mearns, he obtained the lands and baronies of Mearns and Nether Pollock, in Renfrewshire, and Dryps and Calderwood in Lanarkshire. He was one of the councilors or in the household of the young king, and in 1255, he and Mary his wife, with the Comyns, John de Baliol, Robert de Ros, and others, were removed by Henry, king of England, to make way for Neill, earl of Carrick, Robert de Burs, William de Duneglas, and others of the English party. He was sheriff of Dumfries-shire, and great-chamberlain of Scotland. In 1258, with other barons he engaged that the Scots should not make peace with the English without the consent of the Welsh. In 1265, he was justiciary of Galloway. He had three sons: Sir Herbert, his successor; Sir John, to whom he gave the lands of Nether Pollock in Renfrewshire, and who was the founder of the family of that designation, baronets of 1682; and Alexander, of whom nothing is known.

Sir Herbert, the eldest son, sat in the parliament at Scone, 5th February, 1283-4, when the nobles agreed to acknowledge the Maiden of Norway as queen of Scotland, on the death of her grandfather, Alexander III. He is witness to an agreement between the Convent of Passelet and John de Aldhus, in 1284. In 1289, he was one of the barons who subscribed the letter to Edward I., from Brigham, as to the marriage of the Maiden of Norway with his son Edward. On June 6, 1292, he was one of those named on the part of John Baliol to discuss before Edward the right to the throne of Scotland, and in the same year he swore fealty to Edward. He died before 1300. Of three sons which he had, the eldest predeceased him.

Sir Herbert, the second son, succeeded him, and soon after his castle of Carlaverock sustained a siege from the English, a singularly curious and minute description of which has been preserved in a poem, in Norman-French, supposed to have been written by Walter of Exeter, a celebrated Franciscan friar, who is also said to have been the author of the romantic history of Guy, earl of Warwick. This description of the siege of Carlaverock castle suggested to Sir Walter Scott the idea of the siege of the castle of Front de Boeuf in “Ivanhoe.” About the 1st of July, 1300, the English army left Carlisle commanded by Edward I. in person, attended by the prince of Wales, afterwards Edward II., and the whole chivalry of England. At this time Edward was in possession of almost every stronghold in Scotland between Berwick and the Moray firth. The strong castle of Carlaverock alone held out. The assault of the English were made by every description of engine then in use, while the besieged showered upon their assailants such “huge stores, quarrels, and arrows, and with wounds and bruises they were so hurt and exhausted, that it was with very great difficulty they were able to retire.” Indeed, the courage of the garrison, which amounted only to sixty men, was most conspicuous. We are told that as one of them became fatigued another supplied his place, and they defended the fortress gallantly the whole of one day and night, but the numerous stones thrown by the besiegers, and the erection of three huge battering engines of great power, caused them to surrender. To obtain a cessation of hostilities, they hung out a pennon, but the soldier who exhibited it, was shot through the hand to his face by an arrow. The rest demanded quarter, surrendered the castle, and submitted to the mercy of the king of England.

Sir Herbert’s son, Sir Eustace Maxwell, succeeded his father before 1312. Entertaining the hereditary feelings of his family in favour of the Baliol and Comyns, in opposition to Robert the Bruce, he regained possession of the castle of Carlaverock, and on April 30, 1312, he received from Edward II., an allowance of £20 for its more secure keeping. He afterwards joined the party of Robert the Bruce. His castle of Carlaverock was again in consequence besieged by the English, and defended for several weeks, when the assailants were compelled to retire. Fearing that it might again fall into the hands of the English, sir Eustace demolished a part of the fortifications, for which he was rewarded by King Robert Bruce. Sir Eustace was one of the barons who signed the letter to the Pope, asserting the independence of Scotland, in 1320, and in the same year was tried for being accessory to a conspiracy against the king, but was acquitted. In 1332, Edward Baliol landed in Scotland, and was crowned at Scone. He was afterwards besieged in Perth, when the men of Galloway, under Sir Eustace de Maxwell, invaded the lands of the besiegers, and caused them to raise the siege. On Dec. 13, 1333, Sir Eustace with others was chosen by Edward III., to ascertain the value of the castle, county, and city of Berwick upon Tweed, (Rotuli Scotiae, vol. i. p. 260). January 26, 1335-6, he was appointed one of the conservators of the truce with the Scots, on the part of Edward, and on August 23, following, a letter was sent to him as sheriff of Dumfries, as well as to the other sheriffs of Scotland, rebuking them for their tardiness in giving in their accounts. In 1337, he made a temporary defection from Baliol, and caused the men of Galloway on his own side of the Cree, to rise against the English, although he had only immediately before received from Edward III., money and provisions for the more secure keeping of Carlaverock castle. The castles of Dumbarton and Carlaverock are said to have been the only strong castles then in possession of the Scots. The latter had therefore been repaired after its demolition. On August 20, 1339, Sir Eustace de Maxwell, Duncan Makduel, and Michael Mageth, of Scotland, received from Edward III. letters of pardon, and admitting them to the king’s peace, for having joined with his enemies. Sir Eustace was a witness to a charter of confirmation by Edward III., in 1340. He died at Carlaverock, March 3, 1342-3.

Sir John de Maxwell, knight, “son of the deceased Sir John Maxwell of Pencateland, and heir of Sir Eustace de Maxwell, his brother,” succeeded, as appears by charter granted by him to the Abbey of Dryburgh, confirmed by William, Prior of St. Andrews in 1343, being “the patronage of the church of Pencateland, which John de Maxwell of Pencateland, and Sir John Maxwell, knight, dominus de Maxwell, granted to the abbot and convent of Dryburgh.” Sir John Maxwell was taken prisoner, with David II., at the battle of Durham, in 1346, and died shortly after.

Sir John Maxwell, Lord (dominus) of Maxwell, his son, probably did not for a time regain possession of Carlaverock. Roger de Kirkpatrick had in the end of 1356 taken the castle of Carlaverock and leveled it with the ground, and when residing in the neighbourhood, was, in June following, assassinated by Sir James Lindsay. Sir John Maxwell sat in the meeting of the Estates at Edinburgh, 26th September 1357, when the terms proposed by Edward III. relative to the release of David II. were agreed to, and he was engaged in the negotiations relating thereto. A charter was granted by Robert II. to Robert de Maxwell, son and heir of John Maxwell of Carlaverock, knight, on the resignation by his father of the lands he held of the king, under reservation of his liferent, and of the terce, to Christian his spouse, in case she survived him, dated Sept. 19, 1371. He is supposed to have died in 1373.

His son, Sir Robert Maxwell of Carlaverock, succeeded. In the charter of resignation mentioned above, he is called by King Robert II., dilectus consanguineus noster, which would infer that his mother Christian was related to the king. He is supposed to have erected the castle of Carlaverock on its present site, the former one having been in a lower situation more to the east. He made a grant to the monastery of Dryburgh, for the welfare of his soul and of the soul of Sir Herbert de Maxwell, his son and heir, before 1400, (Liber de Dryburgh, p. 273.) He seems to have been alive in 1407, but was dead before Nov. 23, 1413. The Sir Robert Maxwell who was then sent as ambassador to the English court must have been Sir Robert Maxwell of Calderwood.

Sir Herbert Maxwell of Carlaverock, his son, succeeded. He married in 1385 or 1386, Katherine, daughter of Sir John Stuart of Dalswinton, under a dispensation from the pope. From his kinsman, Archibald, earl of Douglas, he had received a charter of the stewardship of Annandale, dated 8th February 1409-10. He was probably dead before Oct. 20, 1420, but certainly so before March 16, 1421. Besides Herbert, his successor, he left another son, Aymer, who married the heiress of Kirkconnel of that ilk (see MAXWELL of KIRKCONNELL).

The elder son, Sir Herbert Maxwell of Carlaverock, succeeded. In his father’s lifetime he had a safe conduct, Nov. 3, 1413, with others, to go to England as hostages. On March 16, 1421, he was retoured heir to his father in the lands of Mckill Dripps. He was knighted at the coronation of James I., May 21, 1424, and some years afterwards was created a lord of parliament, a dignity established by King James under the Act, March 1, 1427. His ancestors, from an early period, ranked among the magnates or procures regni; and in several charters in the vernacular yet extant are styled lords of Carlaverock, in the same way as the lords of Galloway and others. In 1425 he was arrested with Murdoch, duke of Albany, but soon liberated. Albany was at first sent to Carlaverock castle, but soon taken back to Stirling, where he was executed. The tower at Carlaverock, in which he was confined, was from him called Murdoch’s tower. In the parliament held at Perth, March 10, 1429, Maxwell is entered as one of the lords of parliament who adjudicated on the plea between Margaret, lady of Craigy, and Philip de Mowbray. (Acts of Scots Parl., vol. ii., p. 28). In 1430 and 1438 he was warden of the west marches, and on 20th March of the latter year he was one of the conservators of the truce with England. He was one of the lords of parliament present in parliament, June 28, 1445. He is again named a conservator of the truce, April 29, 1450, April 16, 1451, and May 30, 1453. (Rotuli Scotiae.) On Aug. 8, 1440, he had a charter under the great seal authorizing him to build a tower on the crag of the Mearns, and on May 15, 1444, he had a letter from the king empowering him to build the castle of the Mearns. He died before Feb. 14, 1453. He was twice married; first, to a daughter of Sir Herbert Herries of Terregles, by whom he had two sons, Robert his successor, and Sir Edward Maxwell, of whom descended the Maxwells of Tinwald and Monreith; and secondly, to Katherine, daughter of Sir William Seton of Seton, widow of Sir Allan Stewart of Dernely, and mother of the first earl of Lennox. By this lady, he had, with other issue, George, ancestor of the Maxwells of Cornsalloch, and Adam, of the Maxwells of Southbar.

The eldest son, Robert, 2d Lord Maxwell, was retoured heir to his father February 14, 1453-4. On the forfeiture of the Douglases in 1455, the extensive lordship of Eskdale was acquired by him, and remained with the Maxwell family throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. He was a guarantee to a treaty with the English in 1457, and again in 1459. He had, before January 20, 1424, married Janet, daughter of Sir John Forstar (Forrester) of Corstophine. On March 6, 1457, he was appointed one of the visitors of hospitals in Galloway. On Feb. 10, 1477, he executed a resignation of the baronies of Maxwell, Carlaverock, and Mearns, in favour of John Maxwell, his eldest son, on which the latter had charter from the king on the 14th of the same month. He died before May 8, 1485. He had three sons, John, his successor, Thomas, who married the heiress of Maxwell of Kirkconnel, and David. An illegitimate son, also named John, was killed in a quarrel with the Murrays.

The eldest son, John, 3d Lord Maxwell, as he was called in his latter years, although he predeceased his father in 1454, married Katherine Crichton, daughter of George Earl of Caithness. He was appointed steward of Annandale. That he was called Lord Maxwell in his father’s lifetime, after the resignation of the baronies of Maxwell, Carlaverock, and Mearns, to him as already mentioned, appears from the Acta Auditorum. On March 27, 1482, “John Lord Maxwell” is mentioned. On December 12, 1482, John Maxwell, son and apparent heir of “Robert Lord Maxwell;” and in a mutual grant of certain lands to endow a chapel in Carlaverock, “Robert Lord Maxwell,” and “John Lord Maxwell,” his son, are mentioned by these titles, and as then alive, June 5, 1483. John Lord Maxwell, or the Master of Maxwell was treacherously slain by one of his own countrymen at the close of the battle in Annandale with a party of English and some rebel Scots, July 22, 1484. Besides John, his successor, he left numerous sons, from whom descended the Maxwells of Cowhill and Killylung, of Cavens, of Portrack, of Hills, and Drumcoltran, &c.

John, 4th Lord Maxwell, his eldest son, was one of the commissioners nominated to settle border differences by the treaty of Nottingham, Sept. 23, 1484. He fell at Flodden, 9th September 1513. By his wife, Agnes, daughter of Sir Alexander Stewart of Garlies, ancestor of the earls of Galloway, he had, with three daughters, three sons, viz., Robert, fourth Lord Maxwell; Herbert, ancestor of the Maxwells of Clowden; and Edward, taken prisoner with his brother at the rout of Solway in 1543, but released the following year, on payment of ransom of £100 sterling.

Robert, fifth Lord Maxwell, the eldest son, was a conspicuous character in Scottish history in the first half of the 16th century. On the 10th June, preceding the battle of Flodden Field, he had been knighted by James IV., and, at the same time, on the resignation of his father, he was appointed steward of Annandale. In 1516 he acquired part of the lands forfeited by Lord Home, and in the following year he was appointed warden of the western marches. In 1524 he was lord provost of Edinburgh, and in that capacity chosen one of the lords of the articles for the commissioners of burghs. On 21st June 1526, on James V. being declared of age to assume the government of the realm, Lord Maxwell was sworn a member of the secret council, formed to assist the earl of Angus with their advice and support as guardian of the king’s person. Soon after, he was with the young monarch, on his return from his expedition against the Armstrongs, when, at Melrose bridge, Angus’ party was attacked by Walter Scott of Buccleuch, with the design of rescuing his majesty from the hands of the Douglases. In 1526 he was infeft as steward of Kirkcudbright and keeper of Threave castle, offices afterwards made hereditary. On the escape of James from Falkland castle to Stirling in 1528, Lord Maxwell was one of the first of the lords who attended the council summoned by the king. In the distribution of officers which took place when the king soon after proceeded to Edinburgh, a free monarch, to his lordship was intrusted the command of the capital with the provostship of the city. Angus’ brother, Sir George Douglas, the late master of the king’s household, and his uncle, Archibald Douglas of Kilspindy, the late treasurer, having made an attempt to raise the inhabitants, were attacked by Lord Maxwell, and driven from the capital. He was rewarded with a portion of the lands of the forfeited Angus. (Douglas’ Peerage, vol. ii. p. 317.)

The same year, his lordship and other principal border-chiefs were arrested and placed in Edinburgh castle, preparatory to the king’s celebrated journey into Eusdale and Teviotdale for the punishment of the border thieves, whose disorders they had overlooked, if not encouraged, during the time that Angus had usurped the government. In a few months, however, they were released, after delivering pledges for their allegiance. On 17th November 1533, his lordship was appointed an extraordinary lord of session. In 1536 he made a hostile incursion into England, and burnt Penrith. In August of the same year he was appointed one of the members of the regency, to whom the government of the kingdom was intrusted during the absence of James V., on his matrimonial expedition to France; and in the following December he was one of the ambassadors sent to that country to negotiate the marriage of James with Mary of Guise, widow of the duke of Longueville, whom he espoused as proxy for the king.

In 1542, after the discontented nobles had refused to invade England, and James was obliged to disband his army encamped on Fala muir, Lord Maxwell offered his services for a new expedition. A force of 10,000 men having been speedily collected, it advanced, under his command, into England, by the western marches, and reached the Solway Moss, whilst the king awaited at Carlaverock castle the result of the invasion. The appointment of the king’s favourite, Oliver Sinclair, to the chief command, gave so much offence to the nobles in the Scots army, that they refused to serve under him, and on the approach of Sir Thomas Dacre and Sir John Musgrave, two English leaders, with 300 horse, they yielded themselves prisoners. Lord Maxwell on foot was endeavouring to restore some degree of order, and being urged to mount his horse and fly, he replied, “Nay, I will rather abide here the chance that it shall please God to send me than to go home and there be hanged.”

On the death of James V., which happened soon after, his lordship, with the other captive lords, was allowed to return to Scotland, his ransom being 1,000 marks. They were previously compelled, however, to enter into a bond or obligation to promote the designs of the English monarch on their native country. He zealously promoted the fruitless projects of Henry VIII., relative to a marriage betwixt the infant Queen Mary and his son, Prince Edward.

While in England he is supposed to have become a convert to the doctrines of the Reformation, and in the first parliament of the young queen, which met March 13, 1543, he presented an act that all should have liberty to read the Bible in the Scottish or English tongue, but under the proviso, not very consistent with his reformed views, that “na man dispute or hald opinions under the pains conteinit in the actis of parliament.” This act was passed into a law, and publicly ratified by the regent Arran, notwithstanding the protest of the lord-chancellor and the prelates. Towards the end of the same year he was apprehended at Edinburgh, with Lord Somerville, on a charge of entering into a treasonable agreement with England, but on the arrival of an English fleet in Leith Roads on 3d May following, he was set at liberty. On 16th September, 1545, with the lairds of Lochinvar and Johnston, aided by some French troops, he invaded England by the western borders, but was taken prisoner. As his conduct towards King Henry had been auspicious and vacillating, he was threatened to be sent to the Tower by that imperious monarch, when he offered to serve under the earl of Hertford, on his invasion of Scotland, with a red cross on his armour, to show that he was true to the English interests. By delivering up Carlaverock to the English, he was allowed to return to Scotland, but early in November of the same year, the regent and Cardinal Bethune attacked and stormed that fortress, whilst Lochmaben and Threave, held by his sons, experienced a similar fate. Maxwell himself, being taken with his English confederates, was imprisoned in Dumfries. He died 9th July 1546. He was twice married, but had only issue by his first wife, Janet, daughter of Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig, namely, a daughter, Margaret, countess of Angus, and afterwards Lady Baillie of Lamington, and two sons, Robert, 6th Lord Maxwell, and Sir John Maxwell of Terregles, who married Agnes, daughter of the third Lord Herries, and as the 4th Lord Herries, but first of the Maxwell family, distinguished himself by his faithful adherence to Queen Mary.

Robert, sixth Lord Maxwell, was one of the commissioners to treat with the English, 8th May, 1551, and died 14th September, 1552. By his wife, Lady Beatrix Douglas, the 2d of 3 daughters of James, 3d earl of Morton, he had Robert, who died young, and a posthumous son, John, 7th Lord Maxwell.

John, seventh lord, was not born till the spring following his father’s decease. His uncle, the Master of Maxwell, was his tutor and governor; afterwards William Douglas of Whittingham, John Mure of Rowallan, and Robert Maxwell of Corhill, were appointed his curators, until he attained his majority in 1574. He was a zealous supporter of Queen Mary, and in 1570, when the earl of Sussex was sent by Queen Elizabeth into Scotland, with an army of 15,000 men, to support King James VI., after the assassination of the regent Moray, the English commander “took and cast down the castles of Carlaverock, Hoddam, Dumfries, Tinwald, Cowhill, and sundry other gentlemen’s houses, dependers on the house of Maxwell, and having burnt the town of Dumfries, returned with great spoil to England.” Lord Maxwell and Lord Herries attended the parliament held in Queen Mary’s name at Edinburgh, 12th June 1571. In right of his mother he was heir of one-third of the earldom of Morton; he had acquired right to another third from Margaret, her elder sister, with consent of her husband, the duke of Chatelherault, and he was heir apparent of the youngest sister, who died childless. He, therefore, considered that the earldom of Morton was his by right, and that all the entails executed by James, 3d earl, were illegal. The earl of Morton, appointed regent of the kingdom Nov. 24, 1572, seemed himself to doubt their legality, for he “pressed by all means that the Lord Maxwell should renounce his title thereto, quilk he refusing he commanded him to prison in the castle of Edinburgh, where lykwayes refusing to renounce, he was sent to Blackness, and from thence to St. Andrews, where he and the Lord Ogilvie abode till the March thereafter.” (Hist. Family of Maxwell.) In 1579, Morton caused Lords John and Claud Hamilton to fly the country, and delivered the Duchess of Chatelherault, their mother and Lord Maxwell’s aunt, and the earl of Arran, then insane, into the charge of the notorious Captain Lammie, and in order to injure, as much as in his power, every descendant of the 3d earl of Morton, to whom he was indebted for his honours and estates, he deprived Lord Maxwell of the wardenship, and conferred the office on the laird of Johnston, the hereditary enemy of the house of Maxwell. On the execution and attainder of the regent Morton, Lord Maxwell obtained, as representative of his mother, a charter of the earldom of Morton, erected of new in his favour, June 5, 1581, and ratified with consent of the Estates, Nov. 19 thereafter. He seems to have been, about the same time, reponed as warden of the west marches, which office he held till the conspiracy of the earl of Gowrie in 1582, when the duke of Lennox was driven from the government. He adhered to the duke, and accompanied him to Glasgow on his way to Dumbarton castle. On Nov. 30 of that year, when Lennox mediated the seizure of the capital, Lord Maxwell and others of his supporters arrived in that city, with their followers, to assist him, but departed without carrying their design into effect.

The attainder of the earldom of Morton was rescinded by the king’s letters under the great seal, in January 1585, in favour of Archibald earl of Angus, the heir of entail, (ratified by act of parliament of 29th July 1587,) who thereby succeeded to the old title of earl of Morton, but not affecting Lord Maxwell’s title of earl of Morton created in 1581 (see MORTON, earl of). Having incurred Arran’s displeasure for refusing to exchange his lands of Pollok and Maxwellhaugh, which lay contiguous to Arran’s estate, for others of equal value, Lord Maxwell proceeded to collect a force in his own defence, when he was denounced rebel, and put to the horn, through the malice of the earl of Arran, on which the lieges were commanded by proclamation to meet the king on Crawfordmuir, on Oct. 24, to proceed against him. He joined the banished nobles in their conspiracy for the removal of Arran, whom they considered the cause of all the evils that afflicted the country, and was with them when, on Nov. 1, they took the castle of Stirling. On this occasion his followers availed themselves of the opportunity to do a little bit of business on their own account, while in effect assisting in the overthrow of the court favourite, for, we are told, they carried off by force all the horses they could find, “not respecting friend or foe.” A general act of indemnity was passed in favour of the lords who had driven Arran from court, and on December 10, 1585, a special Act of Parliament granted Lord Maxwell, his friends and servants, entire indemnity for all their unlawful doings within the realm, from April 1569 to the date thereof. Of the men named in the act, there were about 600 from Lord Maxwell’s own estates in Nithsdale and Galloway, 600 from Eskdale, Ewesdale, and Wauchopedale, mostly Beatties, Littles, and Armstrongs, 340 from Lower Annandale, chiefly Carruthers, Bells, and Irvings, and about 450 better organized soldiers, in three companies of infantry, and two troops of cavalry, one troop being from Galloway and Nithsdale, commanded by John Maxwell of Newlaw and Alexander Maxwell of Logan; and the other from Annandale, commanded by George Carruthers of Holmends, and Charles Carruthers, his son.

Having, contrary to law, caused mass to be celebrated openly in the college of Lincluden, near Dumfries, on 24th, 25th, and 26th Dec. of the same year, his lordship, and the rest of the hearers, were charged to appear before the secret council. On his appearance he offered himself to trial, but was committed to the castle of Edinburgh. It does not appear how long he remained a prisoner, Tytler says (Hist. of Scotland, vol. ix., p. 4), that when the king received the news of his mother’s execution, he sent for Lord Maxwell, and others of the more warlike of the border leaders, to consult as to what should be done. He was not, however, employed in the matter, for on April 12, 1587, he gave bond, with John, Lord Hamilton, William, Lord Herries, and Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, as cautioners, that he would leave the realm and go beyond sea in a month, and in the meantime should not trouble the country, nor, when abroad, do anything to injure the religion then professed, or the peace of the realm, and should not return without his Majesty’s special license. Lord Herries, also, on May 29 following, gave bond that Sir Robert Maxwell of Dinwiddie, John Maxwell of Conheath, and Edward Maxwell of the Hills – probably imprisoned at the same time as Lord Maxwell – should not do or attempt anything to the prejudice of the religion then professed. Soon after, Lord Maxwell went to Spain, and when there he did what he could to promote the success of the invasion of England by the Armada, and, with that view, to produce a diversion in Scotland, where a powerful body of the nobility was ready to assist. In the month of April 1588, he returned to Scotland without the king’s license. He at once began to assemble his followers, that he might be ready to assist the Spaniards on the arrival of their much-vaunted Armada. He fortified the castle of Lochmaben, the command of which he gave to Mr. David Maxwell, brother of the laird of Cowhill, while he himself took refuge on board a ship. With a large force James marched to Dumfries, and summoned Lord Maxwell’s various castles to surrender. They all obeyed, except Lochmaben, but after two days’ firing it also was given up, when the governor and five of his officers were hanged before the castle gate. In the meantime, Sir William Stewart, brother of Captain Stewart, the quondam earl of Arran, was sent after Lord Maxwell. Finding himself pursued, his lordship, quitting the ship, took to the boat, and had no sooner landed than he was apprehended. He was at first conveyed to Dumfries, but afterwards removed to the castle of Edinburgh, and deprived of his office of warden of the western marches, which was conferred on the laird of Johnston.

With other imprisoned nobles, Lord Maxwell was released from his confinement on 12th September, 1589, to do honour, by their attendance, to the queen of James VI. On her arrival in Scotland from Denmark. He had become, from policy or otherwise, a convert to Protestantism, and on 26th January, 1598, subscribed the Confession of Faith before the presbytery of Edinburgh, under the name of Morton. On the 2d February following he and the new earl of Morton, striving for precedency in the church at Edinburgh, were parted by the provost before they had time to draw their swords, and conveyed under a guard to their lodging, as was also Lord Hamilton, for having assisted Maxwell.

He had been restored to the wardenship of the western marches, but in consequence of its having been held for a time by the laird of Johnston, the old feud was renewed between the two families. On the 7th December, 1598, at the head of about 2,000 men, Lord Maxwell, having a commission of lieutenantcy, went to demolish some houses belonging to the Johnstons, when he was resisted by the chief of that name, with his allies, the Scotts, Elliots, and other border clans, to the number of 500 men, and “being a tall man and heavy in armour,” was slain. This affair was called the battle of Dryfe sands. The Maxwells, though much superior in numbers, were routed and pursued; and lost, on the field and in the retreat, about 700 men, besides their commander. Many of those who were killed or wounded in the retreat were cut down in the streets of Locherby, and hence the phrase, currently used in Annandale to denote a severe wound, “A Locherby Lick.” By his wife, Lady Elizabeth Douglas, second daughter of the 7th earl of Angus, Lord Maxwell had, with three daughters, three sons, John and Robert, 8th and 9th Lord Maxwell, and James Maxwell of Kirkconnel and Springkell, who left no issue.

John, 8th Lord Maxwell, the eldest son, was put to the horn for various acts of disobedience to the king’s authority, and by the laws then in force as to religion, before the year 1600. The old feud between the Maxwells and the Johnstons was kept up by the appointment of Sir James Johnston to the wardenship, June 17, 1600. Lord Maxwell was in March 1602 imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh on account of his favouring popery. He afterwards broke out of ward, and was proclaimed a traitor. A sort of reconciliation had taken place between the Maxwells and the Johnstons, in testimony whereof Lord Maxwell executed “Letters of Slayns,” June 11, 1605.

In 1607, Lord Maxwell, asserting still his rights as earl of Morton, got into disputes with the other earl of Morton about holding courts in Eskdalemuir, in consequence whereof he was committed to the castle of Edinburgh. He escaped from the castle Dec. 4 of that year, along with Robert Maxwell of Dinwiddie. He was then put to the horn, and diligent search made for him. On Feb. 2, 1608, King James wrote to the privy council, complaining that, in contempt of his authority, Lord Maxwell traveled openly through the country with 20 horse, and even appeared at Dumfries, and directed that he be sought for, and either taken or put out of the bounds. In answer, the privy council informed the king that they had used all diligence in searching for Lord Maxwell, and punishing his resetters, and asked to have designed a certain cave to which he used to resort. The cave inquired about was probably what is now called “Lord Maxwell’s cave,” in Clawbelly Hill, parish of Kirkgunzion. Tired of this uncomfortable life, Lord Maxwell desired to be restored to the king’s favour, and for that purpose, in April 1608, sent a message by his cousin, Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardton, to Sir James Johnston of Johnston, the brother-in-law of the latter, who had expressed a wish for a reconciliation, that a friendly meeting might take place between them. Accordingly, they met on horseback on the 6th of that month, Lord Maxwell attended by Charles Maxwell of Kirkhouse, and Sir James Johnston by William Johnston of Locherby, Sir Robert Maxwell being also present. With Sir Robert Maxwell, the two chiefs rode apart to confer together, but, a quarrel taking place between the attendants, Johnston’s friend was shot at by a pistol fired by the other. The laird of Johnston, crying out “treason,” rode forward to see what was the matter. Lord Maxwell, at that moment, shot him in the back, and he fell off his horse dead. His lordship immediately fled to the continent. His title and estates were forfeited, and all his offices vested in the crown. In March 1612 he ventured to return to Scotland, and being closely pursued, retired to Caithness, intending to take shipping there for Sweden, but was betrayed by his kinsman, George, 5th earl of Caithness, conveyed by sea to Leith, and imprisoned in the jail of Edinburgh. For the “treasonable murder,” as slaughter under trust was then termed, of Sir James Johnston, (who had married Sarah Maxwell, sister of John, 7th Lord Herries, and was ancestor of the marquises of Annandale,) he was, on 21st May following, beheaded at the cross of Edinburgh. He married Lady Margaret Hamilton, only daughter of John, first marquis of Hamilton, without issue.

His brother, Robert, 9th Lord Maxwell, was restored to the title and estates of the family, 13th Oct., 1618, and on 29th August, 1620, the title of earl of Morton, at one time held by this family, was changed to earl of Nithsdale, with the precedency of the former title. (See NITHSDALE, earl of.)


There are five baronetcies held by families of the name of Maxwell – namely, of Pollok, Renfrewshire; of Calderwood, Lanarkshire; of Cardoness, Kirkcudbrightshire; of Monreith, Wigtownshire; and of Springkell, Dumfries-shire.


The baronetcy of Orchardton, extinct or dormant, was about to be claimed by the heir in 1805, but the estates having been sold the idea was given up.


The Pollock branch was allied by marriage to royalty. This family, descended from Sir John Maxwell, 2d son of Eumerus or Aymer de Maxwell, were usually styled “Domini de Pollok,” or “Nether Pollok.” Besides the lands of that name in Renfrewshire, which he received from his father, Sir John got a grant of the lands of Lyoncroce, in the same county, from Robert the Bruce. Towards the close of the reign of that monarch he was governor of the castle of Dumbarton. He was succeeded by Sir Robert Maxwell of Pollok.

The next possessor of Pollok was Sir John Maxwell, who married, 1st, Isabel de Lindsay, daughter of Sir James Lindsay of Crawford, by Lady Egidia Stewart, sister-in-law of Robert II., and daughter of Walter the high steward, and by her he had 2 sons, John, his successor, and Robert, ancestor of the Maxwells of Calderwood; 2dly, Elizabeth de St. Michel, heiress of Whitchesten, Roxburghshire, supposed without issue.

His elder son, Sir John Maxwell, knight, early distinguished himself in arms, especially at the battle of Otterburn in 1388. According to Froissart, he there made prisoner Sir Ralph Percy, brother of Hotspur, an exploit that drew from John Dunbar, earl of Moray, under whom he served and graduated in chivalry, the encomiastic exclamation of “Well, Maxwell, hast thou earned thy spurs to-day!” With is relatives the Lindsays, Montgomeries, and others, all emulous of military glory, he readily joined the renowned and gallant James, earl of Douglas, in that enterprise. He married a daughter of the Sieur de Montgomery, who also fought at Otterbourne. Thomas Maxwell of Pollok, succeed. He was alive in 1440. His son, John Maxwell of Pollok, was living in 1452.

His male heir, before and after 1500, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, married Lady Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of John, earl of Lennox, and had by her four sons. 1. Sir John, his heir. 2. Robert, bishop of Orkney, a distinguished prelate. 3. George, of Cowglen, whose son, Sir John Maxwell, acquired the estates by marriage. 4. Thomas, whose descendants carried on the line of the family.

The eldest son, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, had a son, John Maxwell, who predeceased him in 1536. The latter married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Patrick Houston of Houston, and had a daughter, Elizabeth, sole heiress of Pollok.

This Elizabeth succeeded her grandfather, and married Sir John Maxwell, son of the above-mentioned George Maxwell of Cowglen, the collateral heir male. He was knighted by Queen Mary, and fought at Langside.

Their son, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, succeeded, He fell at the battle of Lockerby, in 1593. He married, 1st Margaret, daughter of William Cunningham of Caprington, by whom he had a son, John, and a daughter, Agnes, wife of John Boyle of Kelburn, ancestor of the earls of Glasgow; 2dly, Marjory, daughter of Sir William Edmonston of Duntreath, and widow of Mungo Graham of Urchill, a cadet of the house of Montrose.

The son, Sir John Maxwell pf Pollok, who figured after 1598 and in the reign of Charles I., married, 1st, Isabel Campbell, daughter of Hugh, Lord Loudoun, by whom he had a daughter; and, 2dly, Grizel, daughter of John Blair of Blair, without issue. To fix and secure the inheritance in the male line, Sir John settled his whole estates, heritable and moveable, upon his cousin, George, afterwards Sir George Maxwell of Auldhouse, descended from Thomas, youngest son of Sir John Maxwell, his great-great-grandfather. Sir John died in 1647.

George Maxwell of Auldhouse, afterwards Sir George, succeeded, according to the settlement made in his favour, and his descendants continued to enjoy the estates, notwithstanding of two attempts made by the Calderwood branch to disturb the succession. He was knighted by Charles II., and is described as having been a gentleman of singular accomplishments, and justly esteemed for his piety, learning, and other good qualifications. He married in 1646, Annabella, daughter of Sir Archibald Stewart of Blackhall and Ardgowan, descended from Robert III., and had a son and 3 daughters. He died in 1677.

Sir George Maxwell’s name is associated with one of the most extraordinary causes célèbreres in witchcraft which occurred in Renfrewshire. Having been taken suddenly ill, while in Glasgow, on the night of Oct. 14, 1677, he was, on his return home, confined to bed with severe bodily pains. A vagrant girl, named Janet Douglas, who pretended to be dumb, and was considered a clever witch-finder, and who owed some of his tenants a grudge, accused several of them of bewitching Sir George, and, to confirm her assertions, she contrived, in one or two instances, to secrete small wax figures of the suffering knight, stuck with pins, in the dwellings of the accused persons. A special commission was issued for the trial of the case on the spot, and after a long investigation, at which were present, besides some of the lords of justiciary, most of the leading men of Renfrewshire, the following unfortunate creatures, namely, Janet Mathie, widow of John Stewart, under miller in Shaw mill, John Stewart, her son, and three old women, the parties accused, were condemned to be strangled and burned, and Annabil Stewart, a girl 14 years old, the daughter of Mathie, ordered to be imprisoned! The case is recorded in Crawford’s ‘History of Renfrewshire.’ A ballad has also been written on the subject. The accused confessed their guilt!

The son, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles II., April 12, 1682, with extension of the title, in virtue of another patent, March 27, 1707, to his heirs male whatsoever. In July 1683, Sir John Maxwell was imprisoned for refusing to take the test, and December 2, 1684, he was fined £8,000 by the privy council, for allowing recusants to live on his lands, and refusing the bond and test. The council, however, declared that if paid before the end of the month, the fine would be reduced to £2,000. In 1689, Sir John was sworn a privy councilor to King William. The same year he represented the county of Renfrew at the convention of estates. He was afterwards commissioner for the same county in the Scots parliament. In 1696 he was appointed one of the lords of the treasury and exchequer. On the 6th February 1699 he was admitted an ordinary lord of session, and on the 14th of the same month nominated lord-justice-clerk. In the latter office he was superseded in 1702. He died July 4, 1732, in his 90th year, without issue.

His cousin, Sir John Maxwell, previously styled of Blawerthill, succeeded as 2d baronet of Pollok. He was the son of Zecharias Maxwell of Blawerthill, younger brother of Sir George Maxwell of Auldhouse and Pollok. He married, 1st, Lady Ann Carmichael, daughter of John, earl of Hyndford, and had a son, John, and 2 daughters; 2dly, Barbara, daughter of Walter Stewart of Glairhall, issue, 3 sons; 1. George, of Blawerthill, who died unmarried; 2. Walter; 3. James; and 2 daughter; 3dly, Margaret, of the family of Caldwell of Caldwell, without issue. He died in 1753.

His eldest son, Sir John Maxwell, became 3d baronet. On his death, his half brother, Sir Walter, succeeded as 4th baronet, and died in 1761.

Sir Walter’s only son, Sir John, became 5th baronet, but died nine weeks after his father.

The title and estates reverted to his father’s youngest brother, Sir James, 6th baronet. This gentleman married Frances, 2d daughter of Robert Colquhoun, Esq., of St. Christopher’s, of the family of Kenmure; issue, 2 sons; 1, John, his successor; 2. Robert, a captain in the army, died without issue; and 2 daughters, 1, Frances, wife of John Cunningham of Craigends; 2. Barbara, married Rev. Greville Ewing. Sir James died in 1785.

His elder son, Sir John, 7th baronet, was M.P. for the Paisley Burghs. He married Hanna Anne, daughter of Richard Gardiner of Aldborough, Suffolk; issue, a son, Sir John, and 2 daughters, Harriet, who died in 1842, and Elizabeth, wife of Archibald Stirling, Esq. of Keir.

The son, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, 8th baronet, succeeded July 30, 1844; F.R.S.; was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford; M.P. for the county of Renfrew from 1826 to 1831, and for Lanarkshire from 1832 to 1837; deputy lieutenant for counties of Lanark and Renfrew. He married in 1839 Lady Matilda Harriet Bruce, daughter of Thomas, earl of Elgin and Kincardine. This lady died Aug. 31, 1827.

The family of Maxwell of Pollok are in possession of several original writings of considerable interest. One of these is the letter written by Queen Mary, after her escape from Lochleven, to Sir John Maxwell, whom she had knighted, requiring him to hasten to her aid with all his people, “bodin in fear of weir.” That is, equipped for war. He obeyed the call, and as stated above, fought at the battle of Langside, on the very border of his own domains.


The Maxwells of Calderwood are descended from Sir John Maxwell of Pollock, knight. He got from his father the lands and baronies of Nether Pollok, Renfrewshire, and of Dryps and Calderwood, Lanarkshire. By his first wife, Isabel de Lindsay, Sir John had 2 sons, Sir John, his successor, and Sir Robert, ancestor of the Maxwells of Calderwood. He died in the beginning of the reign of David II.

The younger son, Sir Robert Maxwell, who inherited Pollok and Calderwood, died in 1363.

Sir Robert’s eldest son and successor, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok and Calderwood, had 2 sons, John, to whom he gave the lands of Nether Pollok, and Robert.

The latter, Sir Robert Maxwell, got the barony of Calderwood and other lands. A mutual indenture was entered into by the two brothers, dated at Dumbarton, Dec. 18, 1400, in which all their lands were enumerated, and under the authority of their father – the principal party – this deed allocated or partitioned certain lands to the sons and their respective heirs at law. Sir Robert married in 1402, Elizabeth, daughter and co-heir of Sir Robert Denniston of Denniston, by whom he obtained the barony of Newark, in Renfrewshire. From this marriage lineally descended Sir James Maxwell of Calderwood, who died in 1622. He was thrice married, and had issue by all his wives. His third wife, Lady Margaret Cunningham, daughter of James, 7th earl of Glencairn, and widow of Sir James Hamilton of Evandale, was sister of Ann, marchioness of Hamilton. By her he had 4 daughters and 2 sons; 1, John, lineal ancestor of the present baronet, and 2. Alexander.

His son, Sir James Maxwell of Calderwood, who succeeded him, was by his 2d wife, Isobel, daughter of Sir Alexander Hamilton of Innerwick. He was created a baronet of Scotland and Nova Scotia, with remainder to his heirs male whatsoever, March 28, 1627. On the death of Sir John Maxwell of Pollok without surviving issue, in 1647, Sir James attempted to set aside a disposition of the Pollok estates, made some time before his death, by Sir John Maxwell in favour of George Maxwell of Auldhouse, but without effect. His son, Sir William, also prosecuted his claim to t he Pollok estates, founding, like his father, on the deed of indenture of 1400, above mentioned, but he was equally unsuccessful. Sir James died in 1667. His half brother, Colonel John Maxwell, has an historical name as having attended his cousin, the duke of Hamilton, on his unfortunate expedition into England in 1648 for the rescue of Charles I. On his return he was obliged to do penance for his share in the “engagement,” as it was called, before the congregation in the parish church of Carluke, in which parish the family at that time resided. He served as colonel in the Scots army which opposed Cromwell on his entering Scotland in 1650, and was killed at the battle of Dunbar that year.

Sir James’ eldest son, Sir William, 2d baronet, married Jean, daughter of Sir Alexander Maxwell of Saughton Hall, and had two sons, and one daughter, who predeceased him.

His first cousin, Sir John, son of Colonel Maxwell, half brother of the first baronet, succeeded as 3d baronet. He was first designed of Abington, but afterwards of Calderwood.

His only surviving son, Sir William, 4th baronet, died in 1750. He married Christian, daughter of Alexander Stewart, Esq. of Torrence, and had, with 4 daughters, 3 sons. 1. William. 2. John, a colonel in the army, who had the command of a regiment of grenadiers, and served with great reputation in the German war, under Prince Ferdinand. 3. Alexander, a merchant in Leith, who married Mary, daughter of Hugh Clerk, Esq., of the family of Penicuik. Their son, Captain Sir Murray Maxwell, distinguished himself as a naval officer. A memoir is given of him below.

Sir William’s eldest son, Sir William, 5th baronet, died January 2, 1789.

The only surviving son of the latter, Sir William, 6th baronet, born in 1748, died without issue, August 12, 1829, and was succeeded by his cousin.

Sir William Maxwell, 7th baronet, a distinguished general in the army, died March 16, 1837. He had four sons.

The eldest son, Sir William Alexander Maxwell, 8th baronet, born in 1793, became a colonel in the army in 1851, and retired in 1853; married, without issue. Two younger brothers died unmarried. Hugh Bates, his younger brother, was born in 1797; married, issue, a son, William, born in 1828.


The Maxwells of Cardoness, Kirkcudbrighshire, descend from William Maxwell of Newlands, younger son of Gavin Maxwell, Esq., whose eldest son, Sir Robert Maxwell, knight, was grandfather of the first baronet of Calderwood.

David Maxwell of Cardoness, son of Major John Maxwell, by his wife, a daughter of Irving of Bonshaw, was created a baronet, June 9, 1804. He married in 1770, his cousin, Henrietta, daughter of David Maxwell, Esq. of Cairnsmore, Kirkcudbrightshire, and had 4 sons and 4 daughters. He died in 1825.

His 2d son, David, succeeded; his eldest son, William, having been drowned on his passage to Minorca, Feb. 17, 1801. Sir David, 2d baronet, born in 1773, vice-lieutenant of Kirkcudbrightshire, and honorary colonel of Galloway Rifles, married Georgina, eldest daughter of Samuel Martin, Esq. of Antigua, and had 3 sons and 3 daughters. Sir David died Nov. 13, 1860, and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son.

Sir William, 3d baronet, born 1809, married 1st, 1841, Mary, daughter of J. Sprot, Esq., by whom (who died 1846) he had 2 sons and 1 daughter. Sir William married, 2dly, 1851, Louisa Maria, eldest daughter of Geoffrey J. Shakerley, Esq., and by her also (who died 1856) has issue 4 daughters.


The Maxwells of Monreith, Wigtownshire, are descended from Herbert of Carlaverock, first Lord Maxwell. His 2d son, Sir Edward Maxwell, obtained a charter of the barony of Mureith, now Monreith, Jan. 15, 1481. He was lineal ancestor of William Maxwell of Monreith, created a baronet of Nova Scotia, January 8, 1681. He died in 1709. His eldest son, William, was drowned in the Nith, in 1767.

His 2d son, Sir Alexander, succeeded as 2d baronet, and Sir William, the eldest son of Sir Alexander, became 3d baronet. Sir William died Aug. 22, 1771. by his wife, Magdalene, daughter of William Blair, Esq. of Blair, Ayrshire, he had, with 3 daughters, 3 sons. 1. William; 2. Hamilton, lieutenant-colonel, 74th regiment, who commanded the grenadiers of the army under Lord Cornwallis, in the war against Tippoo sultaun. He died in India, unmarried, in 1800; 3. Dunbar, R.N., died young in 1775.

Sir William, the eldest son, succeeded as 4th baronet. He married his cousin, Katherine, daughter and heiress of David Blair, Esq. of Adamton, and had 3 sons and 6 daughters. He died in 1812.

The eldest son, Sir William, 5th baronet, served as lieutenant-colonel in the 26th foot under Sir John Moore in Spain, and lost an arm at Corunna. He died Aug. 22, 1838.

His eldest son. Sir William Maxwell, 6th baronet, born in 1805, succeeded. He was a captain in the army, but retired from the service in 1844; lieutenant-colonel of militia; married Helenora, youngest daughter of Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, bart., of Greenock and Blackhall; issue, Herbert Eustace, born Jan. 8, 1845, another son and 4 daughters.


The Maxwells of Springkell, in Annandale, baronets, are a branch of the family of Auldhouse, of which Maxwell of Pollok is the senior representative. They are second in succession from Pollok. George Maxwell, Esq. of Auldhouse, married, 1st, Janet, daughter of John Miller, Esq. of Newton, and had one son, John, whose son, George, succeeded to the Pollok estates; 2dly, Jean, daughter of William Muir, Esq. of Glanderstone, issue, a son, William; 3dly, Janet, daughter of Douglas of Waterside, issue, a son, Hugh.

William Maxwell, the 2d son, acquired in 1609, the barony of Kirkconnel and Springkell, in Annandale.

His son, Patrick Maxwell of Springkell, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1683. He died in 1726, leaving a son, and 4 daughters.

His son, Sir William, 2d baronet, died in 1760, and was succeeded by his only son, Sir William, 3d baronet, who died March 4, 1804. The latter had, with 3 daughters, 4 sons, namely, 1. William, a lieutenant 36th regiment, who died, unmarried, in 1784. 2. Michael-Stewart, colonel of Dumfries-shire light dragoons, who died, unmarried, in 1830. 3. Patrick, an officer in the army, drowned by the upsetting of a boat in a river in Nova Scotia, in 1790. 4. John. The youngest son succeeded his father.

Lieutenant-general Sir John Maxwell, 4th baronet, who succeeded March 4, 1804, married Mary, only surviving child and heiress of Patrick Heron, Esq. of Heron, in the stewartry of Galloway, M.P., and on the death of his father-in-law, assumed the surname and arms of Heron, in addition to his own. He died January 29, 1836.

His eldest son, Sir Patrick Heron Maxwell, died, unmarried, August 27, 1844.

His next brother, Sir John Heron Maxwell, became 6th baronet; born in 1808; an officer R.N.; married, issue, 4 sons.


The Maxwells of Parkhill; and other families of the name, sprung from the same common ancestor as the Calderwood family. The Rev. Robert Maxwell, 2d son of Sir John Maxwell of Calderwood, knight, in the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth was sent over to Ireland, by James VI., to secure an interest for his majesty in that kingdom. He was appointed dean of Armagh, and was ancestor of the earls of Furnham peerage of Ireland, and of the Waring-Maxwells of Finnibrogue, county Down.


The Maxwells of Durgavel are an old family in Renfrewshire. John Hall Maxwell, Esq., present proprietor of Durgavel, is also the representative of another ancient family in the same county, the Halls of Fulbar, the reputed chiefs of the name, which in the charters of the time is given in the Latin form of de Aula. The ancestor of the latter obtained a charter of the lands of Fulbar from James, high steward of Scotland, grandfather of King Robert II., confirmed by that monarch in 1370. One of the descendants of this family fell at Flodden.

The Durgavel branch of the family of Maxwell was a cadet of the house of Newark, an offshoot of the family of Calderwood. Of the Maxwells of Newark, Mr. Hall Maxwell is now also the representative.

John, eldest son, by his 2d wife, of Patrick Maxwell of Newark, obtained from his father in 1516, a charter of the lands of Dargavel, in the parish of Erskine, with those of Rashielee and Haltonridge, in the adjacent parishes of Inchinnan and Kilmalcolm. One of his descendants was slain in the desperate conflict at Lockerby in 1593, between the rival clans of Maxwell and Johnston.

John Maxwell, the proprietor of Dargavel in 1710, entailed that estate, and died without issue. He was succeeded by his brother, William Maxwell of Freeland, who also died childless.

Their sister, Margaret Maxwell, had married Robert Hall of Fulbar, and the 2d son of this marriage, John Hall, succeeded to Dargavel, as next heir of entail, when he took the name of Maxwell. By the death of his elder brother, he became proprietor of Fulbar and male representative of the family of Hall.

His grandson, John Maxwell of Dargavel, died in 1830.

His brother, William Maxwell, succeeded. He married Mary, daughter of John Campbell, Esq. of Possil, Dumbartonshire, and had by her a numerous family. He died in 1846.

His eldest son, John Hall Maxwell, Esq. of Dargavel, C.B., born in 1812, passed advocate at the Scottish bar in 1835, and in 1846 was appointed secretary to the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland. In 1856 he was made a companion of the Bath; a magistrate and deputy lieutenant of Renfrewshire. He married in 1843, Anne, daughter of Thomas Williams, Esq. of Burwood House, with issue. His son and heir, William Hall, was born in 1847.


The Maxwells of Kirkconnel descend from one of the older cadets of the Maxwell family. Representing the family of Kirkconnel of Kirkconnel, it is one of the oldest families in Galloway, and has been settled in the parish of Troqueer for centuries. The Maxwells spell the name Kirkconnell.

The first of the house of Kirkconnel of that ilk is supposed to have been a person of Saxon origin, who had come from the north of England and settled at Kirkconnel, near the mouth of the Nith, in the time of Earl David, afterwards David I., or in that of King Malcolm his father. The names, John, William, and Thomas, which the Kirkconnel family used, indicate their north of England extraction; while the surname of the family being the same as the name of their hands, gives right to infer that they held these lands from the time of Malcolm Canmore (1057-1093) when family surnames derived from territorial possessions began to be used in Scotland.

The arms of the Kirkconnels, azure, two crosiers, or, placed in saltire ardossés, with a mitre of the last placed in chief (Nisbet’s Heraldry, Part 2, ch. 10) being the same as those of the bishops of Argyle or Lismore in the 12th century, might be thought to show that the one was derived from the other, but was probably assumed from the name of the territory and its connexion with the church.

The first of the name on record is John, “dominus de Kirkconnel, fundavit Sacrum Boscum.” (Dugdale’s Monasticon (1661) Caemobia Scotica, vol. ii. p. 1057.) He founded the abbey of Holywood some time in the 12th century, in the place of a former religious house. He was probably the father of Michael de Kirkconnel, whose son, William FitzMichael de Kirkconnel, about the year 1200 made a grant of lands in Kirkconnel, in favour of the abbey of Holmcultram in Cumberland (Hutcheson’s Cumberland, vol. ii., p. 331).

Gilchrist, the son of Gilcunil, is witness to a charter of lands in Dunscore near Dercongall or Holywood, granted by Affrica, daughter of Edgar, to the monks of Melrose, in the reign of William the Lion or of Alexander II. (Liber de Melrose, vol. i. p. 182).

There is no farther account of any one of the name until the contest arose for the throne of Scotland between John Baliol, lord of Galloway, and Robert Bruce, lord of Annandale. Among those who swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296, we find Thomas de Kirkconnel of the county of Dumfries, which then included both sides of the Nith. There can be little doubt that Thomas de Kirkconnel and his immediate successors, like the rest of the men of Nithsdale and Galloway, supported the cause of Baliol. IN 1324 mention is made of “dominus de Kirkconnell in valle de Nith,” (Chalmers’ Caledonia).

Owing to the wars and confusion of the times little is known of the Kirkconnels for two or three generations, but it is probable that they generally supported and shared the fortunes of their greater neighbours on the other side of the Nith, the Maxwells of Carlaverock. The connexion between the families of Maxwell of Carlaverock and the Kirkconnels was drawn closer by the marriage of Aymer de Maxwell, 2d son of Sir Herbert de Maxwell of Carlaverock and brother of Sir Herbert de Maxwell of Carlaverock, 1st Lord Maxwell, with Janet de Kirkconnel, the heiress of the ancient family of Kirkconnel, when the name de Kirkconnel was merged in that of Maxwell, and the property went to their descendants of that name. The date of the marriage is unknown, but it may have taken place before the year 1410.

On 11th July 1448, there was a perambulation of the marches of Little Airds, belonging to the abbey of Sweetheart, and Maikle Airds, belonging to Kirkconnel, to which Aymer de Maxwell was a party. (Original Papers and Deeds at Kirkconnel). On 20th March 1456, Aymer de Maxwell and Janet de Kirkconnel, his spouse, had a charter of resignation and confirmation of their lands of Kirkconnel, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright. On 13th November 1461, Aymer de Maxwell of Kirkconnel, superior of the estate of Kelton, which probably was his own, and not acquired by his wife, granted a fen to George Neilson of part thereof.

Aymer’s son, Herbert Maxwell of Kirkconnel, succeeded him. He left two sons, and probably others.

The elder son, whose Christian name is not known, is supposed to have predeceased his father. His brother’s name was John. The former had a daughter, Elizabeth, who succeeded her grandfather, and another daughter, probably named Agnes Maxwell.

Elizabeth Maxwell of Kirkconnel had precept from the Crown directing sasine to be given to her as heir of the late Herbert Maxwell of Kirkconnel and Kelton, her grandfather, in virtue whereof she was infeft in the lands of Kelton in the sheriffdom of Dumfries on 5th November 1492. Among the witnesses of the infeftment were “John Maxwell, uncle of the said Elizabeth, Herbert Maxwell, son of the said John,” &c. Dying without issue, Elizabeth was succeeded by her nephew, Herbert.

Herbert Maxwell of Kirkconnel, under precept from the crown, had sasine given to him, as “heir of the late “Elizabeth Maxwell, his aunt,” (avuncular – mother’s sister,) of the lands of Kirkconnel and Kelton, on 12th April 1495. All accounts of the Kirkconnel and Maxwell families, and genealogists generally, concur in stating that Thomas Maxwell, 2d son of Robert, 2d Lord Maxwell, married Agnes Maxwell, the heiress of Maxwell of Kirkconnel, and that from them the present Kirkconnel family are descended. It is more than probable that Elizabeth’s married sister, whose son Herbert succeeded his aunt, was the Agnes who became the wife of the said Thomas Maxwell, probably between 1450 and 1470, and that it was their son Herbert who was heir to his aunt Elizabeth. This might be inferred from the seal of Herbert attached to a charter granted by him on July 4, 1517, being a saltire, between two small chevrons. The chevron being often used as a mark of cadency, (Nisbet’s Heraldry, vol. i. p. 151,) it would seem that the two chevrons were intended to show his descent from two cadets of the Maxwell family; Aymer, who married Janet de Kirkconnel, and Thomas, thought to have been the father of Herbert. As a follower of the chief of his name, Herbert Maxwell of Kirkconnel was present at the affray, on July 30, 1508, on the sands of Dumfries, between John Lord Maxwell, and Lord Crichton of Sanquhar, and their respective followers, when the latter nobleman was driven from the town, and many of his friends slain (Balfour’s Annals, 1508). For this and other lawless doings Herbert Maxwell received a general remission from the crown on 17th October the same year. He was twice married, By his first wife, whose name is not ascertained, he had four sons; Robert, John, William, and Edward. His 2d wife was Euphemia Lindsay, issue unknown. William, the third son, was in the household of Mary of Guise, and afterwards for a time in a regiment of Scots men at arms in the service of the king of France (MS. On Scottish Guard History). On the 16th February, 1557, he had a grant of the lands of Little Airds. His son, William, succeeded him in Little Airds. The latter had a son, James, who wrote his Autobiography, and was author also of several polemical works.

Herbert died before 28th Dec. 1548. His eldest son, Robert, on July 4, 1517, had a charter from his father of the lands of Kelton. He married Janet Crichton, and on August 16, 1518, had a grant of Auchenfad. He predeceased his father, leaving 2 sons, Herbert and John.

The elder son, Herbert Maxwell of Kirkconnel, had sasine in the lands of Kirkconnel and Kelton as heir to his grandfather, Dec. 28, 1548, and had charter of Auchenfad, January 22, 1548-9. He married a Janet Maxwell, and had a son, Bernard, and three daughters, Agnes, Catherine, and Margaret. He died before 1560.

Bernard Maxwell of Kirkconnel succeeded his father in his minority. On May 6, 1571, with consent of his curators, he executed a disposition of the lands of Kirkconnel and Kelton, in favour of his uncle, John Maxwell, and his heirs male, when failing, to his own heirs general, and reserving his liferent, with power of redemption, in the event of having heirs male himself, and the lands to be held of himself, for £1,000 Scots, on which deed sasine was taken on the following day; also, another deed of the same date, in nearly the same terms, the lands to be held of the crown, on which sasine was taken. He was alive and collecting the feu duties of Airds in 1574 and 1577.

John Maxwell, tutor of Kirkconnel, during the minority of Bernard, his nephew, was infeft, as above stated, in the property, May 7, 1571. He died before his nephew, and before August 1573.

His son, John Maxwell of Kirkconnel, succeeded him, and to his right to the estate in his minority, his tutors or curators being James Crichton of Carco and William Somerville, vicar of Kirkbean. On July 8, 1574, he was retoured heir male to John Maxwell of Kirkconnel, his father, in the lands of Kirkconnel, reserving the liferent therein of Bernard Maxwell and of Janet Maxwell, relict of Herbert Maxwell, in a part thereof; in virtue whereof John Maxwell was infeft therein, Oct. 8, 1574, Bernard Maxwell, the liferenter, being a witness to the infeftment. In April and May, 1593, he took part in the slaughterings and feud between the Maxwells and Johnstons. On Nov. 26, 1601, John Maxwell of Kirkconnel and several others were summoned before the privy council, for contravening the Acts of Parliament against saying and hearing of mass, and entertaining priests, especially Dr. John Hamilton and Abbot Gilbert Brown, and having children baptized by them (Chambers’ Domestic Annals, vol. i., pp. 358, 359). John Spottiswoode, archbishop of Glasgow, having, with a party of soldiers, invaded New Abbey, in search of priests, broke into the house of the exiled abbot, Gilbert Brown, and plundered it of whatever savoured of popery. The books found there were given into the care of John Maxwell of Kirkconnel, who afterwards, being unwilling to part with them, was served with letters of horning on ten days’ charge, ordering him to deliver the same over to Spottiswoode (Original Letters as to Ecclesiastical Affairs, Bannatyne Club, pp. 409-411). John Maxwell of Kirkconnel died after June 29, 1614. He had five sons – 1. Herbert, his successor. 2. John, of Whitehill and Millhill, supposed to have been the father of John Maxwell of Barncleugh, town-clerk of Dumfries. 3. James. 4. Thomas. 5. George.

The eldest son, Herbert Maxwell of Kirkconnel, was esquire in ordinary to the body in the household of James VI., when he succeeded to Kirkconnel. Preferring to continue his attendance on royalty, the king granted him a pension for life of £200 out of the escheats of Scotland. He received charter of confirmation of the lands of Kirkconnel and others, Aug. 28, 1616, and was infeft therein 25th Sept. following. He got into some dispute with James Maxwell of Innerwick, a lord of the bedchamber, afterwards earl of Dirlton, the son of John Maxwell of Kirkhouse. The dispute came before the Court of Session, and four days after the hearing of the case (March 11, 1628), and as if at the instigation of his opponent, Herbert Maxwell of Kirkconnel, Charles Brown in New Abbey, Barbara Maxwell, Lady Mabie, and others, were charged by the privy council with contemning “excommunication and horning,” persisting in “obdured and papish opinions and errors,” and visiting all parts of the country, “as if they were free and lawful subjects.” Sir William Grierson of Lag, and Sir John Chateris of Amisfield, were commissioned to apprehend those thus denounced, as well as their “resetters,” or harbourers. How it fared with Herbert Maxwell does not appear, but the commissioners were successful in capturing in New Abbey Charles Brown of Clachan, and Gilbert Brown of Shambellie (Domestic Annals, vol. ii. pp. 18 and 19); whereupon Janet Johnston of Newbie, Lady Lochhill, spouse of John Brown, assembling the women of the parish, attacked the minister and schoolmaster, their wives and servants, with sticks and stones. For this energetic defence of her faith Lady Lochhill was banished the realm, under a penalty of 1,000 merks if she dared to return. Herbert Maxwell of Kirkconnel died in Oct. 1637, leaving issue – 1. John, his successor. 2. Edward. 3. George. 4. Robert. 5. Barbara (Lady Mabie, March 1623). 6. Marion, and an illegitimate son, Herbert.

The eldest son, John Maxwell of Kirkconnel, was retoured heir to his father, Dec. 19, 1638, in the lands of Kirkconnel, with salmon fishings in the water of Nith, &c., and had sasine therein, Jan. 31, 1639. James Maxwell of Innerwick had received from Charles I. a gift of the non-entry of the lands. In 1642, John Maxwell of Kirkconnel married Agnes, daughter of Stephen Laurie of Maxwelton, and Marion Corsone, his spouse. John Maxwell of Kirkconnel got into difficulties soon after his marriage, but the estate was preserved by the prudent management of his lady, liberally assisted by Lady Maxwelton, her mother. He died in or before the year 1679, his wife surviving him. They had 4 sons and 3 daughters. 1. James. 2. William. 3. Herbert, a Jesuit priest. 4. Stephen, a Jesuit priest. 5. Euphemia, married the laird of Corbeath. 6. Marion. 7. Agnes, married Edmund, eldest son of William Brown of Nunton.

The eldest son, James Maxwell of Kirkconnel, married, in 1672, Elizabeth, only daughter of Alexander Durham of Berwick, son of Sir John Durham of Duntarvie and Lady Margaret Abercromby, probably of Birkenbog. Herbert Maxwell, Jesuit priest, was, in Oct. 1686, appointed chaplain to the earl of Melfort, secretary of James VII., and about the same time, his brother, James Maxwell of Kirkconnel, was appointed one of the receivers-general of the Customs, &c. (commission dated at Whitehall, Oct. 22, 1686). When, on Dec. 10, 1687, King James, by his royal writ, reduced the number of the receivers-general from four to two, he granted to Kirkconnel the office of superintendent of the customs, foreign excise, rents, casualties of royal property, and funds allocated for the payment of fees and pensions. The salary was at first £200, but afterwards £200 yearly. The Revolution soon deprived him of all place and pension. He died in or before the year 1699. He had 4 sons and 2 daughters, viz. – 1. James, his successor. 2. William, who succeeded James. 3. Alexander. 4. Stephen, Jesuit priest. 5. Agnes. 6. Elizabeth.

The eldest son, James Maxwell of Kirkconnel, was educated at Douay, and served heir general to his father Dec. 21, 1699, but never otherwise made up his titles. The Lord Advocate cited him and the earl of Nithsdale to appear before the Justiciary Court in Edinburgh, Feb. 2, 1704, to answer for contravening the acts of parliament against hearing mass and harbouring and concealing Jesuits and priests, and of which “shaking off all fear of God,” it was alleged, they were guilty. This did not prevent him from petitioning the government, in that very year, for payment of a balance due to his father as receiver-general. The books of the kirk session of New Abbey in 1705 stigmatised the Maxwells of Kirkconnel as “a popish family,” and warned Protestants not to take domestic service with them. James Maxwell died, without issue, about 1705.

His next brother, William Maxwell, succeeded to Kirkconnel. Like James, he was educated at Douay, whence he returned to Scotland in 1696. In the inquest by the presbytery into the number of papists in each parish in 1704, William is mentioned as brother of the laird of Kirkconnel. He was served heir general to his brother James, Feb. 14, 1706, in which year he was called on as an heritor to pay his proportion of £137 6s. Scots money for building of the manse of Troqueer. He married, April 29, 1706, Janet, eldest daughter of George Maxwell of Carnsalloch, widow of Colonel John Douglas of Stenhouse, and eventually heiress of Carnsalloch, under the disposition and deed of entail executed by James Maxwell of Carnsalloch, her brother, March 11, 1745. On May 6, 1708, William Maxwell executed a disposition, settling the succession to his estates. On June 15, 1733, he agreed to dispone heritably to William and Robert Birnie 3 merklands of the 12 merklands of Kelton, James Maxwell of Barncleugh, as next Protestant heir to Kirkconnel, giving his assent thereto, which was probably considered necessary by the purchasers, owing to the penal laws then in force against Roman Catholics. John Maxwell of Barncleugh, and Margaret Young, his spouse, the father and mother of the James Maxwell here mentioned, are both entered as “papists” in the list made out for the privy council in 1704. William Maxwell of Kirkconnel died April 13, 1746. John Rigg, sometime tenant in Meikle Knox, and formerly in Townhead, near Kirkconnel, used to relate that when James Maxwell, his son and heir, went off in 1745 to join Prince Charles, the old man, his father, rejoiced, saying that his son was going in a good cause, and that if he lost his life it would be well spent. He had issue – 1. Elizabeth, married, before 1730, to William Maxwell of Munches. 2. James, his successor. 3. Agnes. 4. Janet. 5. Mary. 6. George, Jesuit priest. 7. Margaret. 8. William, Jesuit priest. 9. Marion, married John Menzies of Pitfoddels. 10. Halbert.
The eldest son. James Maxwell of Kirkconnel, commenced grammar at Douay college, August 21, 1721, and was distinguished as a student of great genius and persevering diligence. After concluding his course of philosophy, he returned to Scotland in 1728. In 1745, James Maxwell, then younger of Kirkconnel, took part in the insurrection, and became an officer in the Pretender’s service, and of such rank as to have had access to know the most material things that were transacted “in the council, though not a member of it.” He was, moreover, an “eyewitness of the greatest part of what happened in the field.” After the battle of Culloden he escaped to France, and while residing at St. Germains for several years, drew up a “Narrative of Charles, Prince of Wales’ Expedition to Scotland in the year 1745” (printed by the Maitland Club, 1841), which he evidently intended for publication. While he thus resided abroad, his mother, Janet Maxwell of Carnsalloch, managed the Kirkconnel estate to the best advantage, and protected her son’s interests as far as in her power. In June 1746, the whole troop horses of St. George’s regiment of dragoons were put into the Kirkconnel policies, besides 40 or 50 galloways belonging to the officers or soldiers; and the tacksmen petitioned Lieutenant-General Bland, commander-in-chief in Scotland, for compensation in consequence. In 1750, James Maxwell of Kirkconnel ventured to return to Scotland, and built, with bricks made on the property, the modern portion of the front of Kirkconnel-house. He sold the estate of Carnsalloch, derived from his mother (who died in 1755), to Mr. Alexander Johnston, merchant in London, ancestor of Major-General Johnston of Carnsalloch (1862), and purchased the estate of Mabie. He was a witness in 1755 to the marriage of his sister Marion with John Menzies of Pitfoddels. In 1758 he married Mary, youngest daughter of Thomas Riddell of Swinburne Castle. He died July 23, 1762, aged 54 years. “His Narrative,” the Maitland Club editor says, “is composed with a remarkable degree of precision and taste, inasmuch as rather to appear the production of a practiced litterateur than the work of a private gentleman who merely aimed at giving memoranda of a series of remarkable events which he had chanced to witness.” He left 3 sons – 1. James. 2. William. 3. Thomas, who died June 1, 1792. The two younger sons were educated at the New College of the Jesuits at Dinant, in France, arriving there Sept. 3, 1774. During his attendance at the medical schools in France, William, the 2d son, imbibed the French revolutionary ideas of the time, and was one of the national guards present at the execution of Louis XVI., Jan. 21. 17193 He afterwards settled as a physician in Dumfries, and was for many years one of the most eminent in Scotland of his profession. He died at Edinburgh, at the house of his relative, John Menzies of Pitfoddels, Oct. 13, 1834.

The eldest son, James Maxwell of Kirkconnel, when very young, was, Nov. 16, 1764, served heir in special to his father, and infeft, under a precept from the crown, April 19, 1765, in the lands and barony of Kirkconnel. He was twice married, 1st, to Clementina Elizabeth Frances, daughter of Simon Scroope of Danby, Yorkshire, without issue; and, 2dly, to Dorothy, daughter of William Witham, Esq., solicitor of Grey’s Inn, London, grandson of William Witham of Cliffe, Yorkshire, the marriage contract signed Aug. 29, 1817. He died Feb. 5, 1827, leaving an only daughter, Dorothy Mary Maxwell.

This lady, heiress of Kirkconnel, was on July 27, 1827, served as nearest and lawful heir of tailzie and provision of the deceased James Maxwell of Kirkconnel, her father. She married at Southampton, April 17, 1844, her cousin, Robert Shawe James Witham, eldest surviving son of William Witham, solicitor, Gray’s Inn, London, and great-grandson of William Witham, Esq. of Cliffe, Yorkshire. The Witham pedigree is given in Burke’s Commoners of England, vol. ii. p. 5. This gentleman, as Robert Maxwell Witham, was, with his spouse, duly infeft, under a precept of sasine, dated Oct. 29, 1846, contained in a charter of Resignation granted by the crown, in the lands, barony, and fishings of Kirkconnel, to be holden by them of the crown, in conjunct fee and liferent, and to the heirs of the marriage. The sasine was registered at Edinburgh, Nov. 16, 1846. They had also sasine of the lands of Gillfoot, recorded Feb. 11, 1852. They had 6 sons and 3 daughters. 1. James Robert, died, an infant, May 5, 1845. 2. Frances Mary. 3. and 4. James and Thomas, twins. 5. William Herbert. 6. Janet, died, an infant, May 15, 1853. 7. Maud. 8. Robert Bernard. 9. Aymer Richard.


The Maxwells of Brediland are a branch of the ancient family of the Maxwells of Carlaverock. Crawford, in his History of Renfrewshire, says, “A little towards the north of the castle of Stainley lie the house and lands of Brediland, which have been possessed by the Maxwells of this race for upwards of two hundred years. Their original charter, which I have seen, is granted by Robert, abbot of Paisley, to Thomas Maxwell, designed son of Arthour Maxwell, anno 1488, in the reign of James IV., of whom John Maxwell, now of Brediland, is the lineal heir.” This family has furnished some considerable cadets, as the Maxwells of Castlehead, the Maxwells of Merksworth, and the Maxwells of Dalswinton.

Gavin Maxwell of Castlehead, the son of Hugh Maxwell of Brediland, married Janet, a daughter of Cochran of Clippens, a cadet of the family of Dundonald. Of this family the second son (on the failure of the eldest) succeeded to Brediland, which estate is now in that line.

The third son was James Maxwell of Merksworth. He married Janet Lockie, of Croy Lockie, who (through William Campbell of Glenfalloch) was lineally descended from Archibald, 2d earl of Argyle, and from John, 4th earl of Athole. He had a son, Charles, and a daughter, Ann. The son married Anna Maxwell, the heiress of Williamwood. She was lineally descended from James Maxwell of Williamwood, whose sufferings in the cause of the Reformation are so fully and graphically described by Wodrow in his History of the Church. She sold the estate of Williamwood in 1812, and, on her death in 1815, she was succeeded in the representation of both the families of Williamwood and Merksworth by her next sister, Janet, who married James Graham, Esq., merchant, Glasgow, and the two families came thus to be represented by her eldest son, James Maxwell-Graham, Esq. On his death the estate of Merksworth was inherited by his eldest sister, Agnes, whose daughter (by her marriage with James Smith, Esq. of Craigend), married David Stuart, 8th, properly 13th, earl of Buchan.

Ann, the daughter of James Maxwell of Merksworth, married James Black, Esq. of Paisley, the father of the late Mr. Black of Clairmont, near Glasgow, and of others of that name in Glasgow. (see LECKIE, surname.)

MAXWELL, SIR MURRAY, a gallant and distinguished naval officer, was the son of Alexander Maxwell, Esq., merchant in Leith, and grandson of Sir William Maxwell, baronet, of Calderwood. He commenced his career at sea under the auspices of Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, and in 1796 was appointed a lieutenant. He obtained his commission as post-captain in 1803, when he became commander of the Centaur, a third-rate. After serving with distinction in the West Indies, and in the expedition against Surinam, he exchanged, in the summer of 1805, to the Galatea frigate; and was next nominated to the Alceste, 46, in which, with two other ships under his orders, he greatly signalized himself in an attack on a Spanish fleet near Cadiz. In the spring of 1811, when cruising on the coast of Istria, he assisted in the destruction of a French 18-gun brig, in the harbour of Parenza; and towards the close of the same year, after an engagement of two hours and twenty minutes, he captured the French frigate La Pomone, of 44 guns and 322 men. In October 1815, Captain Maxwell, at the particular request of Lord Amherst, who was then about to proceed on his celebrated embassy to China, was appointed to convey him in the Alceste, which sailed from Spithead February 9, 1816, and landed his lordship at the mouth of the Peiho river on the 9th of August. During Lord Amherst’s absence at Pekin, the Alceste, accompanied by the Lyra brig and General Hewitt, East Indiaman, was employed in a survey of the coasts, in the course of which cruise considerable accessions were made to the knowledge of the hydrographer. Captain Basil Hall, who commanded the Lyra, published, on his return to England, a very interesting narrative of the ‘Voyage to Corca and the Island of Loo Choo,’ dedicating the volume to Sir Murray Maxwell, “to whose ability in conducting the voyage, zeal in giving encouragement to every inquiry, sagacity in discovering the disposition of the natives, and address in gaining their confidence and good-will,” he attributes whatever may be found interesting in his pages.

From this survey Captain Maxwell returned at the beginning of November, and immediately applied to the Chinese authorities for a pass for the Alceste to proceed up the Tigris, to undergo some needful repairs. His request was treated with evasion and delay, and on his attempt to sail without the requisite permission, an inferior mandarin went on board, and desired the ship to be brought to anchor, or the batteries would fire and sink her. Instead of complying with this insolent demand, Captain Maxwell at once detained the mandarin as his prisoner, and issued orders that the Alceste should be steered under the principal fort of the Bocca. On her approach, the batteries, and about eighteen war-junks, opened upon her a heavy, though ill-directed fire; but the return of a single shot silenced the flotilla, and one determined broadside put an end to the ineffectual attack from the batteries. The Alceste proceeded without farther molestation to Whampoa, where she remained until the return of Lord Amherst in January 1817. In consequence of Captain Maxwell’s spirited conduct, it was publicly announced by the Chinese, with their usual dissimulation, that the affair at the Bocca Tigris was nothing more than a friendly salute!
On her homeward bound voyage, the Alceste had proceeded as far as the Straits of Gaspar, when, on the 18th February, she struck on a sunken and unknown rock, three miles distant from Pulo Leat. A landing having been effected on that barren island, Lord Amherst and his suite proceeded in the barge and cutter to Batavia, a distance of 200 miles; and after a passage of four nights and three days, in which they suffered much from the scarcity of water and provisions, they happily arrived at their destination. The Company’s cruiser Ternate was immediately dispatched to Captain Maxwell, and those who remained with him; but in consequence of contrary currents, she did not arrive for a fortnight. Their situation in the meantime had attracted the notice of the Malay proas, or pirate boats, who had obliged Lieutenant Hinckman and his detachment to quit the wreck, which they had burnt to the water’s edge. These boats having increased to about sixty in number, each containing from eight to twelve men, completely blockaded the shipwrecked crew; but on the approach of the Ternate they speedily disappeared. For some days Captain Maxwell had been actively employed in fortifying a hill, and providing his party with ammunition; and so well prepared were they for an attack, that at length they rather wished than dreaded it. Mr. Ellis, the third commissioner of the embassy, who had returned from Batavia in the Ternate, in his published ‘Journal,’ says, “My expectations of the security of the position were more than realized when I ascended the hill; and many an assailant must have fallen before an entrance could have been effected. Participation of privation, and equal distribution of comfort, had lightened the weight of suffering to all; and I found the universal sentiment to be, an enthusiastic admiration of the temper, energy, and arrangements of Captain Maxwell.”

On his return to England he was tried by a court-martial at Portsmouth in August 1817, for the loss of the Alceste, but was most honourable acquitted, the court at the same time declaring that “his coolness, self-collection, and exertions, were highly conspicuous.” He received the honour of knighthood May 27, 1818; and May 20, 1819, he was presented by the East India Company with the sum of £1,500 for the services rendered by him to the embassy, and as a remuneration for the loss he had sustained on his return from China. He was appointed to the bulwark, a third-rate, in June 1821, was removed to the Briton frigate, November 28, 1822, and was afterwards employed on the South American station. In May 1831 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Prince Edward’s Island, and was preparing for his departure, when he died, after a short illness, June 26, of that year.

His portrait, which formed the frontispiece to one of the volumes of the once celebrated Percy Anecdotes, is given below:

[portrait of Sir Murray Maxwell]



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