Maxwell Surname Genealogy
a Scottish surname originating from a place-name in Roxburghshire on
Scottish Borders. The original Maccuswell
came from Max
or Maccus, a former owner of Maxwell
lands south of the river Tweed, plus well
meaning “well.” The place-name Maccuswell
was first recorded in 1144, the
surname shortly afterwards.
Maxwell Resources on
- Maxwell World Website
Maxwell clan website.
- Clan Maxwell Society
US Maxwell clan website.
- The Maxwells
The Maxwells of Dumfries and Liverpool.
- The Maxwell Family of Corduff
Maxwells in Ireland.
- The Maxwell Family
Maxwells in Pennsylvania.
- Maxwell DNA Project
is thought that a Norman called Herbert came into possession of the
lands in Roxburghshire in the late 12th century.
John de Maccusweil followed Herbert and was, from 1200, the Great
of Scotland. His services to the kingdom
brought him the barony of Cærlaverock in Dumfries.
He died without issue around the year
Sir John was succeeded by his younger brother, Aymer de Maxwell, the
to adopt the modern spelling of the surname.
From Aymer’s sons sprang many of the branches of
the family that were to be found in SW Scotland:
his eldest son Sir Herbert
came the main Cærlaverock
line in Dumfries. Cærlaverock castle
served as the family
stronghold from the 13th century. They were ennobled as Lord
1440. These Maxwells were staunch
Catholics during the religious turmoil of the 17th century. Their last hurrah came with the 1715 Jacobite Uprising where the
Maxwells narrowly escaped death.
a younger son Sir John came the Pollock
line in Renfrewshire. The Pollock lands
there were divided into Upper and Lower Pollock, with the Maxwells
Lower Pollock. Through marriage Robert
Maxwell became the laird of Calderwood in Lanarkshire in 1394.
Kirkconnell in Dumfries date from about 1430.
Their laird James Maxwell was Bonnie Prince Charlie’s
the Battle of Culloden in 1746, after which he hurriedly left for
returned in 1750 with a band of French bricklayers to construct a brick
alongside the ancient 13th century fortified tower.
This house stayed with his descendants, but
was recently put up for sale.
Ireland. The Rev. Robert Maxwell, from
Maxwells, had come to Ireland around 1600 and been made the Dean of
From this Robert came the Maxwells of Farnham in Cavan (who were later
barons) and the Maxwells of
of Ballyrolly in county Down.
A Rev. James Maxwell was a Presbyterian minister
in Omagh, county Tyrone for sixty years, from 1690 to 1750. Some records have connected him with the
Maxwell of Strabane who grew up in the Presbyterian settlement there
as the High Sheriff of Tyrone in 1681. Another Thomas Maxwell in
time from the Kirkconnell Maxwells in Scotland, emigrated with his
family to America
England. Maxwells from the Borders
also crossed south
into England. The largest numbers,
according to the 1881 census, were to be found in Lancashire.
were four sons of an old Maxwell family in Dumfries who came to
the early 1800’s and made their fortunes as merchants with some shrewd
investments in railways. Not so rich was
Thomas Maxwell, an Irish immigrant and laborer to Liverpool in the
1830’s. John Maxwell from a Scottish
family in Liverpool perished on
the Titanic in 1912.
Maxwells in America have been Scots or Scots Irish.
that have covered these early Maxwell arrivals in America plus some
Maxwell history have been:
1900 book The World Book of Maxwells.
Houston’s 1916 book Maxwell History and Genealogy.
Norman’s 1966 book Thomas Maxwell of
Virginia and Georgia.
Virginia Arrivals. The earliest Maxwell
arrival might well have
been Joel Maxwell who came with his son to Virginia around the year
according to family lore, Maxwellton in Scotland.
His grandson the
Rev. Thomas Maxwell became a
Baptist preacher who was arrested for preaching a non-Anglican faith. In 1792, seeking religious freedom, he moved
to Elbert county, Georgia to preach and to set up Baptist churches. He died there in 1837 at
the grand old age of ninety seven. He and
his wife Mary had raised eleven children, many of whom migrated to
Thomas Maxwell from the
Kirkconnell Maxwells in Scotland had fought for King James in Ireland. In his later years he left Ireland for America
in 1747 and settled in Augusta county, Virginia. His grandson
at that time, came to Kentucky in 1774 and was one of the founders of
of Lexington. Maxwell Springs and the Maxwell Graveyard were
his legacies that
did not, however, survive.
Maxwell, said to
have been from the Calderwood Maxwells, came to Albemarle county,
1751. Later Maxwells of this family
moved to North Carolina, Kentucky and onto Overton county,
Maxwell, coming to Virginia from Ulster, fought in the
William Maxwell, who had grown up in
resided for a time in Lexington, Kentucky before moving west to Ohio in
first newspaper for what was then the Northwest Territory.
Alexander and Jane
Maxwell left their home in Scotland in 1770 and, after a brief sojourn
Ireland, came to America and settled in New York state.
Their grandson William, based in Elmira, was
active in the early railroad developments in the area in the 1840’s.
Hugh Maxwell, the son of an Englishman in
Dublin, had come to New York in 1815 and departed a year or so later
Kaskaskia, Illinois on the western frontier.
His son Lucien, born there in 1818, headed further west in the
far as New Mexico. Here, through a
marriage and subsequent land acquisitions, he became the owner of huge
(in excess of 1.7 million acres) which came to be known as the Maxwell Land
Canada. Many of the early Maxwell
arrivals in Canada
were Irish or more probably Scots Irish.
William and Agnes Maxwell came to Owen Sound in Ontario sometime
1830. Their sons William and Hamilton
later moved west to Saskatchewan.
William Maxwell meanwhile, also from Ireland, settled in
Brunswick as a young man in 1850.
Henry and Susannah Maxwell were free blacks in
Pennsylvania who faced harassment and left for Canada in 1858. They settled in Richmond Hill near
Toronto. Susannah died in 1923 at
remarkable age of 117.
New Zealand. Thomas Maxwell, probably
from Aberdeen, was a
very early settler in New Zealand, arriving at the Bay of Islands on
whaling ship Harriet in 1820 or
thereabouts. Known locally as Tame Kohe,
he married the daughter of a local Maori chief and seemed to have
to Maori ways. He apparently drowned
while on a sea voyage up the east coast of North Island in 1841.
James Maxwell came
with his wife Mary to Wellington in 1840.
The family later settled in Auckland.
James died in 1857 at the age of thirty seven when he fell off
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
killed at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, is considered the
of the Maxwell Cærlaverock
was the Scottish 19th century scientist who made pioneering discoveries
field of electromagnetism.
Elsa Maxwell was
gossip columnist and writer, renowned for her parties for royalty and
society figures of her day.
Maxwell, a Jewish entrepreneur who was born Jan Hoch and escaped
developed a publishing and newspaper empire in Britain after the War. He fell overboard from his yacht in 1991
businesses began to fail.
Select Maxwells Today
- 16,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 24,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 21,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
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