A Brief History of the Claimants

To open this part of the history of the heir-males of the Maxwell family it is necessary to determine what the an heir-male is. Scotland is by heritage a patriarchal rather than a matriarchal society such as that in Spain. That is to say that inheritance has  in Scotland traditionally gone to the sons and in particular the eldest son. The eldest son would usually get the principal estate of his father and younger son would have property settled on them in their fathers lifetime or if no property was available, they would be set up in business with their fathers help. Daughters would be married off to husbands with prospects either of inheritance or with established income. If available a dowry might be given with the bride as an inducement to potential husbands. If there were no sons, the daughters would become joint heiresses and the estates would be split amongst the them but usually held back from them to be passed to their husbands should they marry or on to nephews if they did not. In the main therefore, property and titles would pass by right of inheritance to the eldest son he being the heir-male. In the Maxwell family two lines of inheritance have evolved, one being the heir-male and the other being the heir-general. We will look at the latter first.

When William Maxwell of Nithsdale died in 1777 he left but a single daughter, Winifred.  She then became his sole heir and by definition his heir-general. Her inheritance was her grandfather's vast estates of the Earldom of Nithsdale which she placed into the hands of her husband William Haggerston-Constable of Everingham Hall in Yorkshire.. He took the additional name of Maxwell and between them, they gave rise to the vast army of Constable-Maxwells, Constable-Maxwell Stuarts and Constable-Maxwell Scotts that abound today. The grandson of Winifred, William Constable-Maxwell claimed the title of Lord Herries in 1848 by proving that the title had come to the Maxwell family from the Herries family through right of inheritance of heirs-general although the evidence appears that Mary, Queen of Scots, made Sir John Maxwell of Terragles,  Lord Herries as a new creation in 1567. William Maxwell of Carruchan, the then heir-male, contested the claim but lost the case in the House of Lords. The title of Lord Herries has subsequently passed to the family of the Duke of Norfolk as William, Lord Herries' granddaughter who was heir-general to the title, married into that family.

In the Chief's Lineage we looked at how the chiefdom of the name had devolved down to the heir-male, William Maxwell of Carruchan. He having died without children and being last of his line the next heir-male is to be sort from the descendants of Alexander Maxwell of Park and Terraughty. To best explain this search I will now quote from an article that appeared in The Genealogical Magazine of 1897. It was written and presumably researched by one W. Harold Maxwell whom I have been unable to identify. 

The Dormant Earldom of Nithsdale
by W. Harold Maxwell

The heirship to the dormant. title Earl of Nithsdale forms one of the many unsolved riddles so frequent in the genealogical annals of our country. The following is an attempt to elucidate the mystery. The last Earl of Nithsdale, whose romantic escape from the Tower in the year 1716 is a matter of history, fled. to Rome, where he died, 20th March 1744. The place of his burial is unknown. His wife survived him five years. Their only son, William Maxwell, who, but for his father's attainder, would have succeeded as sixth Earl of Nithsdale and tenth Lord Herries, was twice married. By his first wife, Lady Catherine Stuart, he had two daughters, Mary and Winifred. The latter only survived him, and from her the present Lord Herries is descended. William Maxwell married secondly, 11th August 1767, at St. George's, Hanover Square, to Miss Ann Fox. This marriage is ignored in the Book of Carlaverock. Nothing is known of her parentage. She died without issue, 6th March 1773. William being the last male descendant of his great‑grandfather, John, third Earl of Nithsdale, the title should have reverted on his death to a descendant of James Maxwell of Breconside, Johnís next brother. It is his family that we will now attempt to trace.
James Maxwell of Breconside and Terraughty, was living 22nd June 1749. By his wife Margaret, daughter of Vans of Barnbarroch, and relict of  Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, he left two sons, John, who died unmarried before 3rd May 1718 and Alexander Maxwell of Park, Dalbeattie and Terraughty, who died 10th October 1701, and was twice married. By his first wife, Margaret, youngest daughter of Alexander Murray of Conheath and Terraughty, Alexander had six sons and two daughters, Of these, James, three other sons, and one daughter died young. The two surviving sons were:
1 .John, who died 12th May 1724. His male descendants, the last of whom died in the year 1810 can be found in the Book of Carlaverock.
2. George, who was a cabinet‑maker in London, where he died, unmarried, between 4th January  and 23rd February 1748
Alexander married, secondly, Janet, daughter of John Irving, Provost of Dumfries, and had issue by her five daughters, whose names may be found in the Book of Carlaverock, and five sons: 
1.
William, born 1689, whose last male descendant, William Maxwell of Carruchan, proved his claim to the title in 1856. No proceedings however were taken upon the claim, and he died, without issue 21st  May 1863.
2.
James, born and died 1691.
3.
Alexander, an upholsterer in London, where he died. He was living 4th January 1748, when his brother George left him a legacy, but I can find no further trace of him. If he left any children, which I am inclined to think is improbable, the headship of the house would rest with them.
4.
Herbert, born 1698. Nothing whatever is known concerning him, and there is no mention of him, or children of his, in the wills of his brothers George and Charles. It may therefore be assumed that he died young.
5.
Charles, born at Terraughty, 28th July 1700, was an upholsterer and broker in New Broad Court, Drury Lane, in the parish of St Giles, and died between 20th and 26th April 1758. He was of St. Jamesís parish in 1724, at the time of his marriage with Margaret McBraire of Worcester. She was born about 1698 and died at Chelsea, between 16th and 26th February 1762. Charles left issue
1. Charles, mentioned in his mother's will as the eldest son. He was an apothecary and surgeon at 29, Fleet Street, and a liveryman of the Apothecaries' Company, and died between 2nd and 12th January 1786, He was thrice married.
2. Robert and William, of whom hereafter.
3. Alexander, a minor at the date of his father's will (20th April 1758). In his mother's will, dated 29th August 1761, he was left some goods which in a codicil dated 16th February 1762, were left to others. It therefore seems probable that he died between these dates.
4.
Margaret,  born after 1727. She married William Cunningham, surgeon on H.M.S. Blenheim.
Charles Maxwell the younger married, first, Mary Magdalen Cousein, marriage settlement being dated 14th October 1754. She died before 15th November 1769 (when administration of her goods was granted to her husband), leaving issue:
1. Margaret. who, according to the Book of Carlaverock, married Mr. Turnbull, and went to America. She was living, unmarried, 12th January 1786, on which date she proved her fatherís will, so she is probably identical with the Miss Maxwell of Bury Street, St. Jamesís, who, according to the Gentleman's Magazine on 8th January 1791, married George Turnbull Esq.
Charles Maxwell married, secondly, Isabella Delbraid, who died between 7th February and 8th August 1771, and was buried at Wing, in Buckinghamshire near her mother. She left her freehold and real estate in Buckinghamshire to her nephew, Henry Gardiner, and her personality to her husband, so probably died without issue. His third wife was Helen, eldest daughter of James Douglas, physician in Carlisle, and grand-daughter of Sir William Douglas, of Kelhead. No mention is made of her in her husbandís will, so she probably predeceased him, leaving issue:
1. Charles William.
2. James Douglas.
3. Charlotte, who married, 23rd September 1792, Mr Williams of Manchester.

Charles William, the eldest son of Charles Maxwell was born about 1775, and entered St. Paul's School on 10th January 1785 aged nine years. He entered the army in 1796, and attained the rank of Lieutenant‑General in 1841, was Governor of several of the West Indian Islands, and was knighted in 1836. He died at Broadstairs, 23rd September 1848, and is buried at Kensal Green Cemetery. According to the Gentleman's Magazine, Sir Charles was twice married, on 5th April 1821 at Locksley House, Dumfries, to his second cousin Mary, daughter of Colonel William Douglas of Greencroft; and, secondly to a daughter of Charles Bird. In the Annual Register the death is mentioned, on 17th November 1860 at George Street, Bathwick Hill, Bath, of Catherine Wade, widow of Lieutenant‑General Sir Charles William Maxwell. She was, we suppose, the daughter of Charles Bird; or does this indicate that he married a third wife? In his will two natural sons only are mentioned. It is to be presumed, therefore, that he left no legitimate issue.
James Douglas Maxwell was born about 1777, and entered St. Paul's School on the same day as his brother, at the age of eight years. We can find nothing more about him; but as he is not mentioned in Sir Charles Maxwell's will, although legacies are left to the children of his sister Charlotte and several other persons, it is probable that he died unmarried before that date.
If this supposition is correct, the headship rests with the descendants of one of the other sons of Charles Maxwell, the upholsterer. It is uncertain whether Robert or William was the elder. Neither appears to have been baptized in any of the Drury Lane parishes. Robert Maxwell in 1762, the date of his mother's will, was living at New Broad Court, Drury Lane. His uncle, George Maxwell, left him all his working tools and benches and stock of wood, so he was probably a joiner. In the Book of Carlaverock he is said to have gone to Grenada, and to have twice married. By his first marriage he had one daughter who died in Dumfries. By his second he had a son, Homer, and others whose names are not mentioned.
William, the next son of Charles Maxwell, the upholsterer, was a merchant, and was living in Bristol in 1761. He is said in the Book of Carlaverock, to have gone to New York. His wifeís name was Marion. She was living in 1762, when her mother‑in‑law left her a legacy. Legacies were also left to Robert and James Homer, two of William Maxwellís sons. There were therefore probably other children.
Robert is probably identical with the Robert Maxwell, Lieutenant‑Fireworker in Colonel Pierce's regiment of artillery at Fort William in Bengal, the administration of whose estate was, on 26th January 1779, granted to his father, William Maxwell, residing at New York.
In the list of scholars at St. Paul's School is James Maxwell, nephew of Charles Maxwell of 29, Fleet Street, who was admitted on 14th September 1770 aged thirteen. Whether he is identical with James Homer Maxwell, or whether Robert Maxwell had a son of that name, is uncertain.
This article is, of course, very incomplete, but it is to be hoped that it will be the means of bringing further information to light. Perhaps some American genealogist will be able to complete the pedigree of this branch.
(A paragraph recently appeared in the Daily Mail (vide "Genealogical Magazine" p60), which indicates that an actual claimant is in the field. We have several times endevoured to communicate with Miss Maxwell in hope of publishing any pedigree or details she may possess, but unfortunately so far we have been unsuccessful.--Ed.)

W. Harold Maxwell has made extensive use of the Book of Carlaverock, published by William Fraser in 1873. As to whether the genealogies in Fraser are correct remains to be proved, but there are differences with the work produced by W. Harold Maxwell which is probably due to him having better access to records in London.
We must now deal with the first claimants. These were the 'children' of Lt
General, Sir Charles William Maxwell quoted above. His story is somewhat bizarre when one considers his position. He was commissioned in 1796, rose to captain in '97 and to Major in 1808 serving in the Royal African Corps. In 1809 he was Lt. Colonel and was governor-general and Commanding Chief of Senegal and Sierre Leone until 1815. In the same year he was made a 'Companion of the Bath' and became the Lt. Colonel of the 21st Regiment of Foot. He later served at Gibraltar and in Malta. He was Brevet Colonel in 1819 and became Governor and C-in-C of several Caribbean islands. He was Major General in 1830 and Knighted in 1836. He was finally promoted to Lt. General in 1841 and had the Colonelsy of the 3rd West Indian Regiment in 1843. He retired to England where he died in on 23rd September 1848. This fine military and diplomatic record was however marred with some unfortunate circumstances in his personal life. He married his cousin, Mary, daughter of Lt. Colonel William Douglas of Greencroft on 5th April 1821 at Dumfries and returned to the Caribbean with his new wife. However the climate did not suit her and she became ill and died only twenty months later on 9th January 1823. Some time after this the Colonel moved a certain Catherine Wade into his residence. She was the daughter of Charles Bird, and was married to a Mr Wade, reputedly a Plantation Overseer by trade. Catherine had two sons William born in 1818 and Christopher born in 1820. But these children also moved in to the residence with her. It is reported that that she assumed the role of house keeper but is reported to have enjoyed a more intimate role within the residency. Another three children 'appeared', whether the illegitimate children of the Colonel or by her husband Wade it is not known. Their names were Robert, James and Laura. Of Catherine's two elder sons, William and Christopher, both took the surname of Maxwell, they were sent to England, educated and migrated to New Zealand, landing there, in the New Zealand Company ship 'Aurora' in 1840 with sufficient funds to buy land and establish farms. Both subsequently married and have descendants living today. Catherine reputedly married Sir Charles in the same year he was knighted, 1836, but where is not ascertained. In W. Harold Maxwell's report the last paragraph alludes to a claimant being in the field. The Miss Maxwell (who, as a female had nothing to claim in theory) turned out to be Laura, the daughter of Catherine Wade. The circumstances of Laura's birth were uncertain, but she was roundly dismissed, being declared illegitimate in the press, having come forward to declare herself as the daughter of Sir Charles. She beat a hasty retreat after the hostile press reports and was not heard from again. Her brother James made a similar claim to be the legitimate son of Sir Charles a few years later but was also dismissed as illegitimate. The next to 'declare' were the children of William Maxwell the New Zealand émigré in the 1920's but evidence of William's birth date was available thus dismissing the claim that he was the son of Mary Douglas, the first wife of Sir Charles. As recently as 1989, I received a copy of a letter from a Norman Scott Maxwell of San Pedro, California, who claimed to be lineally descended from Sir Charles. The letter is reproduced here whilst maintaining the anonymity of the original recipient:

"Your February letter was most interesting. However, my preliminary investigation indicates that some people have been walking on sparrow tracks with duck feet! Some of the sparrow tracks are typically indicated in "Gentleman's Magazine." For example, in its 1848 issue, this magazine published a purported summary of the life of Lt. Gen. Sir C. W. Maxwell. Extracts: ".ÖHe became Major General in 1830 and received the honour of knighthood in 1836 ...." " .... He attained the rank of Lt. Gen. (in) 1811...."
A few actual facts:
1) Lt. Gen. Sir Charles William Maxwell, born in early 1776, was promoted to the rank of Lt. Gen. and knighted on the field of Waterloo by Wellington in 1815. (Yes, he did attain the rank of Major Gen. at the remarkably young age of 35 in 1811. He entered the army in 1796 as a Lieutenant.)
2) On April 5, 1816, Sir Charles married Mary Douglas, only daughter of one of his officers, Col. Wm. Douglas, in Dumfries.
3) Sir Charles and Lady Mary went to St. Kitts in 1816 to re-assume his position as Governor, a post he'd left in 1813 to join Wellington's army.
4) Lady Mary delivered William Charles Maxwell in 1818 in Dominica, and Christopher Nithsdale Maxwell in 1820 in St. Christopher. Catherine Wade, a beautiful but aggressive woman, was their "nanny." She was then married to a destitute drunkard, Wade -- first name unknown. Her family name was Bird. Her ancestry was English and Spanish. She had borne Wade three children, Laura, Robert and James.
5) Lady Mary died on January 9, 1823 as the result of a "fever" in Dominica.
6) Sir Charles took a leave of absence to England from his Governor's post in 1831, in which year he entered his sons into St. Paul's School, (which he (Sir Charles) attended from 1785 through 1795).
7) In 1836, he was required to present himself to the Court of Queen Victoria to confirm his 1815 field knighthood. In this process, he made, a fundamental social mistake. As a widower, he introduced Catherine to the Queen as his future wife. A group led by a guy named James Maxwell, who was seeking the Earldom of Nithsdale, protested to the Queen, claiming that Sir Charles was living "in sin" with a "concubine." Sir Charles was subsequently barred from the Court.
8) Upset, mad and distressionally impacted, Sir Charles married Catherine Bird in 1836 in Dumfries, and they returned to the British West Indies (the Virgin Islands).
9) During the next 10 years, Sir Charles filled Governor posts on several Virgin Islands. However, his health was steadily declining and Catherine increasingly assumed control over him.
10) In 1846, Catherine persuaded Sir Charles to return to England. By then she was actually dictating the actions of her husband.
11) Virtually incoherent mentally and bedridden Sir Charles became during the period of' 1846 through 1848 (in which year he died on September 23 totally dominated by Catherine.
12) In the meanwhile, William and Christopher had graduated from St. Paul's. In 1845, William Charles persuaded Sir Charles to finance him so that he could settle in New Zealand. (I have not yet researched what happened to Christopher except that I understand he also left England.)
13) During 1846 and 1848, Catherine accomplished a number of interesting objectives. Laura, Robert and James became Laura Nithsdale Maxwell, William Robert Maxwell and Christopher James Maxwell, all "natural" children of Sir Charles and Catherine. She motivated a Sir Charles will identifying his "natural" children.
XXXXXX, I may owe you a great favor. Because you have motivated me to begin a research of my ancestors, the end result may indicate that I am now the most eligible letitimate heir of both titles of Lord Maxwell of Dumfries and Earl of Nithsdale"

I believe that Norman Maxwell was claiming descent from the elder 'son' of Sir Charles being William. In a pedigree which I have of William's descendants, a Scott (Norman) Maxwell appears to be the grandson of William by his second son, Christopher Freke Maxwell. This Scott appears to have been the third son of the affore mentioned Christopher Freke Maxwell. I have, however had correspondence with Peter Valentine Nithsdale Maxwell of Auckland, New Zealand, who is the eldest son of the older brother of Scott (Norman) Maxwell and this correspondence was subsequent the date of the latter's letter. It is perhaps easy to condemn the 'evidence' in Norman Maxwell's letter, however it is likely that a lot of his findings are based of family oral tradition in which facts are often distorted inadvertently. But the persistence of the family stories continues to allow for the possibility that there is some truth in the claim. If the descendants of this family can produce evidence to support the legitimacy of the 'sons' who landed in New Zealand in 1840, then we would very quickly have an heir-male to the name Maxwell. I personally believe that the family found sufficient adverse evidence to drop their claim in the 1920's and we must look further afield for the Maxwell heir-male