Maxwell Lands

Throughout the eight hundred years of Maxwell history in Scotland, various cadet branches of the family have owned land from which they have taken their designations. This is a list of some of those designated lands with some brief notes on the families who lived there. The list is by no means complete and the details sketchy. This is not to say that further information is not available on the lands and their owners.


Calderwood Castle stood on the banks of the River Calder in Calderglen beside the modern town of East Kilbride. The Maxwells of Calderwood held the barony of Calderwood for 600 years until the early 1900’s. There was a small village nearby called Maxwellton now part of the spreading metropolis of East Kilbride.


Munchies was the home of that branch of the Maxwells from early in the seventeenth century until the middle of the twentieth century. The old house was replaced with a large Victorian mansion in the 1880 but this house was reduced in the 1930’s. The lands border onto the River Urr just south of the town of Dalbeattie in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.


Conheith is today a farm midway between Dumfries and Caerlaverock Castle. In former times there was a towerhouse there. The house was at time the dower house and sometimes the home of the master of Maxwell. There was a Maxwell cadet living in the lands of Conheith from the late sixteenth century until the late eighteenth century. The family may have been closely connected to the Maxwells of Carnsalloch.


Auldhouse was a cadet of Nether Pollok. It is situated to the south of the paternal house. The Maxwells of Auldhouse inherited Pollok when the main line of that house failed in the eighteenth century.


Kirkconnell is a small barony on the western bank of the Nith estury south of Dumfries. It came into the Maxwell family through marriage in the middle of the fifteenth century. After the reformation the Kirkconnell Maxwells remained faithful to the old religon. The main line of the Kirkconnell Maxwells failed at the beginning of the twentieth century and the lands passed to the Maxwells of Breoch.


Tealing in Angus, some ten miles north of Dundee, was acquired through the marriage of Eustace Maxwell, uncle of the first Lord Maxwell in 1425 to Mary, youngest daughter and co-heiress of Sir Hugh Giffard of Yester. The Tealing Maxwell were very prolific in the area and held the barony for ten generations. Helen Maxwell heiress of Sir Hew Maxwell of Tealing married George Maxwell of Newark in 1610 and the two baronies were joined in the ownership of their son Sir Patrick Maxwell of Newark and Tealing.  Sir Patrick was reputed to have been created a Baronet for lending large sums of money to King Charles at the defense of Oxford during the Civil War although there are no surviving records of the creation. Sir Patrick's grandson George Maxwell sold Tealing to the Scrymgeour family of Dundee in 1704. The line of Newark and Tealing failed late in the eighteenth century.  Some armorial gravestones of the Maxwell family are present in the Tealing churchyard and a dovecot built in the sixteenth century by Sir David Maxwell still stands. The current Tealing House is built around the core of the earlier Maxwell house. The Maxwell families of Lackiebank and Strathmartine are scions of the Maxwells of Tealing.


Hills is a barony to the south of Dumfries originally owned by a son of Lord Maxwell in the sixteenth century. The land is quite open and the towerhouse isolated. The infant seventh Lord Maxwell died here and it was the home of the Edward Maxwell, vicar of Caerlaverock who was hung at Carlisle.  Drumcoultran tower was part of the Hills barony. The lands passed through marriage to the McCullochs of Ardwell in the seventeenth century.

  This list could be endless and is clearly not yet complete.
More will follow in due course.




The lands of Carnsalloch originally formed part of the patrimony of the lairds of Dalswinton, Sir Herbert Maxwell of Caerlaverock, having married Catherine, daughter of John Stewart of Dalswinton, received from the latter the lands of Carnsalloch by charter dated 10th August 1386. In the charter Sir Herbert was only to hold the lands in pledge for his bride’s tocher of 400 merks. Presumably the tocher was never paid, for Sir Herbert and his descendants remained in possession not only of Carnsalloch, but also of Dursquhen (now Dalscone) another of the original Dalswinton lands. In the charter, Carnsalloch is bounded by the Abbacy of Holywood (on the west), by Dursquhen (on the south) by the Abbot of Melrose's lands of Achincreth and Burnskath (on the east), and by the lands of the Kirktoun of Kirkmahoe (on the north). It would thus appear that at this time Carnsalloch comprehended Templandhill, but not Dursquhen, which nevertheless remained in combination with Carnsalloch

Robert, 2nd Lord Maxwell, grandson of Sir Herbert last mentioned, granted, by charter dated at Caerlaverock 20th March 1456/7, to his stepmother, Catherine Seton, the lands of Carnsalloch and Dursquhen in ‘blench ferm’, with remainder to George (first of Carnsalloch) and other children of her marriage with Herbert, 1st Lord Maxwell, and lawful heirs male of their bodies. Thus a separate lairdship was formed, now including Dursquhen, and a new branch of the Maxwell family bore the territorial designation ‘of Carnsalloch’ for over the next three centuries.

George Maxwell 9th of Carnsalloch” made a deed of settlement in 1722 on his younger children leaving them money but excluding them from inheritance of Carnsalloch. It would seem his older sons (none of whom married) were something of a disappointment tohim so he made a late change in the settlement of Carnsalloch leaving it to the son of his eldest daughter having given it in life-rent to his second son James. The eldest son Edmund had embarrassed the family by riding out in the 1715 rebellion but predeceased his father. George died in 1727 and James died in 1750 quickly followed by his brother Captain George Maxwell. Carnsalloch then passed to the eldest grandson, James Maxwell of Kirkconnell who would have also been a disappointment to old George had he still been alive. James had been out with Bonny Prince Charlie’s army in the '45 rebellion. He spent several years in exile coming home in time to immediately dispose of Carnsalloch in favour of the lands of Mabie closer to his home of Kirkconnell. Old George's youngest son Robert (who was only 16 at the time of his father's death) moved to England and was a successful land agent and farmer!




Elizabeth, of Sir Robert Denniston of Finlaystone, married Sir Robert Maxwell of Calderwood and she inherited the barony of Newark which she gave to her son Patrick Maxwell then of Newark. Patrick Maxwell, great grandson of the first Maxwell of Newark, in 1516 obtained, from the Earl of Lennox, the Grant of the lands of Dargavel and became the first Maxwell of Dargavel.

A coat of arms on the east gable of Dargavel House (including in it the stag’s head of the Maxwell crest) is dated 1584. This may recall the date of the building but, more likely of an improvement of the original house. Described as ‘Z’ plan building, it was similar to Kelbourne and Knock castles in Ayrshire, built at the same time. Rectangular in shape it lay roughly north to south. With large turrets at it’s north west and south east corners. With roughcast walls, it had three storeys and an attic. The main doorway was on the west front, now obscured by later additions. A passage to the left of the front door led to the main spiral stair in the north-west turret. There are two cellars and a kitchen on the ground floor, with the main hall and private room on the first floor. From their a small turnpike stair. Located in a turret and the main east wall, led to the families private rooms on the second floor, while accommodation for domestics and other retainers was on the top floor.

The windows in the old building are the original ones, with moulding on the jambs and the lintels, the one in the west gable at the second floor level are particular ornate. The sundial dated 1670, in the wall of the south-east tower, may commemorate some later rebuilding. The whole house was reconstructed and extended in 1849 by the laird – John Hall-Maxwell CB of Dargavel – David Bryce RSA being the architect. Dargavel is situated in the Parish of Erskine (now Bishopton). The name Erskine had its origins in Viking times. Early in the 11th century, a Scotsman, having killed a Viking general, cut off his head and with the bloody dagger in his hand, showed it to King Malcolm II saying in Gaelic – referring to the head and dagger "Eris Skyne". Malcolm thereupon gave him the surname Erskine, and no doubts also the lands along the Clyde. The next record of the family is 200 years later (1225) when Henry de Erskine witnessed a charter. The Erskine’s continued to play their part in the history of the Kingdom of Scotland. Sir Robert Erskine became Great Chamberlain in 1350; Robert, 3rd Lord Erskine died beside his King at Flodden (1531); John 5th Lord Erskine was made hereditary Keeper of Stirling Castle and his son John, 6th Lord Erskine was made Earl of Mar in 1562 by Mary, Queen of Scots. By 1638, when the Erskine family had for some time been settled in Alloa and the Stirling district, they sold the Manor (now the site of Princess Louise's Hospital) to Sir John Hamilton of 0rbiston.

There is no information as to what caused the rivalry between the Hamilton's of Orbiston and the Maxwell's of Dargavel, which came to a head under William, grandson of this Sir John. Since the Erskine's had been away from the parish for about a century, there were no fixed seats for them in Erskine church. Dargavel, on the other hand, had a seat and what is described as table in the church, as well as burial rights in the churchyard. This filled Orbiston, as laird, with great resentment. These were Covenanting times, when opinions in Scotland were split between those who accepted Charles II's establishment of a Church of Scotland governed by bishops, and those who adhered to two National Covenants, which declared the right of the Scots Kirk to democratic Presbyterian government. Orbiston is known to have been anti-Covenanter, so there may have been politico-religious differences between the two men, as well as personal antagonism. With the support of some neighbours, in April 1692 Orbiston collected about 100 men, armed with guns, pistols, swords, bayonets and other offensive weapons. They failed to ambush the Maxwell's on their way to church; possibly they had been warned and had taken a different route. The quarrel must have been over more than a seat in church for the neighbours to have taken part.

During the service, the sound of trumpets and drums outside the church heralded the approach, in military formation, of Orbiston's men, headed by his Baillie, whose name happened to be Maxwell. This party erupted into the church and, seizing Dargavel and his followers, threw them out and overturned their seats and the "table". There is no record of the minister's reaction to the invasion, but those who protested peacefully about this unseemly conduct were roughly handled. Meanwhile the Maxwell family gravestones had been overturned or removed from the churchyard. A fierce struggle ensued outside the church, but there were no serious casualties. Dargavel brought the matter before the Privy Council where the Earl of Glencairn, as principal heritor of the parish, intervened in the dispute. Dargavel had to surrender his right to an exclusive chair in the church, while Orbiston had to allow him burial rights in the ground to the east end of the graveyard, permission to fence it round and even the right, if he so wished, to make a door in the east gable end of the church. Relations between Orbiston and his neighbours at Erskine must have become very strained because, 11 years later (1703), he sold his land to Lord Blantyre and returned to Lanarkshire in 1812, when the church walls were crumbling, the contemporary laird Blantyre gave land for a new church to the west of the site, so as to preserve the existing graveyard. The church now at Erskine is the one completed in 1815.

On its north wall is a plaque recording the end of the line of Maxwell's of Dargavel. During the First World War three sons and two grandsons of the last laird were killed in action, Villagers in Bishopton remember the Misses Maxwell driving to Erskine church on Sundays in their horse-drawn carriage. The Maxwell's of Dargavel faded from history when their Lands were absorbed into the Royal Ordnance Factory area.





The lands of Prestoun occupy the bottom right hand corner of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. At their heart is the three or four houses that make up the village of Preston and a few hundred yards to the south is Wreiths tower known sometimes as Preston Tower. The tower was once part of the Earldom of Morton and came to Lord Maxwell with the Earldom in 1581. The land of Preston seem to have been part of Maxwell of Caven's holdings. The lands were acquired by William Maxwell eldest son of Homer Maxwell of Newlands brother to Carnsalloch around 1730. Whilst William took the designation Prestoun, he also seems to have had the lands of Cavens and Kirkhouse, the whole adding up to a considerable holding. He was a very wealth man having made a fortune in the West Indies in the suger trade. His brother was Homer Maxwell, a lieutenant in Colonel Blythes regiment of foot and he had a sister Mary married to the Rev. Allen of Dunscore. William married his cousin, Elizabeth, daughter of William Hairstains of Craigs and Mary Maxwell daughter of old Carnsalloch and they had two daughters, Mary who married the Earl of Sutherland and Willielma who married Viscount Glenorchy. William died quite young in 1739 shortly before the birth of his younger daughter. William's widow took up residence at Cavens until she Married some ten years later Sir Charles Erskine of Alva. The lands passed out of Maxwell hands upon her death in the early 1800's.


Caven lies a few hundred yards south of the village of Kirkbean in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright with land running South and Eastward down to the banks of the Nith estuary. Kirkbean is famed as the birthplace of the maritime freebooter, John Paul Jones, who later founded the American Navy. Cavens was once part of the Earldom of Morton and came to the Maxwell family when Lord Maxwell assumed that title in 1581. By 1589, Cavens is in the hands of Herbert Maxwell of Cavens who was tried for the murder of Sir Robert Maxwell of Dinwiddie in 1605. John Maxwell, Bishop of Ross was a scion of Cavens Maxwells as were the Maxwells of Kirkhouse. The Cavens Maxwells died out in 1640 and the cadet line of Maxwell of Kirkhouse inherited. James Maxwell, Earl of Dirleton was the last of that line and the property then appears to have been inherited by members of the Murrey family, Earls of Annandale. An eighteenth century house possibly a house built for William Maxwell of Preston is the main caput, is now the Cavens Country House Hotel.


Originally part of the barony of Cavens, Kirkhouse occupied the northern part of those lands when they were divided in the 1590's. The main house was built on a croft at Gateside on the eastern side of the village of Kirkbean  and the land surrounded the village stretching up onto the hills in the West and down to the Nith in the East. James Maxwell, Earl of Dirleton was the most famous scion of the branch of the Maxwells rising in the royal house hold of King Charles from a mere gentleman of the bedchamber to the lofty rank of Earl. But as a younger son he did not inherit his paternal land which went to his eldest brother. The last of the line was John Maxwell of Kirkhouse who died about 1730 but his grand-daughter Isabella Ellise who styled herself, Maxwell, was heir of deposition in the 1750's.










This large barony lies in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright south of Palnackie. Originally owned by the Cairns family, it centers on the unique round tower house of the same name. It came into the possession of Maxwell family of Drumcoltran in the middle of the sixteenth century through marriage. Edward Maxwell of Drumcoltran sold Orchardton to Robert Maxwell of Spottes, grandson of John Maxwell, Lord Herries in 1640. There after this family were created Baronets with the designation of Orchardton. They built a new tower house and mansion some quarter mile south of the old tower at a former farm named Glenshinnoch which they renamed Orchardton House. The Maxwells of Orchardton split off a portion of the barony in the south west to form the lesser barony of Gelston which became the estate of a younger son. Orcharton was the home of Sir Robert Maxwell who was out in the '45' with Bonnie Prince Charlie and was immortalized in Sir Walter Scott's Guy Mannering. When Sir Robert died in 1786 the Orchardton was sold to Sir William Douglas of Castle Douglas upon who's death, his estates were divided amongst his three sisters. The youngest who received the Orchardton barony was married to Colonel Christopher Maxwell, a younger son of the Maxwells of Cardoness. There were no children surviving from this union and the barony passed out of Maxwell hands upon Mrs Maxwell death.









Drumcoltran was part of the extensive baronial lands of the Lords Herries of Herries. Sir John Maxwell of Terregles bought up most of the barony after he married the eldest daughter and co-heiresses of William Herries of the 3rd Lord Herries.  However, by 1579, Drumcoltran seems to have ended up in the ownership of Edward Maxwell of Lochrutton and Hills and passed to his younger son, also Edward. It seem probable that the second Edward built the considerable tower house that now occupies the center of the three farms that make up the barony. John Maxwell of Drumcoltran inherited the barony of Orchardton in 1633, his Mother having been the heiress of those lands. John was in Montrose's army that raided into England in 1644 during the Civil War. He left two daughters who served heir to their father in 1679. After this the land passed out of Maxwell hands to the Irving family until 1875 when it was bought by Alfred Peter Constable Maxwell, brother of the Lord Herries for the considerable sum of £20,000. Drumcoltran remained with the Constable Maxwell family for only thirty years before it was sold again. The tower house is now in the care of  Scottish Heritage.