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Lieutenant Colonel John Harley Maxwell
Royal [Bengal] Engineers
(later Major General)

Photograph courtesy of Mr. Fred Larimore
of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania

(Cdv backmark: W.J. Suter
Artist & Photographer,
Royal House, Cheltenham)

Personal Information

John Harley Maxwell was born in Glencairn, Dumfries, Scotland on the 5th of July 1822 and was christened on the 31st of July 1822 at Holywood, Dumfries, Scotland. He was the eldest son of Alexander Harley (1872-1853) and Sarah Telfer Hyslop Maxwell. General Maxwell married Catherine Anne Elliott (1815-1904), the youngest daughter of Admiral Johnston of Cowhill, Dumfries-shire.

After his retirement from the Army, Major General Maxwell returned to Scotland where he resided with his wife Catherine at Portrack Mansion House, Holywood, Dumfries. Mrs. Maxwell, seven years older than her husband, was also born in Dumfries. The Maxwells resided at Portrack Mansion House with a staff of five female and two male servants.

Portrack Mansion House
(photograph courtesy of Mr. Sandy Pittendreigh of the
Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society)

Outline of Service

11 Jun 1840: :

Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Bengal Engineers.

1842: :

Active service at Bundlecund.

1843-1844: :

Active service in the Gwalior Campaign. In command of the 1st Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners.

19 Feb 1844: :

Promoted Lieutenant, Bengal Engineers

1845: :

Active service at Sutlej.

1848-1849: :

Active service in the Punjab Campaign. Present with the 1st Company, Bengal Sappers and Miners at the Siege of Multan.

1 Aug 1854: :

Promoted Captain, Bengal Engineers

22 Aug 1854: :

Promoted Major (Army Rank)

18 Feb 1861: :

Promoted Lieutenant Colonel, Bengal Engineers

18 Feb1866: :

Promoted Colonel (Army Rank). Master of the Bombay Mint.

1 Mar1867: :

Promoted Colonel, Bengal Engineers

31 Dec1868: :

Promoted Major General (Army Rank). Retired.

5 Sep 1892: :

Died at Dumfries, Scotland.

War Service

John Harley Maxwell served with the Bundlecund Field Force and in affairs with insurgents near Jytepore in 1842. He also served in the Gwalior Campaign of 1843-44 and was present at the Battle of Punniar. He served in Scinde in 1845 in the Hill Campaigns under Sir Charles Napier. During the Punjab Campaign of 1848-9 he was the Brigade Major of the Bengal Engineers at the second siege operations before Multan (Mooltan). He was present for the surrender of the fortress at Multan and was also present at the Battle of Goojerat.

Honours and Awards

Gwalior Star and Punjab 1848-49 Medal with clasps [MOOLTAN][GOOJERAT]

Memorial Inscriptions

The following memorial inscriptions pertaining to the Maxwell family were supplied by Dr. Karl Williams of Glasgow. The inscriptions are the result of the work performed by the Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society in connection with an on-going project to compile a region-wide database of memorial inscriptions in Dumfries and Galloway. The following inscriptions were copied from tombstones at Holywood Cemetery in Dumfriesshire:

In Memory of
John Harley Maxwell, Major-General, RE, of Portrack
Eldest son of the late Alexander Harley Maxwell
Born 5th June 1822,
[1] died 5th September 1892

In Memory of
Catherine Anne Elliott
Widow of General John Harley Maxwell, RE,
and youngest daughter of the late Admiral Johnston of Cowhill, Dumfries-shire
Born 18th September 1815, died 5th March 1?04

Sacred to the Memory of
Agnes Harley Maxwell, daughter of Alex Harley Maxwell Esq. of Portrack
born 27th April 1820, died 1st August 1821
Also of Margaret Harley Maxwell
born 26th July 1821, died 12th March 1847
Also of Alexander Harley Maxwell Esq. of Portrack
born at Dumfries 8th December 1782, died at Edinburgh 20th September 1853 in his 71st year
Also Sarah Telfer Hyslop, relict of the late Alexander Harley Maxwell of Portrack,
died at Cheltenham on the 8th June 1878 agd 82 years

The following inscription, again courtesy of Dr. Karl Williams, is from a stained glass window in Holywood Kirk:[3]

To the glory of God
And in pious memory of
Vice-Admiral Charles J Johnston of Cowhill Tower
And of Lillias MacAlpin his wife
Gilbert Young Esq. of Lincluden
And of Hon Patricia Maule
Major Thomas and Capt O R C Young
Alexander Harley Maxwell
And Sarah Telfer Hyslop his wife
By Harley Maxwell and Alexander Harley


[1] The tombstone inscription gives Maxwell's date of birth as the 5th of June 1822. The LDS International Genealogical Index gives his birth date as the 5th of July 1822.
[2] The second digit of the year of Catherine's death is illegible on the tombstone. Presumably it is 1904.
[3] Additional genealogical information regarding families in southwestern Scotland, especially the "old" counties of Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire, can be found at, the web site of the Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society. Mr. Sandy Pittendreigh of the Society is preparing a CD-ROM entitled "Digital Tours of Dumfries and Galloway" that may be of interest to anyone seeking information about this area. Mr. Pittendreigh can be reached via email at or by mail at the following address:

Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society
9 Glasgow Street
Dumfries DG2 9AF, Scotland

Telephone: 0044 1387 248093


1. CONNOLLY, T.W.J. Roll of Officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers from 1660 to 1898. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, 1898, p. B.205.
2. SANDES, E.W.C. The Indian Sappers and Miners. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, 1948, pp. 170 and 184.
3. SANDES, E.W.C. The Military Engineer in India. Volume II. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, 1935, p. 310.
4. FITZMAURICE, D. FITZ J. Military Engineers in the Bombay Mint. The Royal Engineers Journal, Vol. XLV, The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, June 1931, pp. 259-273.
5. HART, H.G. The New Annual Army List, 1863. John Murray, London, 1863, p. 204 and Note 14.
6. Vital Records Index of the British Isles. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FHL Number 889486, 1837-1885.
7. 1881 British Census. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FHL Number 0224048, GRO Ref. Volume 830, Enum. Dist. 4, p. 16.
8. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) International Genealogical Index, Batch No. 7124416, Sheet 73, Source Call No. 0538900.