The Maxwells of Dumfriesshire
The rich and beautiful vale of the Nith, in Dumfriesshire, through
which the river Nith flows, was historically associated with the Maxwells.
From a very early period they owned the castle of Caerlaverock, which
was the key to the whole of that district. The family also, through
its heads and branches, had long possessed large territories on both
banks of the Nith, from its mouth where it falls into the Solway Firth,
to nearly the source of that river in the parish of Dalmellington,
- Book of Carlaverock.
Hon Bernard Constable
Farlie House, Beauly, Inverness-shire:
The House of the Hon. Bernard
and the Hon. Mrs. Constable Maxwell
Published in THE SCOTTISH FIELD - March,
The founder of the Maxwell family is said to be a certain
Maccus, the son of Undwin, a Saxon noble, who at the time of the Norman
Conquest took refuge in Scotland. He was a distinguished person in
the reigns of Alexander 1st and David 1st and received from the latter
a grant of fertile lands on the banks of the Tweed, near Kelso, to
which was given the appellation of Maccuswell, and later shortened
into Maxwell, which became the designation of his descendants.
Caerlaverock Throughout the
Wars of Independence the Maxwells, in company with other Scottish
nobles of the Saxon and Anglo-Norman race, repeatedly changed sides.
In the year 1300 one, Sir Herbert Maxwell, held the castle of Caerlaverock
for the patriotic cause, and was besieged by a strong English army
under King Edward. 1, who had eighty seven of the most illustrious
barons of England in his host, including knights of Bretagne and Lorraine.
But the castle did not fear a siege. Its shape was like that of a
shield, in that it had only three sides all round, with a tower in
each angle, one of which was a double one, so high, so long and massive,
that under it was the gate, with a drawbridge and a sufficiency of
other defences. It had good walls and ditches filled to the edge with
water, and for scenic beauty the castle and its surroundings stood
probably alone, for at once could be seen the Irish Sea towards the
west and to the north a fine country surrounded by an arm of the sea,
so that no creature born could approach it on two sides without putting
themselves in danger of the sea. Towards the south it was not easy,
because there were numerous dangerous defiles of wood and marshes
and ditches, where the sea is on cub side of it and where the river
reaches it; and therefore it was necessary for the host to approach
towards the cast, where the hill slopes.
The Maxwells, under their gallant chief, made a vigorous defence,
showering upon their assailants such heavy missiles that they retired
time end again; but in the end the garrison were compelled to surrender,
when it was found that there were only sixty men all told, and that
they had defied the whole English army for a considerable period.
Sir Eustace Maxwell Possession of the castle
was subsequently restored to Sir Eustace Maxwell, Sir Herbert's son,
who at first embraced the cause of John Baliol, and in 1312 received
from Edward Il an allowance of £20 for the more secure keeping
of the castle. He afterwards gave in his adherence to Robert Bruce,
and his castle, in consequence, underwent a second siege by the English,
in which they were unsuccessful. But fearing that this important stronghold
might ultimately fall into the hands of the enemy, and enable them
to make good their hold on the district, Sir Eustace dismantled the
fortress, a service and sacrifice for which he was liberally rewarded
by Robert Bruce.
Wardens, Stewards, Ambassadors.
In the end the Maxwells contrived to be on the winning side, and honours,
offices, and estates continued to accumulate in the family. They were
Wardens of the West Marches, Stewards of Kirkcudbright, Stewards of
Annandale, Ambassadors to England, and Provosts of Edinburgh. They
were created Lords of Parliament, with the titles of Baron Maxwell,
Baron Harries, Baron Eskdale, and Baron Carlyle, and Earl of Morton
and Earl of Nithsdale. They intermarried with the Stewarts, Douglases,
Setons, Crichtons, Hamiltons, Herrieses, and other powerful families
and spread out their branches on all sides. If the Maxwells had succeeded,
like the heads of the great houses of Hamilton, Douglas, and Scott,
in retaining possession of the estates which belonged to them in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they would have been among the
three or four most extensive landowners in Scotland at the present
The Lord Herries of the time commanded Queen Mary’s horse at
the battle of Langside, and after the defeat conducted her to his
own house at Terregles, and he earnestly entreated her not to throw
herself on the protection of Queen Elizabeth, of whom he was very
suspicious. His advice was not taken, but that he had summed up matters
correctly after events showed. The present Duchess of Norfolk, Gwendolen
Constable Maxwell, is a niece of the Hon. Mr. Constable Maxwell.
Lord Herries. In
the year 1848 an act of Parliament was passed in favour of William
Constable, Esq., and all the other descendants of William, fifth Earl
of Nithsdale, reversing the forfeiture of that nobleman; and in virtue
of that Act, Mr. Constable Maxwell claimed the dignity of Lord Herries
as having been originally conferred on heirs general, and ten years
later the Committee of Privileges of the House of Lords granted the
claim, and in virtue of that decision he became tenth Lord Herries
of Terregles, and died in 1876 leaving a family of seven sons and
nine daughters, of which the Hon. Bernard Constable Maxwell is the
Hon. Alice Fraser. He married
in 1890 the Hon. Alice Fraser, second daughter of the fifteenth Lord
Lovat and sister of the present peer. The marriage has been a very
happy one, and their family of six sons and six daughters comprise
one of the finest families ever reared in a Highland mansion. Every
one of them is imbued with the high ideals of their parents, who have
every reason to be very proud of them.
The eldest son, Ian Simon Joseph, served in the Cameron Highlanders
as a captain, and along with Captain Lord Hamish Murray, was in the
bodyguard of the late Field-Marshal Haig. He was wounded at the Aisne.
He is at present at Pekin and is a B.A. of Oxford. The second son,
Ronald, served with distinction as a captain in the Egyptian army,
was in the Naval Flying Corps, and mentioned in despatches. Gerald,
M.C., D.F.C., A.F.C., served as a captain in the Ist Lovat Scouts
and the Royal Air Force, was at the Dardenelles, and brought down
no less than thirty-five German aeroplanes.
The oldest daughter, Mary Philomena, is the wife of Major Arthur Baxton,
D.S.O., who is now on the secretariat of the League of Nations at
Geneva. A younger daughter, Oona, married Captain Ronald Foster, who
also he, Scottish blood in his veins, as his mother was a. Weyms of
Weyms. Her family curiously enough twice intermarried with the Frasers
of Lovat in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The unmarried sons and daughters are popular in and
around Beauly. Misses Joan and Betty are very fond of sport, and of
them are expert salmon anglers, and hold their own with their brothers
in coverts, on the rifle ranges, and in many out-door sports.
The Hon. Bernard Constable Maxwell is very fond of the Highlands,
and resides there at his mansion of Farlie, near Beauly, all the year
round, and no better sportsman ever played a salmon, brought down
a stag or shot a high pheasant. He has had many good days and performed
great feats with gun and rifle, but he speaks of these with the becoming
modesty that sits so well on his handsome countenance and his figure,
that is still lithe and active, despite the roll of years. His knowledge
is wide, his conversation elevating, he adorns his position as the
scion of a noble house, and sheds lustre over everything that goes
to characterise the perfect Highland gentleman.
The Hon. Mrs. Maxwell, who presides with becoming dignity in Farlie
House, has won her way into the hearts and the affections of the people
of the Highlands to an extent vouchsafed to few people in our day
and generation. And it is not so much because she is a member of the
House of Lovat and sister to the present popular head of the Clan
Fraser, although that counts also, rather is it because of her own
personality and the fact that her birth and lineage are only helpful
instruments in her personal desire to use these for the benefit of
the community. In and around Beauly, and in fact all over the north
of Scotland, the Hon. Mrs. Maxwell is held in very high esteem. Her
home ties are many and varied, and while of necessity they must occupy
much of her time, she nevertheless continues to give help to every
cause having for its object the social advancement of the community.
Her presence is in great demand wherever a lead is required in matters
that count, and whenever possible she never fails.
It is the part they play and the interest they manifest
in every family, and in every institution in and around Beauly, that
has forged a chain that will linger long and keep green the memory
of the Hon. Mr. and Mrs. Constable Maxwell and family with everybody
who tries to place things in their true perspective in the bundle
- Alex Ross, The Scottish Field, March 1929
Wing Comd. Michael Constable
‘It was in the mid 1860s that my grandmother and her mother
Mrs Weld Blundell were asked to
join Lord and Lady Lovat’s party for the Northern
Meeting. Unfortunately, when the gentlemen went stalking after the
Balls, up at Braulen, Strathfarrar, the Master of Lovat
found that he had sprained his ankle and could not go with them. Instead
of stalking, he and Alice Weld Blundell attended Mass at Eskadale
and then walked back four miles through rough wooded country, and
by the time they got home they were engaged. And my grandfather’s
sprained ankle was better too!"
'Northern Meeting' internet article
Gerald Constable Maxwell
Sandy-haired Gerald Constable Maxwell's paternal grandfather
was William Maxwell, 10th Baron Herries; his maternal grandfather
was Simon Fraser, 14th Baron Lovat. He was not the first of the English
families of the Maxwells and the Frasers to distinguish himself in
war (he shot down 30 German planes, for which he was amply decorated),
but certainly no Maxwell or Fraser before him had so distinguished
himself in business. After the War, Mr. Maxwell acquired the Chrysler
agency in London, sold so many Chryslers that he was able to sell
the agency for a considerable sum. Having had no difficulty selling
Englishmen U. S. automobiles, he proceeded to sell them U. S. stocks,
became a partner in G.M.-P. Murphy's New York Stock Exchange firm
and took charge of G.M.-P. Murphy's London branch. He has now resigned
from Murphy's, joined the London firm of Williamson, Fawcett &
- 'Time' Magazine archive 1938
Gwendolen Constable Maxwell
In 1904, the 15th Duke of Norfolk bought a tiara in the form of oak
leaves and acorns for his bride Gwendolen Constable Maxwell, from
Garrard. In the language of stones, diamonds symbolise "forever".
In the language of flowers, oak leaves denote the invincibility and
strength of love, and acorns fecundity.This tiara was exhibited at
the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, 2004. Source 'The
The 17th Duke of Norfolk
Miles, 17th Duke of Norfolk died in 2004 at his home in UK.
On the death of his cousin Bernard, 16th Duke, in 1975, son of Gwendoline
Constable Maxwell, Miles Francis Stapleton Fitzalan-Howard succeeded
to England's oldest dukedom, created in 1483 by King Richard III for
John Howard, his loyal supporter in the Wars of the Roses. The dukes
of Norfolk are referred to as the premier dukes -the highest rank
of peers -because their title is the oldest. Like his predecessors,
the 17th duke was earl marshal of England, one of the Great Officers
of State, senior members of the royal household. The earl marshal,
whose position now is largely ceremonial, is responsible for state
ceremonies such as coronations.
The 17th duke served in the army for 30 years and retired as a major
general, having taken several appointments in the Ministry of Defense,
including director of service intelligence in 1966-1967. During World
War II, he served in France, North Africa, Sicily and Italy and was
awarded the Military Cross for reconnaissance of mined roads on foot
under enemy fire. He remarked in later years that "anyone can
be Duke of Norfolk, but I'm rather proud of that medal," The
Times said in its obituary.
Source 'Eastman's Online Genealogy'
David Constable Maxwell
- letter to the Queen
To the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
- 12th May 1958.
Madam. As your High Sheriff of Leicestershire, may I humbly
convey to your Majesty the honour and encouragement you have given
to this County; firstly to our University, secondly to our Industry,
and thirdly to the children of our countryside on your visit here
History repeats itself. About 400 years ago, in1573,
my ancestor Sir Marmaduke Constable of Everingham Park was High Sheriff
for Yorkshire. He entertained Queen Elizabeth at Everingham.
This place is still in the family and was my father's
old home. It has now been inherited by the Duke of Norfolk, through
his mother who was a Maxwell - the daughter and heir to my uncle the
late Lord Herries of Everingham Park.
It may perhaps also be of interest to your majesty that
400 years previous to that (according to the "Book of Carlaverock")
Herbert Maxwell (1130 - 1200) was Sheriff of Taviotdale, and it is
probable that his father, called Maccus (1100 - 1150) was Sheriff
of Roxburghshire before him, to King David 1st of Scotland.
I remain, Madam, Your Majesty's humble servant,