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Maxwell of Corduff (Lusk, Co. Dublin) & Finnebrogue (Co. Down)

Loughbawn House

The following brief investigation was a gift for a friend called Verity whose grandfather George Maxwell was an inspector with the Royal Irish Constabulary during the Irish Troubles of 1916 – 1922. Any further thoughts on this matter are most welcome.


Maxwell of Finnebrogue


Even the brilliant Anthony Malcolmson of the Public Records Office in Northern Ireland has stated that the Maxwells are a family “of unbelievable complexity” when it comes to sorting out the pedigree. They have been in existence at least since the time of Charlemagne when they spelt their name ‘de Macusville‘. One of these de Macusville’s came to England with William the Conqueror but soon fell out with his Norman master and fled to the Court of the King of Scotland.

By 1258, Amyer de Macceswell, ancestor of the Earls of Farnham, had established himself as one of the ‘Magnates Scotiea‘. In 1571, Amyer’s lineal descendent, Sir John Maxwell, was living at Calderwood in the Scottish Lowlands.

Sir John’s second son Rev. Robert Maxwell was appointed Dean of Armagh by King James I and his eldest son became Bishop of Kilmore in 1643.  [1]

Robert’s second son, Henry Maxwell, leased a large estate “in perpetuity” at Finnebrogue, near Inch Abbey, between the Quoile River and Strangford Lough in County Down. The Maxwells of Finnebrogue are known today as the Perceval Maxwells.


The Waring Family


It is not yet clear just how George Maxwell fits in with the Finnebrogue family. His great-grandfather Arthur Maxwell of Brookend lived near the present day Brookend Nature Reserve outside Cookstown, Co. Tyrone. According to Burke’s Landed Gentry of Ireland (1912), Arthur also had something to say to Killyfaddy, a property outside Clogher, Co. Tyrone that came into the family in the time of John Waring Maxwell.

John Waring Maxwell was a soldier who served in the West Indies and such like until 1783 when he married his cousin Dorothea Maxwell, heiress of Finnebrogue. He subsequently adopted the additional surname of Maxwell. In the 1790s, he became Lieutenant-Colonel of the Downshire Militia and Captain of the Inch Yeomanry in Downpatrick.

He died young in 1802 leaving children including John Waring Maxwell junior and, I suspect, Robert Waring Maxwell. In 1837, Killyfaddy is listed as belonging to Robert Waring Maxwell, JP, DL, Esq., and when he died – without issue – it is believed he left Killyfaddy House to his sister’s family — the Ancketills of Ancketill Grove, County Monaghan, who continued to live at Killyfaddy House until the middle of the twentieth century. [2]


Rev. George Maxwell (1809-1870), Vicar of Askeaton


Arthur Maxwell of Brookend had a son George Maxwell who was born on 27 August 1809 and entered the Church of Ireland shortly after Catholics were granted emancipation in 1829. Ordained on 30 November 1832, he served as Curate at Askeaton, Co. Limerick, from 1833 until raised to the Vicarage in 1838. He remained Vicar of Askeaton from 1838 to 1870.

During this time he had to handle the horror of the Great Famine. By 1847, he was the Hon. Secretary of the local Relief Committee. He sent a letter to the government in Dublin that February with a list of those who had subscribed to his Relief Fund – £253.14s.7d was all he had managed to collect, which was unlikely to go far with more than 7000 people in the locality seriously threatened by the potato blight. His task was not made any easier by the fact Askeaton’s population had almost doubled to 10,000 in the 15 years since he first became curate. Most of these newcomers were labourers, living off potatoes. The workhouse in Rathkeale was already overcrowded by the time the Rev. Maxwell wrote his letter to Dublin. Auxiliary workhouses and a fever hospital were rapidly built but even so it would seem that several thousand people in and around Askeaton perished during the Famine.

George’s wife Margaret Anne Hewson was a daughter of John Francis Hewson, DL, of Ennismore, Listowel, Co. Kerry. Curiously, J.F. Hewson was among those who died in 1847. George and Margaret had two sons, Arthur and John, and two daughters Elizabeth and Margaret Anne. The Rev. George Maxwell died on 8 January 1870; his widow survived him until 5 March 1881.

Their eldest son Arthur Maxwell succeeded and is treated in the next chapter.

Their second son John Francis Maxwell, JP, was born in 1843, graduated with an MA from Trinity College Dublin and settled at Rostrevor, Co. Down.

Their elder daughter Elizabeth Caroline Maxwell was married 8 months after her fathers’ death in August 1870 to Canon Edmund Lombard Swan Eves (1840-1930), son of Samuel Eves. Canon Eves was Church of Ireland Rector of Maryborough (now Portlaoise) in the Queen’s County (now Co Laois). Bartholomew Mosse‘s father was Rector there 200 years earlier. Canon Eves was also Chaplain to HM’s Prison at Maryborough from 1874 to 1920.

Three of their children died of diphtheria in June 1880. On 11 September 1911, their son Arthur F. Eves was married in the parish church of Harpenden to Isabel Mary Pigott, daughter of the late John Trench Pigott, JP, and his wife, Isabella Georgina Roe of Togher, Co Laois. Arthur’s father, Canon Eves, and brother, the Rev Herbert Lombard Eves (1881-1953) officiated at the service. (Herbert went on to become Vicar of Aldaton in Bristol in 1946). Arthur died at Cawnpore, India, [date unknown] and his widow returned home. She was staying with Canon Eves at Maryborough when her distant cousin [through the Croasdaile lineage] Kenneth Essex Edgeworth returned home on leave from World War One in 1916. Edgeworth visited her at Maryborough, and they were married the following year in London.

Their younger daughter Margaret did not marry.


Arthur Maxwell (1842-1909) & the Becher Family


The Rev. George was succeeded in 1870 by his eldest son Arthur Maxwell. Born in 1842, he graduated with a BA from Trinity and settled at Corduff near Lusk in Co. Dublin where he was a JP. According to Lewis’s Topographical Dictionary of 1837, Corduff – then residence of the Rev. F. Baker – was one of the principal seats in the barony of Lusk. For many centuries it was the home of the Stanihurst family.

In 1873 Arthur Maxwell married Ellen Jervois Becher, eldest daughter of Henry Owen Becher of Aughadown, Skibbereen, Co. Cork. The Bechers were a prominent Protestant family in West Cork , tracing their origins back to Fane Becher, a London haberdasher, who received 14,000 acres in the Munster Plantation of 1585.

Ellen’s brother John Becher lived at Loughine House (formerly Hollybrook ) in Skibbereen and her younger sister Henrietta married Edmund Meade-Waldo of Hever Castle, Kent, and was mother to the English ornithologist and conservationist Edmund Meade-Waldo (1855-1934).


Arthur Henry Maxwell of Corduff Stud & Diomedes


Arthur’s younger son Arthur Henry Maxwell (brother of George) lived at Newtown in Corduff where he ran a stud farm. In September 1908 , he married his neighbour Vereana Estelle Beresford Cobbe, younger daughter of Leuric Cobbe (1859-1897), patriarch of the Newbridge House family in Donabate.

Amongst the horses that stood at Corduff was My Prince, the great National Hunt sire of such illustrious chasers as Prince Regent (winner of the 1946 Cheltenham Gold Cup), Easter Hero, Gregalach, Reynoldstown and Royal Mail. (See here for more). The horse died a few months before its owner in 1938. From an own-sister to Prince Regent, Arthur also bred the exceptional sprinter Diomedes, winner of 17 of his 19 starts, including a dead-heat with Phalaros in the July Cup in 1926 and a walk-over in the same race under John Leach in 1925. He was a rare bargain, costing only 200 guineas as a yearling, and became the outstanding sprinter of his era. He failed to stay ten furlongs as a three-year-old, and ran one bad race at Ascot at four. Otherwise, his career was perfection. In 1925, he won the July Cup, the King’s Stand Stakes and the Nunthorpe Stakes.

It would seem Arthur was married secondly to Ellen Jervois Becher but I have yet to confirm this. Arthur died on 29 November 1909. Two years later, the 1911 Census reveals that the household of Lusk House, Corduff, Co Dublin, was then headed by Ellen J Maxwell, aged 71, widow, born in Co Cork ‘& can read & write’. Also registered were her sons George (aged 36), Arthur Henry (aged 35), daughters Ellen Harriet (aged 33) & Margaret Anna (aged 31), her sister-in-law Margaret Anne (aged 64), her daughters-in-law Edith Frances (nee Battersby, then aged 36) and Doriana E B (aged 24), and little Arthur Thomas, a one-year-old grandson. There were also several servants.


George Maxwell (1874-1937) & Edith Francis Battersby


In 1909, Arthur Maxwell died and was succeeded at Corduff by his 35-year-old eldest son George Maxwell, then a rising star of the Royal Irish Constabulary serving in Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath.

Born in 1874, George was educated at Marlborough, Woolwich and Trinity College Dublin. He was in the RIC by 1903 when he was awarded a ‘Visit to Ireland’ medal for Edward VII’s visit. His RIC number was 59039. By 1917, he was District Inspector in Waterford City. He rose to County Inspector in 1920 (Westmeath).

On 5 May 1909, just six months before his fathers’ death, George married 35-year-old Edith Francis Battersby, eldest daughter of Lincoln’s Inn barrister John Radcliffe Battersby of Loughbawn and his wife Augusta (née Rynd). [3]

Edith was the eldest of seven children. Her eldest brother George was born in 1877 and educated at Cheltenham and Portora Royal School but died unmarried aged 42 on 18 August 1919. The Spanish Flu perhaps?

Edith’s middle brother, the Rev. Augustus Wolfe Battersby was curate of All Saints Parish Church, Antrim. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, he was listed in the 1911 Census of Ireland as a Clerk in Holy Orders, living at Church Street, Antrim. Augustus was a member of Gwynn’s Temperance L.O.L. 419, Antrim. On 25 March 1914, the 29-year-old was given the rank of 2nd Lieutenant with the 4th Battalion of the Connaught Rangers. On 5 December he was promoted to lieutenant. On 17 March 1915, he was seconded for service with the West African Frontier Force, and attached to the 2nd Nigerian Regiment in Kanierun. He died of fever on active service less than three months later, on 8 June 1915, during a combined Anglo-French campaign against the German colony of Cameroon. The Germans were ultimately defeated in February 1916.  [4]

Edith’s youngest brother John Radcliffe Battersby served with the 3/4th King’s African Rifles and the East African Mounted Rifles in the Great War. He succeeded to Loughbawn on the death of his brother George in 1919. John was married twice – first (1925) to Phillis Francis Ally of Hill of Ward, Athboy, Co. Westmeath, and second (1948) to Marguerite Hope Clair of Toronto.

As to Edith’s four sisters, Millicent married George Astley Rotheram of Crossdrum, Co. Meath; Rosalie married Commander Thomas Crauford Anderson, RN, of Yorkshire while Dorothy and Mona never married and lived in Norfolk. [5]


Constance Markiewicz.

George Maxwell and Countess Markiewicz


Contrary to family legend, George Maxwell did not arrest Countess Markiewicz. That honour fell to Captain Harry de Courcy-Wheeler, staff captain to General Lowe, during the Easter Rising. The later Alex Findlater, a grandson of de Councy-Wheeler, confirmed this for me at a meeting in 2005. Oddly enough, the Countess was a first cousin of de Courcy-Wheeler’s wife. Alex wrote about this in “Findlaters: The Story of a Dublin Merchant Family 1774-2001“.

There may yet be more details to unearth though because the following message was dispatched to George Maxwell at the height of the Easter Rising on 29 April 1916 when, of course, the Royal Irish Constabulary were on high alert:

Chief Secretary’s Office
Dublin Castle
Transmit following message from Irish Command Headquarters to Co[unty] Inspectors in your area with directions to distribute it as widely as possible.
The Sinn Fein Rebels in the area Capel St Great Britain St + Lower Gardiner St, are completely surrounded by a cordon of troops which is gradually closing on to the centre – the troops assisted by artillery are gradually overcoming resistance – one of the principal leader Rebels PH Pearse is known to be inside the cordon suffering from a fractured thigh – the woman known as Countess Markovitch [sic] has also been seen inside, another leader James Connolly is reported killed – the adjoining area containing the four Courts is also surrounded by a cordon which is closing on its centre and containing therein most of the rebels – a division complete with artillery is now operating in the Dublin area and more troops are constantly arriving, arrangements are being made to intern in England all Sinn Feiners captured or surrendered who are not dealt with here, Roger Casement has declared that Germany has sent all assistance she is going to send and this is now at the bottom of the sea.
Inspector General.

As Ireland tumbled towards the inevitable War of Independence with England, George – almost certainly a loyalist – became convinced his life was in danger. By the close of the war, nineteen RIC Constables had been killed while issuing summons.

The RIC descended from the Baronial Police which had been replaced in 1814 by Robert Peel’s well-trained Peace Preservation Force. The PPF lasted until 1836 when the County Constabulary was established as the Irish Constabulary. Catholic membership was encouraged as part of the liberal reforms of Under-Secretary Thomas Drummond. The armed force of the IC were regarded as “the mallet of Dublin Castle“, particularly after 1867 when their suppression of the Fenians earned them the ‘Royal’ prefix to become the RIC.

By 1919, the RIC were a pretty easy target for militant Republicans. George’s position in the Irish Free State would have been exceptionally precarious. Nationalist sentiment had no time for those who professed to be Irish by nationality yet loyal to the British crown. Indeed, to accuse a fellow-nationalist of consanguinity with the RIC or Dublin Metropolitan Police was the ultimate insult, much nastier than the epithet “West Briton” which Molly Ivors fires at Gabriel Conroy in Joyce’s “The Dead.”

George is supposed to have resettled in Coleraine, where he had bank accounts, but Edith detested the north and in the early 1920s they made their way to Brittany. Verity’s father was at school in Jersey. They returned to Lough Bawn some years later where George bred red setters and Edith ran the family home as a guest house.

George Maxwell, an enthusiastic fishermen, died of pneumonia in 1937 having caught a cold while out fishing on Lough Bawn.


Further Reading

  • Jack of all Trades,-Col. Kenneth Essex Edgeworth (Figgis & Co. Dublin, 1965) – copy in The National Library.
  • Succession Lists of The Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough & The Diocese of Leighlin, Canon J.B. Leslie (available at the Representative Church Body Library, Churchtown, Co. Dublin).
  • Further information may also be available from the RIC files at the National Archives on Bishop Street. George Maxwell’s service number was 59039. There are apparently 184 volumes of records there so lots of time would be required for further investigation.




Thanks to Verity Butterfield, Tiffany Butterfield, Alex Findlater, David Maxwell, Trish Swain, Jenny Stiles, Gilly Butler, John O’Grady and Peter McGoldrick.







[1] James Stuart’s Historical Memoirs of Armagh – p. 397/8.

[2] Killyfaddy House was built in 1827 by Farrell with good outbuildings set in parkland with mature trees. The OSM of 1833-35 notes, ‘It is surrounded by recent plantations, which the proprietor is constantly enlarging’ and plenty of new planting added by the present owner. It was also admired by Atkinson in 1833. The setting is very attractive, with the house set high above a man-made lake and backed by wooded hills. The modern garden at the house is well maintained. The walled garden is not kept and is used for stock. One disused gate lodge of three survives, the West Lodge c.1830. The house is private“.

I previously proposed that Robert was the father of Arthur but it transpires Robert did not have children.

[3] John can be found in both the 1901 and 1911 Census for Ireland, with his surname wrongly transcribed as Battersly and Batling respectively.

[4] He is listed on the Roll of Honour in Antrim Protestant Hall and also on the Roll of Honour in All Saints Parish Church, Antrim. See also de Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour (although Antrim is wrongly recorded as Co. Down!). With thanks to Eddie Kelso. There are War Diary records of the WAFF at the PRO Kew. It is also worth consulting

[5] It may be relevant that, according to Burke’s, Millicent Rotheram had an address at Sallymount, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath after her husband George’s death in 1951.

Lusitania Funeral May 10 1915

Back row 4th from right: James Patrick Kelly 1900-1976. Irish Free State Army 24.3.1925

Oldcastle street view - Cogan Street