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Maxwell was accepted by CDSNA as an allied family in July 2012.

An armigerous (arms-bearing) Scottish clan that has its own clan society but no Chief.  Individuals with this surname should be welcomed at Douglas tents and encouraged to become Clan Douglas members. 

Clan Maxwell shares many sept names with Douglas: Blackstock, Kirkland, McKittrick.  The Douglas castle of Threave was owned by the Maxwells between 1526 and 1640.

The history of the Maxwell family contains many Douglas connections.  The clan Maxwell website gives the following.

Throughout the perilous and trying times of the Wars of Independence, the Maxwells, like many other Scottish nobles repeatedly changed sides. In 1300, their great castle of Caerlaverock was besieged by a powerful English army under Edward I, the event being recorded in great detail by a contemporary chronicler under the title of the Roll of Caerlaverock. Sir Eustace Maxwell embraced the cause of John Balliol and received an allowance from Edward II for "the more secure keeping of the Fortress.” Later he threw his hand in with the Bruce and dismantled his fortress for the Scottish defense, for which he was liberally rewarded by Robert the Bruce. This knight also signed the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 and went crusading under the good Sir James Douglas with the heart of the Bruce after his death in 1329.

As was usual with border families, the chiefs of the Maxwells were by no means consistent in their course or steady in the allegiance to the Scottish crown; however, they contrived in the end to be on the winning side, and honours, offices and estates continued to accumulate in the family. They became hereditary Wardens of the Western Marches, Stewards of Kirkcudbright and Annandale, Ambassadors to England and Provosts of Edinburgh. About 1445, Sir Herbert Maxwell of Caerlaverock was created a Lord of Parliament, and in 1455, on the forfeiture of the Douglases, he was granted Eskdale and Carlisle, the second title being somewhat dubious as Carlisle remained steadfastly in English hands.

In 1513, John the fourth Lord Maxwell and three of his brothers fell at Floddon, and he was succeeded by his eldest son Robert who grew to be one of the most prominent and ablest men of his age. He certainly stood high in the esteem of King James V, for he was created an Extraordinary Lord of the Session in 1532. In 1536, he was appointed a member of the Council of Regency, and in the following year he was one of the Ambassadors to the French Court who negotiated the marriage of James to Mary of Guise and for whom he espoused as proxy. It was this Lord Maxwell who introduced and secured the bill in the parliament of 1542 that gave the Scottish people the right to possess and read the Bible in the common tongue.

His eldest son was Robert, sixth Lord Maxwell, and it was during his time that the greatly ruinous feud between the Maxwells and their neighbors, the Johnstones, escalated. Johnstone was courted on all sides: by the English, fearful of Maxwells power on the border; by the Regent, who harbored a claim to the lands of Morton; and by the thieves and brigands of the Middle Marches whose activities were curtailed by Maxwell in his Warden role. Under such pressure, Johnstone was finally induced to break his bonds of manrent with the Lord Maxwell and the feud intensified.

Lord Maxwell's younger brother was Sir John Maxwell of Terregles, who, like his father, was a very able man and one of Scotland greatest nationalists. As a young man he had held Lochmaben Castle against the English during Henry VIII's rough wooing. Later, while holding true to the reform church, he became one of Mary Queen of Scots staunchest supporters, which subsequently cost him greatly. Following his brother's early death, he became tutor to his nephews, the infant sons of Lord Maxwell, and was then

known by the title “Master of Maxwell,” wielding the mighty forces of the family. During the reign of the Queen and the regency that followed, Sir John called them to arms many times. He married Agnes Herries, eldest daughter and heiress to Lord Herries, and through her came the vast estates of that family to the Maxwells. In 1566, Sir John became Lord Herries, and two years later Queen Mary spent her last days on Scottish soil under his protection.

Lord Maxwell, Sir John's brother, had been married to Beatrice Douglas, granddaughter of James III, daughter and co-heiress to the fourth Earl of Morton. From this alliance, the second and posthumous son, John, eighth Lord Maxwell, was able to push home his legitimate claim to the Earldom, which he secured in 1581. John Maxwell, Earl of Morton, was a less judicial man than his uncle and was often in trouble for his open defiance of the Regent and later King James VI. He was a devout catholic at a time when most of his church were very discreet in their devotions. His untimely adherence to the popish cause lead him to travel to the Low Countries and thence on to Spain where great preparations were being made for the Armada. On his return to Scotland, he roused his loyal followers around his new banner which now incorporated the double headed imperial eagle of the Holy Roman Empire, it being his belief that Spain would attack England through Scotland and so re-establish the old faith in both the kingdoms. Alas for Morton, King James did not share his views and summoned him to Edinburgh where he was imprisoned in Blackness Castle. After the fiasco of the Armada, Morton was released to return home to the feud with the Johnstones which cost him his life at the battle of Dryfe Sands.

His son, also John, was even less disposed to leading a quiet life than his father and greatly endangered the family's estates by his relentless pursuit of revenge for his fathers death. This eventually led him to murder the Johnstone chief, an act for which he was eventually executed. His younger brother Robert was restored in 1620 to the "lands, rents living, teinds, offices and dignities" that belonged to his predecessors. This last patent set forth that Maxwell should go by the title of Earl of Nithsdale. Unlike his brother, Nithsdale was a man of peace. He ended the feud between the Maxwells and Johnstones when he "choppit hands" with Johnstone on 17th of June 1623 before the Privy Council.

The Earl of Nithsdale zealously supported the Royalist cause during the Civil War, and he garrisoned his castles of Caerlaverock and Thrieve in the Kings name, holding out to besieging forces for thirteen weeks. When no relief could be sent, the Earl, with King Charles' approval, surrendered on very favourable terms. However, the nobleman was siezed in 1643, the following year, and he died in exile on the Isle of Man. His son Robert, second Earl of Nithsdale, was restored in 1647 by an Act of Parliament, but the estates of the family were so heavily burdened from losses sustained during the Civil War that he was forces to sell parts of the vast inheritance. The second Earl had no children, and the Earldom passed to his kinsman John Maxwell, Lord Herries, great grandson of the great John, Lord Herries. William, Fifth and last Earl of Nithsdale was a Jacobite supporter. He "came out" in the 1715 rebellion and was taken prisoner after the capitulation at Preston. He was taken to the Tower of London and brought to trial for High Treason in the House of Lords. After pleading guilty, he was sentenced to death by the Lord Chancellor. On the night before his execution he escaped from the Tower wearing women’s clothing, in a daring plan devised and carried out by his devoted wife. He died in the exiled Jacobean court in Rome in 1744. His only son was restored to the now heavily indebted estates but not the dignities. When he died without male heirs in 1776, the chiefdom passed via the Maxwells of Breconside to a distant cousin, the George Maxwell of Carruchan, who's line died out with his grandson William in 1863. Since then the Maxwells have remained a family without a chief.

The Maxwells once held the title of the Earldom of Morton.  Clan Maxwell at Scotsweb gives the following information about the struggles between the Douglas and Maxwell families over the control of this earldom.

After the 6th Lord Maxwell, the Maxwells were at feud with the powerful Clan Douglas over the Earldom of Morton, which the 7th Lord Maxwell regarded as his inheritance.  The 7th Lord Maxwell’s grandmother was Beatrix, daughter of James Douglas, 3rd Earl of Morton.  After the execution of the regent James Douglas, 4th Earl of Morton, in 1581 this earldom was bestowed upon Maxwell, but in 1586 the attainder of the late earl was reversed and he was deprived of his new title. He had helped in 1585 to drive the royal favorite James Stewart, Earl of Arran, from power.

Wikipedia’s article on the Earl of Morton states the inheritance issue more clearly.

The Douglases of Dalkeith are descended from Andrew Douglas of Herdmanston (d.b. 1277), younger son of Archibald I, Lord of Douglas (fl. c. 1198-1238). He was succeeded by his son William Douglas of Herdmanston, a signatory of the Ragman Roll in 1296. William of Herdmanston's son, James Douglas of Lothian succeeded his father and produced two sons, Sir William Douglas and Sir John Douglas. Sir William Douglas, known as the Knight of Liddesdale or the Flower of Chivalry obtained the privileges of the barony of Dalkeith in 1341. Following his murder at the hands of his godson William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas, the barony of Dalkeith passed to his nephew, James Douglas, 1st Lord Dalkeith. James Douglas was confirmed in this position when his title was ratified by the Earl of Douglas prior to 1370.

The 4th Lord Dalkeith succeeded to his estates upon the resignation of his father c. 1457 and in 1458 was raised to the peerage as Earl of Morton. Lord Dalkeith was then a title held by the Earls of Morton as subsidiary until the 7th earl, who sold it with its estates to the Buccleuch family. It was the courtesy title for the eldest son and heir until then. While the earldom was attainted between 1581 and 1586, the nephew-in-law of the 4th earl (also grandson of the 3rd earl), John Maxwell, 7th Lord Maxwell called himself "5th Earl of Morton". Lord Maxwell's title of Morton, which had been revoked in 1585, was revived in 1587 and 1592, so that both men, Lord Maxwell and the 6th Earl of Morton, were in possession, and a conflict arose; and though - at the time of the 7th Earl of Morton - John, 8th Lord Maxwell (c. 1586-1613), also claimed the earldom, he was attainted in 1609 and his rights then failed, his titles and estates being restored in 1618 to his brother Robert, with the title of Earl of Nithsdale (1620) in lieu of Morton.


Maxwell members can learn more about the Maxwell surname and clan from the Clan Maxwell Society of the USA website.




Clan Maxwell @ Scotweb.  http://www.scotweb.co.uk/info/maxwell/

Clan Maxwell Society of the USA Website. http://clanmaxwellusa.com/brief.htm

Wikipedia: Earl of Morton. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_of_Morton