William Maxwell 1676-1744
William MAXWELL, 5th Earl of Nithsdale, 1676-1744
Eldest son of Robert Maxwell, 4th earl of Nithsdale (1627/8–1683), he was probably born at Terregles Castle, near Dumfries. Brought up as a Roman Catholic and supporter of the exiled James II, he went to James's court in Saint Germain on reaching his majority. He married in Paris and return to Scotland. In 1703 his Protestant neighbours attacked and ransacked Terregles Castle and Maxwell was summoned to Edinburgh on suspicion of harbouring Cathloc priests. He was acquitted but deprived of his hereditary office of steward of Kirkcudbright.
In 1715 he raised a local force of Jacobite troops and joined the invasion of England. He was captured at Preston and taken to London and imprisoned in the Tower. He was tried for treason and sentenced to death but escaped from the Tower on the day before his execution in disguise as his wife's maid. He escaped to France and subsequently went to the Jacobite court in Rome where he led a life in rather reduced circumstances, dying there in 1744.
Used an engraved bookplate:
Franks *474 (Maxwell), The Right Honble. Wm., Earl of Nithsdaill.
The extent and disposition of his library is not known.
- Gambier Howe, E. R. J. Franks bequest: catalogue of British and American book plates bequeathed to the ... British Museum. London, 1903.
- Callow, John. "Maxwell, William, fifth earl of Nithsdale (1676–1744), Jacobite army officer and courtier." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.