Lords Maxwell (c.1454)


1st Lord Maxwell, Herbert Maxwell, b.b.1413, a.c.1454, d.c.1454


The Maxwells were a prominent family in the south of Scotland, descended allegedly from an Anglo-Saxon noble who had fled to Scotland at the Norman Conquest, and originally had lands near Kelso on the Tweed under the name of Maccuswell as early as the reign of David I. Members of the family held high office, including Great Chamberlain of Scotland, and various sheriffdoms. The large estates of Mearns and Nether Pollok in Renfrewshire came into the family by marriage in the mid thirteenth century, which created the two main branches of the family in later times. In the year 1300, Sir Herbert Maxwell held Carlaverock Castle against the English for some considerable time with only a few men, although like most Scottish nobles he had switched sides repeatedly until then, and his son likewise withstood an English siege there in 1312. The castle was eventually dismantled as the danger of it falling into enemy hands was too great. The 1st Lord Maxwell had been knighted at the coronation of James I in 1441, and was raised to the Peerage shortly before he died.


2nd Lord Maxwell, Robert Maxwell, b.c.1425, a.c.1454, d.c.1485


Son of the 1st Lord and Janet Herries (b.c.1405, d.?), daughter of Sir Herbert Herries of Terregles.


3rd Lord Maxwell, John Maxwell, b.c.1454, a.c.1485, d.1513


Grandson of the 2nd Lord and Janet Forrester, daughter of Sir John Forrester of Corstorphine, and son of John Maxwell, Master of Maxwell (b.?, d.1484) and Janet Crichton, daughter of George Crichton, 1st Earl of Caithness. In some numberings, his father is included as 3rd Lord since the exact time of his death is not known.


4th Lord Maxwell, Robert Maxwell, b.c.1493, a.1513, d.1546


Son of the 3rd Lord and Agnes Stewart (b.?, d.1530), daughter of Sir Alexander Stewart of Garlies. He was close to James V and was one of the ambassadors sent to France to negotiate the King’s marriage to Mary of Guise. In 1542 he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Solway Moss and released along with many others after agreeing to further the aims of the English King Henry VIII by trying to obtain the marriage of the infant Queen Mary to Prince Edward. Having failed in this task, Maxwell was the only noble to fulfil his oath and return to captivity in England. Maxwell, his son also a captive, then offered up Carlaverock Castle as proof of his allegiance to Henry. However, the Regent Arran recovered Carlaverock and also captured Maxwell’s other castles at Lochmaben and Threave. Maxwell was at first held for treason, but was released after protesting that his actions were made under fear for his life and those of his family, and made Warden of the West Marches. In his last years he was instrumental in bringing Protestant views into Parliament.


5th Lord Maxwell, Robert Maxwell, b.c.1510, a.1546, d.1552


Son of the 4th Lord and Janet Douglas, daughter of Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig. He was involved in his father’s dealings with the English, and from this time the dispute that turned into a family feud with the Johnstones seems to originate, the Laird of Johnstone refusing to follow his feudal superior, with bribery and state interference rife. He was captured by the English in a cross-border raid in 1545 and was held in the Tower of London until 1549.


6th Lord Maxwell, Robert Maxwell, b.c.1550, a.1552, d.c.1554


Son of the 5th Lord and Beatrix Douglas, daughter of James Douglas, 3rd Earl of Morton and Catherine Stewart, daughter of King James IV. He succeeded as an infant and died when only four years old.


7th Lord Maxwell, John Maxwell, b.1552, a.c.1554, d.1593


Younger brother of the 6th Lord, and born after the death of his father. He was raised by his uncle, Sir John Maxwell of Terregles, and as a young man he sided with Queen Mary, and suffered severely in having his estates laid waste and his castles thrown down. In 1572 he reluctantly submitted before the Government of James VI, and was made Warden of the West Marches. The Lord Maxwell now raised the issue of the succession of the earldom of Morton. The 4th Earl of Morton was the husband of the 3rd Earl’s youngest daughter, while Maxwell was the son of the 3rd Earl’s second daughter, and claimed the earldom as his own. However, the 4th Earl was Regent, and he stripped Maxwell of the Wardenship, giving it to the Johnstones, and placed him under arrest. Morton, though, fell from grace in 1577 with the arrival of Esme Stewart, and Maxwell was released. Maxwell remained close to Esme Stewart, who became Duke of Lennox, and James Stewart, Earl of Arran. In 1581, Morton was executed for treason and Maxwell obtained the earldom of Morton and the position of Warden again. He lost the wardenship for the second time after the Raid of Ruthven, Esme Stewart leaving for France and dying soon after, but regained it some months later when the King escaped, allowing Arran to take control. However, Maxwell and Arran fell out over land, with the result that Maxwell was declared an outlaw and ordered to submit himself and his castles to Johnstone, who had once again been handed the wardenship. Maxwell was able to field large numbers of men, discouraging reprisals. However, the King now reversed the 4th Earl of Morton’s attainder to allow Archibald Douglas, 8th Earl of Angus to succeed, and Maxwell lost all these lands and revenues, although he kept using the title. When the Protestant nobles led by Bothwell and Home invaded from England, Maxwell, though a Roman Catholic, joined his forces to theirs and Arran was expelled. He was not to enjoy this situation for long, as he was soon arrested for practicing his Catholicism openly. He was released the following year in 1586, and obtained leave from his sovereign to travel abroad as long as he should do nothing prejudicial to the realm. In reality, he was keen, like most Catholic nobles, to ally himself with King Philip II of Spain, who was planning to invade England, and he once more fell foul of the prevailing powers. He returned to Scotland in 1588 in order to raise forces to support Philip’s invasion. The King, realising the danger this represented to the country, was forced to take action, and led an army towards Dumfries, where Maxwell was based. Maxwell at first evaded capture, but after his castles were turned over to James he was eventually caught and taken to Edinburgh. He was released the following year, promising to convert to Protestantism. In 1593, an escalation of the long-running feud between the Maxwells and the Johnstones resulted in a large-scale battle at Dryfe Sands near Lockerbie, with most of the main Border families taking one side or the other. Lord Maxwell died from blood-loss after his right hand was cut off.


8th Lord Maxwell, John Maxwell, b.c.1585, a.1593, d.1613


Son of the 7th Lord and Lady Elizabeth Douglas (b.?, d.1637), daughter of David Douglas, 7th Earl of Angus. The King made a show of anger at the death of his Warden and declared the Johnstone alliance as rebels, but shortly afterwards let them off the hook, and the feud continued. This situation was not helped when in 1596 Johnstone was made Warden, though this did not last long as Johnstone’s conduct was so bad that he was replaced. Like his father, Maxwell was a staunch Roman Catholic, and was temporarily imprisoned in 1601 for attending mass. Again like his father, he was an outwardly aggressive man, and challenged the new Earl of Morton to a duel in 1607, for which he was again imprisoned, though he broke out and went on the run in his own domains. In 1608, in an attempt to curry favour with the King, he attempted to negotiate a truce with the Johnstone family. However, a meeting between the two flared up and he shot Sir James Johnstone, Laird of Johnstone, in the back as he rode away. For this he was declared a traitor and fled to France. He returned to Scotland in 1612, hoping that things had settled in his absence, but such was not to be, and he attempted to escape to Sweden with the help of George Sinclair, 5th Earl of Caithness. Sinclair, however, turned him in, and he was executed in Edinburgh. The famous Lay of Lord Maxwell’s Goodnight was written, probably prior to his death, and commemorated the feud with the Johnstones in Romantic fashion.


9th Lord Maxwell, Robert Maxwell, b.1586, a.1613, d.1646


Younger brother of the 8th Lord. The Maxwell estates had been forfeited to the Crown in 1609, and it was not until 1620 that the King fully restored everything that had belonged to the previous holder, and in a move to reconcile the fact that there were two earls of Morton, changed the name of the Maxwell title to Earl of Nithsdale.



Earls of Nithsdale (1620)


1st Earl of Nithsdale, Robert Maxwell, as above


The new earl was a staunch Royalist, and during the Civil Wars used his castles as garrisons to support the royal cause, restoring Carlaverock to its original strength. A Protestant army besieged the castle without success until Maxwell surrendered with the King’s approval. The castle was again dismantled so that it could not be used as a base for royal troops. He was exiled in 1639, and in 1643 he was made forfeit.


2nd Earl of Nithsdale, Robert Maxwell, b.1620, a.1646, d.1667


Son of the 1st Earl and Elizabeth Beaumont (b.?, d.1671). Another committed royalist, he was captured at Newcastle in 1644 and imprisoned in Edinburgh until Montrose won at the Battle of Kilsyth in 1646, and in 1647 an Act of Parliament restored him to his titles, though his coffers had been emptied in the royal cause. At the Restoration, he petitioned the King for recompense, but this request was ignored. He died unmarried and was succeeded by the heir-male, John Maxwell, 7th Lord Herries of Terregles, who was a son of the 1st Earl’s sister and separately a descendant of the 4th Lord Maxwell.



Lords Herries of Terregles (1490)


1st Lord Herries, Herbert Herries, b.?, a.1490, d.c.1505


The Herries were another prominent Anglo-Saxon family long established in the south of Scotland.


2nd Lord Herries, Andrew Herries, b.c.1477, a.c.1505, d.1513


Son of the 1st Lord and Mariot Carlyle, daughter of Sir John Carlyle, 1st Lord Carlyle of Torthorwald. He died at Flodden alongside four of his brothers.


3rd Lord Herries, William Herries, b.?, a.1513, d.1543


Son of the 2nd Lord and Nicholas Home, daughter of Alexander Home, 2nd Lord Home.


4th Lord (Baroness) Herries, Agnes Herries, b.1534, a., d.1593-1594


Daughter of the 3rd Lord and Catherine Kennedy.


5th Lord Herries, William Maxwell, b.c.1555, a.1593-1594, d.1604


Son of Baroness Herries and Sir John Maxwell (b.1512, d.1582-1583), son of Robert Maxwell, 4th Lord Maxwell. John Maxwell was as involved as his brother the 5th Lord in the political events of the time. As a fierce nationalist he held Lochmaben Castle against the English. Following his brother’s early death, he became guardian to the 6th and 7th Lords Maxwell and controlled large numbers of men in support of Queen Mary. In 1566 he married the Baroness Herries, becoming 4th Lord Herries de uxoris, increasing the numbers at his disposal even more. John Maxwell commanded the Queen’s cavalry at the Battle of Langside and accompanied her in her flight after that defeat. He was involved with his nephew in the dealings afterwards where power swung back and forth between the various factions. In contrast, his son had a very quiet life.


6th Lord Herries, John Maxwell, b.?, a.1604, d.1631


Son of the 5th Lord and Catherine Kerr (b.?, d.1600), a grand-daughter of George Leslie, 4th Earl of Rothes and sister to Mark Kerr, 1st Earl of Lothian.


7th Lord Herries, John Maxwell, b.?, a.1631, d.1677


Son of the 6th Lord and Elizabeth Maxwell (b.b.1579, d.c.1640), daughter of John Maxwell, 7th Lord Maxwell. He inherited his maternal uncle’s title.



Earls of Nithsdale (1620, continued)


3rd Earl of Nithsdale, John Maxwell, b.?, a.1667, d.1677


As with many supporters of the King during the Civil War, he was hard-pressed by Parliament and subject to the imposition of heavy fines, for which he tried to obtain recompense after the Restoration, without success.


4th Earl of Nithsdale, Robert Maxwell, b.1628, a.1677, d.1696


Son of the 3rd Earl and Elizabeth Gordon, daughter of Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar. Another staunch supporter of the now discredited regime of Charles II, he benefited from obtained lands confiscated from Covenanters, but remained in relative poverty all his life.


5th Earl of Nithsdale, William Maxwell, b.1676, a.1696, d.1744


Son of the 4th Earl and Lady Lucy Douglas (b.1644-1654, d.1713), daughter of William Douglas, 1st Marquess of Douglas (for whom see the earls of Angus). He was a Jacobite, and was active at the 1715 rebellion. After the Battle of Preston, he was captured and held at the Tower of London under sentence of death, his titles forfeit. Fortunately, he had already disposed of his estates to his son, and so they were not included in the attainder. His wife Winifred, Lady Nithsdale, made desperate pleas to King George to obtain his release, but when her petitions were ignored, she concocted an elaborate scheme to save him, and she succeeded by switching places, so that he escaped wearing woman’s clothing while she remained behind, pretending that he was still in the room to which he had been confined. The couple eventually joined the rest of the exiled Jacobites in Rome.



Lords Herries of Terregles (1490, continued)


10th Lord Herries, William Constable-Maxwell, b.1804, a.1858, d.1876


The 5th Earl married Winifred Herbert (b.?, d.1749), daughter of William Herbert, 1st Marquess of Powys. Their son, also William Maxwell (b.?, d.1776) was allowed access to the estates of the family due to the foresight of his father, but not the titles. He married Catherine Stewart (b.1705, d.1765), daughter of Charles Stewart, 4th Earl of Traquair. Their daughter Winifred Maxwell (b.?, d.1801) married William Haggerston Constable (b.?, d.1797), son of Sir Carnaby Haggerston, 3rd Baronet Haggerston of Northumberland. Their son Marmaduke William Haggerston-Constable (b.1760, d.1819) married Theresa Apollonia Wakeman (b.?, d.1846). He changed his surname to Constable-Maxwell and separated the various remaining estates between several of his sons. In 1848, Parliament reversed the forfeiture of the 5th Earl, and in 1858 the House of Lords recognised his eldest son William as 10th Lord Herries.


11th Lord Herries, Marmaduke Francis Constable-Maxwell, b.1837, a.1876, d.1908


Son of the 10th Lord and Marcia Mary Vavasour (b.1816, d.1883), daughter of Sir Edward Marmaduke Joseph Vavasour, 1st Baronet Vavasour of Hazelwood. In 1884 he was created 1st Baron Herries of Caerlaverock Castle, but this title became extinct at his death. He was also Lord-Lieutenant of the East Riding of Yorkshire from 1880 to 1908 and of Kirkcudbrightshire from 1885 to 1908.


12th Lord (Baroness) Herries, Gwendoline Mary Herries, b.1877, a.1908, d.1945


Daughter of the 11th Lord and Angela Mary Charlotte Fitzalan-Howard (b.?, d.1919), daughter of Edward George Firzalan-Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Glossop, himself a son of Henry Charles Howard, 13th Duke of Norfolk.


13th Lord Herries, Bernard Marmaduke Fitzalan-Howard, b.1908, a.1945, d.1975


Son of the 12th Baroness and Henry Fitzalan-Howard, 15th Duke of Norfolk, and himself the 16th Duke of Norfolk. He had four daughters, so the dukedom passed to a cousin, while the lordship was allowed to pass to his eldest daughter.


14th Lord (Baroness) Herries, Anne Elizabeth Fitzalan-Howard, b.1938, a.1975


Daughter of the 13th Lord and Lavinia Mary Strutt (b.1916, d.1995). She married to the famous cricketer Colin Cowdrey.


(Last updated: 23/08/2009)