Maxwells

The lands of Barncleuch (or Barncleugh) in Irongray parish, Kirkcudbrightshire, originally part of the Barony of Terregles, were sold in 1635 by John Lord Herries to George Rome, who shortly after, in 1638, sold them in wadset to John Maxwell and his wife Agnes Irving. Their son, John Maxwell, inherited the estate in 1665, and in 1686 he was made Provost of Dumfries. He was succeeded in Barncleuch in 1721 by his son James, who married first Janet Carruthers; and secondly Mary Wellwood, daughter of a London physician. Barbara, James’s daughter by his second marriage, married a James Johnstone (said to be a cadet of the Johnstone family of Westerhall). James, however, was succeeded in Barncleuch in 1748 by a son, also called James, of his first marriage.

This second James died unmarried in June 1778; and was succeeded by his sister Barbara’s eldest son, Wellwood Johnstone (born on 29 October 1747). Wellwood had trained in medicine, and in February 1770 sailed for India on board the ship Lord Mansfield to practise as a surgeon in Calcutta in the service of the East India Company.

Wellwood was back in Scotland certainly soon after his uncle’s death; and on 24 August

1778, at Drumlanrig Castle, he married Catherine Maxwell, fourth daughter of John Maxwell of

Terraughty and Munches. In terms of his uncle’s Deed of Settlement and Disposition of his estate,

Wellwood himself assumed the surname of Maxwell, and thus became Wellwood Maxwell of

Barncleuch. In 1777 the estate of Barncleuch was valued for land tax in the sum of £383; it

consisted of the farms of Meikle Barncleuch, Riddings, and part of Little Barncleuch,

In the course of the next eighteen years, Wellwood and Catherine had twelve children in total:

James (born 26 May 1780; died 7 April 1782);

Agnes (born 17 October 1781; died 19 August 1858. Married Dr. Alexander Melville);

Wellwood (born 30 December 1782 with a stillborn male twin; died 19 January 1783);

John Herries (born 3 January 1784; died 1843. Married Clementina Maxwell);

Wellwood (born 15 July 1785; died 27 January 1867. Merchant in Liverpool);

Alexander (born 17 January 1787; died 9 March 1867. Merchant in Liverpool);

Mary (born 13 January 1789; died 1865?. Married Maxwell Hyslop);

Margaret (born 13 January 1790; died 28 June 1798);

William (born 26 August 1791; died ?. Merchant in Liverpool);

James (born 26 December 1794; died 24 November 1808);

Catherine (born 2 September 1796; died 2 February 1858);

George (born 2 September 1796; died 2 February 1858. Merchant in Liverpool).

For the rest of the 18th century, information about Wellwood Maxwell is fragmentary. On 24 October 1786 he was admitted as freeman of the burgh of Dumfries; in 1793 he was Convener of the Road Trustees for the 8th district of Kirkcudbrightshire; on 6 March 1795 he was commissioned as 1st Lieutenant in the Dumfriesshire Corps of Volunteers (of which Robert Burns was also a member). In 1796 he was appointed Collector of Land Tax for the county of Dumfries, and remained in the post until 1818 (from 1814 in tandem with his son John Herries Maxwell). He had a town house in Irish Street, Dumfries; and there was also a small house at The Grove (a division of the Riddings farm) which already from 1781 he was using as his country residence.

Wellwood’s eldest surviving son, John Herries Maxwell, was trained in the law as an apprentice to Hugh Corrie, WS, entering on his indentures in April 1804; and himself was admitted as a Writer to the Signet in November 1807. Hugh Corrie had family connections with the Liverpool firm of Conic and Company, grain merchants. Perhaps this was an element in the decision by Wellwood’s second son - also called Wellwood - to go to Liverpool in the early years of the 19th century to join a merchant house. The firm that he chose to join was Maury, Latham, headed by James Maury, who had been appointed by George Washington in 1790 as America’s first consul in Liverpool. Shortly afterwards, Wellwood II was joined in the same firm by his brother Alexander; but before long the two brothers formed a partnership of their own, as W. & A. Maxwell; and in 1820 they were joined by their youngest brother George, when the firm became W. A. & G. Maxwell. Wellwood senior advanced £1000 to each of his sons as loans when they started in business.

In 1813 John Herries Maxwell married his cousin Clementina Maxwell, daughter of William Maxwell; and in 1815, on the death without issue of her uncle Alexander Herries Maxwell, she inherited the estates of Munches, Terraughty and Dinwoodie. John now being well provided for by his marriage to an heiress, his father Wellwood, now in his early seventies, began to consider the disposition of his estate.

The disposition under which he had inherited Barucleuch provided that on his death the estate should pass “without division” to his eldest surviving son, or, failing that, his eldest surviving daughter. However, he did not wish Barncleuch to be united with the estates of Munches, Terraughty and Dinwoodie. It was suggested to him that one of his younger sons might purchase the whole estate, and in June 1818 he sought the opinion of counsel (in the person of Matthew Ross, advocate in Edinburgh) as to whether this was legally possible. Ross found that while he could not alter the provisions of the disposition “by a gratuitous deed”, he could make a bona fide sale, for a fair and true price, to a younger son.

The plan decided on by March 1819 was that only part of the estate should be sold to the second son, Wellwood - most probably a “fair and true price” for the whole estate was beyond his means. The portion to be sold comprised the Riddings farm (including that part of it already known as The Grove) and a part of Meikie Barncleuch, a total of just over 345 acres; and the price was to be £8,000, with £6,000 being payable following the death of the seller, who meantime reserved his liferent on the new estate. In fact, Wellwood junior paid £2,500 to his father in 1832, and the remaining £3,500 in 1834 to his brother John Herries Maxwell, who inherited the remainder of the Barncleuch estate.

Agreement having been reached, Wellwood II was given sasine on The Grove estate on 23 October 1819. Wellwood senior in fact lived to the ripe old age of 85, dying on 1l June 1833 - his wife Catherine had predeceased him on 26 November 1832. Their tombstone in St. Michael’s churchyard in Dumfries has the following inscription:

Pious without ostentation, religious without intolerance, he sought to do his duty to God without offending man. A good and kind father, he deserved the respect and secured the affection of his numerous family. In friendship constant and sincere, in social intercourse affable, hospitable, humane. He passed thro’ life in cordial union during 55 years with Catherine Maxwell...who...lies interred beside him. A lady of vigorous and active mind, obliging, courteous, charitable; supporting her husband throughout in every religious, parental and social duty; and like him leaving this life esteemed, beloved, regretted.

In 1825 Wellwood II commissioned the architect Thomas Rickman (whose career had begun in Liverpool, though he later moved to Birmingham) to design a new house at The Grove. The result was a U-plan Tudor-style mansion built in red sandstone ashlar with an imposing seven-bay frontage, incorporating as its NW wing the original 18th-century house. In 1869, following Wellwood’s death, the Edinburgh firm of Peddie & Kinnear were the architects for an extension which filled in the open court of the U-plan house, and altered the 18th-century wing to provide a new service range.

Meanwhile, the Maxwell firm in Liverpool had prospered. Also, in 1824, Wellwood II was appointed a member of the committee to form a company to construct a Liverpool and Manchester railway. The line, eventually opened to traffic on 15 September 1830 as the first passenger railway, was immensely successful and profitable; and over the next decades both Wellwood and his brother Alexander invested most of their capital in that and other railways both in Britain and overseas. When Alexander died in March 1867 his holdings of railway stocks alone were valued at £60,000 (roughly £3.5 million today); and when Wellwood died just over three months later his railway stocks were worth £72,000 (£4 million).

Wellwood and Alexander’s sister Mary had in 1810, in Dumfries, married her cousin Maxwell Hyslop, merchant in Jamaica. Of their seven children, some at least seem to have been lodged with their grandparents in Dumfries. In a letter written in May 1819 by Wellwood senior to Wellwood junior in Liverpool, he says: “I am glad that you have heard of Mary’s being well – her little ones here are all finely...”. Amongst these little ones may have been Maxwell Hyslop junior, born in London in 1818. In due course, this Maxwell went to school at Hutton Hall Academy at Bankend near Dumfries, and then to a school in England. At the age of fifteen, on 22 April 1833, he joined his uncles’ firm in Liverpool, later becoming a partner and director.

Alexander Maxwell spent much of his working life in Canada and the United States, promoting the firm’s interests in these countries; but in 1845, preparing for retirement, he made himself a Dumfriesshire landowner by purchasing for £13,500 the Glengaber estate in the parish of Holywood from Thomas Martin, another Liverpool merchant, who had inherited it from his brother James Martin of Glengaber, a merchant in Glasgow. Wellwood, who had remained in Liverpool, had taken an active part in its public affairs, particularly as a member of Liverpool Corporation. The brothers had also had some involvement with public affairs in Dumfries. Early in their business careers, they had been kindly treated by William Ewart, son of a minister of Troqueer, and now a wealthy commission agent in Liverpool. In 1841 his son, also William Ewart, a rising radical Liberal M.P., was introduced through the influence of the Maxwells as a candidate for the Dumfries Burghs parliamentary seat, and having won the seat occupied it until his death in 1869.

Now, having made their fortunes and established themselves as landed proprietors, both Wellwood and Alexander retired in 1846 from direct involvement in the Liverpool firm, though it is clear they retained an interest; and for the rest of their lives, over twenty years, they lived together at The Grove, ‘discharging their duties as country gentlemen, and their other social obligations in a way that made them universally honoured and esteemed,” (as the Dumfries Standard put it in its obituary of Wellwood). “It was a beautiful sight to see them clinging to each other with true fraternal affection in life’s declining’ day, just as they had planned and wrought side by side in its summer prime; and when death separated them it was only for a short season.” Alexander died on 9 March 1867, and Wellwood just over three months later on 27 June; and they were buried in St. Michael’s churchyard, Dumfries. Their wills bequeathed generous legacies not only to a large number of relatives and friends, but also to house and farm servants at The Grove and Glengaber. On their retirement, the direct management of the Liverpool firm had devolved on their brother George and their nephew Maxwell Hyslop. George had himself become a landed proprietor in 1827 when he purchased Glenlee estate, in the parish of Kells, Kirkcudbrightshire; and in 1828 he married Margaret Clark, daughter of Samuel Clark, a Dumfries solicitor who had been a friend of Robert Burns. George Maxwell died in 1858, and Maxwell Hyslop then took charge of the firm, still keeping his uncles at The Grove well informed of progress both by correspondence and by frequent visits.

On 23 February 1860, Maxwell Hyslop had married Phoebe Lyon at Bellfield House, Cupar, Fife, in a Church of England service. Phoebe, born in 1834, was the second daughter of Capt. George Lyon, of a cadet branch of the Lyons of Glamis, and Phoebe de Courcy Johnston, daughter of Vice-Admiral Charles Johnston of Cowhill, Dumfriesshire. Under the marriage contract Maxwell settled £10,000 in trust in favour of his wife. Capt. Lyon’s settlement on his daughter provided no ready money, but £1,000 payable on his death, and a further £1,000 payable on his wife’s death. In 1867 Maxwell Hyslop inherited both The Grove and Glengaber estates under deeds of settlement executed by his uncles. The Grove was entailed on his eldest son (also Maxwell Hyslop); and Glengaber was entailed on his second son Alexander Hyslop, and a condition of the inheritance was that he should take the surname of Maxwell. Accordingly in 1867 he became Maxwell Hyslop Maxwell of The Grove and Glengaber. In 1888 he added to the Grove estate by purchasing the 19 acres of Cogershaw Wood, part of the adjacent farm of Ingleston, from Richard Alexander Oswald; and there constructed a gas production plant and a small gasometer to supply The Grove house.

Maxwell Hyslop Maxwell and Phoebe Lyon had nine children who survived infancy (there may have been two stillbirths and two infant deaths):

Maxwell Hyslop Maxwell (1862-1937)

Alexander Hyslop Maxwell (1864-1957)

Charles Hyslop Maxwell (1865-1931)

William Hyslop Maxwell (1867-1886)

Wellwood Hyslop Maxwell (1868-1952)

Phoebe Hyslop Maxwell (1870-1974)

Mary Hyslop Maxwell (1871-1962)

Lyon Hyslop Maxwell (1873-1956)

Walter Hyslop Maxwell (1874-? ).

Prior to his marriage, Maxwell Hyslop had lived at 78 Canning Street, Liverpool, probably with his sisters Catherine, Agnes and Jean. The sisters were found alternative accommodation; but Maxwell and Phoebe and their growing family continued to live there until at least 1881, when the census listed them there, together with a governess, seven female servants, a butler and a footman. By 1891 they had moved to The Hamlet, a mansion in Belvidere Road, Princes Park, where they now had eight female servants, a butler, a footman and a groom.

It was in Liverpool that the family’s large fortune was generated; but in the later years of the 19th century it was at The Grove and in the surrounding countryside of Dumfries and Galloway that they found their playground. Twice a year, in an operation that involved complicated logistics (Often supervised by Lyon Hyslop Maxwell, the sixth son, who had become a civil engineer), the family moved from Liverpool to The Grove and back. The Grove and Glengaber estates, and the Barncleuch estate (still owned by Maxwell relatives) gave ample scope for sporting shoots; and the fishing rights on the Cluden Water were leased from the Oswald family who owned farms adjoining The Grove. There were expeditions to climb Criffel, or to explore landmarks such as Crichope Linn or Loch Ettrick; picnics at Lincluden Abbey or Lochmaben Castle; children’s parties at The Grove; tennis parties at Ernespie and Slogarie; entertainments provided for the villagers of Shawhead. But there was also involvement in local charitable schemes, where Mary Hyslop Maxwell (known as “Polly”) was particularly concerned. Polly’s main interest was in child poverty, and she was often to be seen on expeditions in pony-and-trap, collecting contributions for the poor, or delivering soup to needy families. In the 1890’s she found a new interest in photography, and the majority of the photographs on this website are hers. Maxwell Hyslop Maxwell himself served as a director on the Board of the local mental hospital, the Crichton Royal Institution, between 1875 and 1897, and was chairman of the Board in 1898.

In 1904, Maxwell Hyslop Maxwell died at The Grove. His will provided that his widow Phoebe was to have right of occupation of The Grove so long as she desired; but she renounced this right, and the eldest son, Maxwell Hyslop Maxwell junior, became proprietor of The Grove and Glengaber estates. He never occupied the house, which was let for short periods, and then during World War I used as a military hospital, subsequently remaining unoccupied. Maxwell junior was not only a director of the family firm, but also held other important directorships (amongst others, on the board of the Cunard company); and he was also deeply involved in Liverpool local government, his Scottish estates was left over the years to drift into a terminal muddle which came to a head in the early 1930s. Bankruptcy loomed - the debts amounted to perhaps £500,000 in today’s values - with as a consequence the possible loss of lucrative directorships. Because of the entail on the estates, selling or mortgaging them was problematic. The heir to the estates was Maxwell’s brother Alexander, and the heir presumptive his son, also Alexander; and it was only when they granted a Bond and Disposition in Security that it was possible to obtain a mortgage; and other members of the family, more or less reluctantly, chipped in to save Maxwell’s skin. There followed years of legal processes to break the entail; and it was not until February 1938 that the Court of Session issued a decree authorising Alexander to sell his heritage. Later that year, The Grove house was sold to the Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, and became a convalescent hospital. Other parts of the Grove estate - the gardens, woodlands, dairy and home farm - remained in Alexander’s possession until his death in 1957; and were subsequently sold off piecemeal. The Grove Hospital closed on 27 August 1975, shortly after the opening of the new Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary. The house, now a listed building (Category B) has reverted to private ownership; and plans have been prepared for its division and conversion for residential use.