Show ContentsMaxwell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Maxwell surname is a habitation name derived from a place named Maxwell near Melrose in country Roxburgh. The place name derives from the Old English personal name "Maccus," and the Old English word "weil" Old English for a stream or spring. Alternatively, the name comes from when the family lived in or near Maxwell, a salmon pool located on the Tweed River near Kelso Bridge. 1

Early Origins of the Maxwell family

The surname Maxwell was first found in Roxburghshire. The earliest record of the name Maxwell was of a Herbert de Maccusweil, who moved to Scotland from England, where he came to hold the land at Max's weil or Maccusweil, and flourished under the kings Malcolm IV and William I in the second half of the 12th century. It is thought that Herbert was of Norman stock; even though the name itself had older roots. Of his sons, John de Maccuswell was recorded as Great Chamberlain of Scotland, and as Sheriff of Teviotdale. He came to have the barony of Cærlaverock in Dumfries, and is on record as a resident of that country in 1221.

Another son Aymer de Maxwell was the first use the modern spelling of his surname; he migrated to the Scottish county of Peebles, where he was recorded as Eymer de Mackisuuell in 1262. Aymer married Mary, daughter of Sir Roland de Mearns, heiress of the barony of Renfrew from which would come the lines of Maxwell of Pollock and Maxwell of Calderwood. Branches were also established in Roxburgh and Berwick. 2

"Maxwell: A Maccus was one of the gallant three who defended the bridge at Maldon in 991. Maccus was the name of one of David I.'s foreign favourites - probably Anglo-Norman - and he was given large possessions. He called his chief place of residence Maccusville. 3

Other records show "Herbert de Macuswell or Maxwell, the ancestor of the house, had a son, Sir John de Macuswell, who was sheriff of Roxburghshire in 1203 and 1207. " 4

Over the southern border in England, early Yorkshire records show Herbert de Makeswell in the Pipe Rolls of 1190. 1

Robert Maxwell, 5th Lord Maxwell (d. 1546), "was descended from a family which, probably originally from England, settled in Scotland at Maccuswell or Maxwell, on the Tweed, near Kelso, in or before the reign of David I. Ewen Maccuswel of Caerlaverock, Dumfriesshire, assisted Malcolm Canmore at the siege of Alnwick in 1093, and it is with Dumfriesshire and Galloway that the subsequent history of the Maxwells is chiefly associated. Sir Herbert Maxwell won special renown for his defence of the castle of Caerlaverock against the army of Edward I in 1300, and in the subsequent wars its possession was frequently in dispute. The lordship of Maxwell dates from about 1428. The fifth lord was the eldest son of John, fourth lord, killed at Flodden, 9 Sept. 1513, his mother being Agnes, daughter of Sir Alexander Stewart of Garlies, ancestor of the Earls of Galloway." 5

Early History of the Maxwell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Maxwell research. Another 175 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1320, 1454, 1512, 1552, 1581, 1583, 1586, 1593, 1620, 1646, 1676, 1708, 1715, 1716, 1720, 1744, 1762, 1775, 1787, 1797, 1800, 1831 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Maxwell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Maxwell Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Maxwaile, Makiswell, Makiswel, Makeswell, Maxwell, Maxwel, Maxswel, Maxville, Maxvile, Maxuel, Makeswel, Maxweel, Maxwale, Maxswell, Maxwal, Maxwaul, Maxwaale, Maxwul, Maxwail and many more.

Early Notables of the Maxwell family

Notables of the family at this time include

  • Herbert Maxwell (d. circa 1454), 1st Lord Maxwell; John Maxwell (1552-1593), 7th Lord Maxwell, who was briefly Earl of Morton; and Robert Maxwell (1586-1646), 9th Lord Maxwell, created Earl of Nithsda...
  • Sir John Maxwell of Terregles, Master of Maxwell, and afterwards fourth Lord Herries (1512?-1583), partisan of Mary Queen of Scots, second son of Robert, fifth Lord Maxwell [q. v.], by Janet Douglas...
  • James Maxwell (1581-?) The Scottish author was the only son of William Maxwell of Little Airds, and grandson of William Maxwell of Kirkconnell, Kirkcudbrightshire, man-at-arms to James V of Scotland...
  • The Jacobite James Maxwell (1708?-1762), of Kirkconnel, Jacobite, born about 1708, was eldest son of William Maxwell of Kirkconnel, Kirkcudbrightshire, by Janet, daughter of George Maxwell of Carnsall...
  • James Maxwell (1720-1800), 'Poet in Paisley,' was born at Auchenback, parish of Mearns, Renfrewshire, on 9 May 1720. At the age of twenty he went to England as a packman, became a weaver, and was at v...

Maxwell World Ranking

In the United States, the name Maxwell is the 404th most popular surname with an estimated 69,636 people with that name. 6 However, in Canada, the name Maxwell is ranked the 667th most popular surname with an estimated 7,839 people with that name. 7 And in Australia, the name Maxwell is the 364th popular surname with an estimated 9,947 people with that name. 8 New Zealand ranks Maxwell as 205th with 2,716 people. 9 The United Kingdom ranks Maxwell as 497th with 12,968 people. 10

Ireland Migration of the Maxwell family to Ireland

Some of the Maxwell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 80 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Maxwell migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Maxwell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Alexander Maxwell, who settled in Boston in 1650
  • Daniel Maxwell, who settled in Boston in 1652
  • James Maxwell, who settled in Maryland in 1658
  • Mary Maxwell, who arrived in Maryland in 1659 11
  • Jane Maxwell, who landed in Virginia in 1664 11
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Maxwell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Elizabeth Maxwell, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1718
  • Hugh Maxwell, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1733
  • Alexander Maxwell, who landed in Virginia in 1740 11
  • John Maxwell, who landed in Augusta County, Va in 1740 11
  • Adam Maxwell, a Jacobite prisoner sent to America in 1747
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Maxwell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Maxwell, aged 20, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1804 11
  • Margaret Maxwell, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815 11
  • Isabella Maxwell, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1816 11
  • Eleanor Maxwell, aged 28, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1820-1873 11
  • Eliza Graham Maxwell, who landed in New York in 1830 11
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Maxwell migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Maxwell Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Andrew Maxwell, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • Mr. James Maxwell U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 12
  • Mr. James Maxwell U.E. born in Ireland who settled in St. Stephen, Charlotte County, New Brunswick c. 1784 served in the Flying Artillery 12
Maxwell Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Margaret Maxwell, aged 24, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Sarah Maxwell, aged 32, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Rebecca Maxwell, aged 22, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Protector" in 1834
  • Alexander Maxwell, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Protector" in 1834
  • William Maxwell, aged 23, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Condor" in 1838
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Maxwell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Maxwell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Maxwell, Irish convict who was convicted in Westmeath, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia 13
  • John Maxwell, English convict from Huntingdon, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia 14
  • Mr. William Maxwell, Scottish convict who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 14 years, transported aboard the "Eliza" on 22nd September 1819, arriving in New South Wales, Australia 15
  • Mr. Edward Maxwell, (b. 1787), aged 33, Irish servant who was convicted in Roscommon, Ireland for 7 years for house robbery, transported aboard the "Dorothy" on 5th May 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia 16
  • John Maxwell, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Navarino" in 1837 17
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Maxwell migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Maxwell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • T Maxwell, who landed in Waiheke, New Zealand in 1837
  • C Maxwell, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Aurora
  • James Maxwell, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • James Maxwell, aged 20, a shepherd, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Aurora" in 1840
  • Mary Maxwell, aged 20, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Aurora" in 1840
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Maxwell migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. 18
Maxwell Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Miss Marie Maxwell, aged 21 who arrived in St. Kitts (St Christopher) aboard the ship "Amity" in 1635 11

Contemporary Notables of the name Maxwell (post 1700) +

  • Billy Joe Maxwell (1929-2021), American professional PGA golfer who had 10 professional wins
  • Jan Maxwell (1956-2018), American five-time Tony award nominated, two-time Drama Desk Award winning stage and television actress, known for her roles in
  • Hamish Maxwell (1927-2014), American consumer products executive, CEO and Chairman of Philip Morris (1984-1991)
  • David Farrow Maxwell (1900-1985), eightieth president of the American Bar Association
  • Technician Fifth Grade Robert D Maxwell, American soldier awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • Chester K. Maxwell, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, credited with 5 aerial victories
  • William R. Maxwell, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Navy, during World War II, credited with 8 aerial victories
  • Cassandra Maxwell, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from South Carolina, 1948 19
  • Campbell L. Maxwell, American politician, U.S. Consul in Santo Domingo, 1892-98; U.S. Consul General in Santo Domingo, 1898-1904 19
  • Burl Maxwell, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Colorado, 1952 19
  • ... (Another 95 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Air New Zealand Flight 901
  • Mr. Bruce Rhodes Maxwell (1959-1979), New Zealander Flight Steward, from Auckland, New Zealand working aboard the Air New Zealand sightseeing Flight 901 when it flew into Mount Erebus; he died in the crash 20
HMAS Sydney II
  • Mr. Ian Maxwell Maxwell (1914-1941), Australian Ordinary Signalman from Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking 21
Ibrox disaster
  • Robert Maxwell (1956-1971), Scottish football supporter, from Lanarkshire who was at the Ibrox disaster on 2nd January 1971 when a human crush among the crowd killed 66 and injured 200 people he died of his injuries 22
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. John Maxwell (d. 1912), aged 31, English Carpenter/Joiner from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking 23
SS Atlantic
  • Mr. James Maxwell, who was traveling aboard the ship "SS Atlantic" when it struck rocks off Nova Scotia in 1873, died in the sinking
USS Indianapolis
  • Farrell Jacob Maxwell (1918-1992), American crew member on board the ship "USS Indianapolis" when she was on a top secret trip for the first nuclear weapon, she was sunk by Japanese Navy on 30th July 1945, he survived the sinking 24


The Maxwell Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Reviresco
Motto Translation: I flourish again.


Suggested Readings for the name Maxwell +

  • Ancestors by William Maxwell.
  • Brandenburg-Maxwell, Brazelton-Lamb, Mitchell-Drake, Sanders-Killen by Sarah G. Sitz.

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  4. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?". NameCensus.com, https://namecensus.com/last-names/
  7. "Surnames Meanings, Origins & Distribution Maps - Forebears." Forebears, https://forebears.io/surnames
  8. "Most Common Last Names in Australia." Forebears, https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  9. "Most Common Last Names in New Zealand." Forebears, https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  10. "UK surname ranking." UK Surname map, https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  11. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  12. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  13. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  14. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Ann voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1809 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/ann/1809
  15. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 10th February 2022). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/eliza
  16. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th July 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/dorothy
  17. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) NAVARINO 1837. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1837Navarino.htm
  18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  19. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  20. Mount Erebus, Memorial, Roll of Remembrance (Retrieved 2018, February 21st). Retrieved from http://www.erebus.co.nz/memorialandawards/rollofremembrance.aspx
  21. HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  22. Bradford City Football Club In memory (retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from https://www.bradfordcityafc.com/club/in-memoriam/
  23. Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  24. Final Crew List, retrieved 2021, October 30th Retrieved from https://www.ussindianapolis.com/final-crew


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