Jan 01 2010
Coat of arms: Maxwell of Cardoness
Although it is common enough for a father and son or a pair of brothers to serve in the same regiment, particularly where the family has a strong military tradition, the Maxwells of Cardoness were unusual in that a pair of brothers in one generation were followed into the 30th by a trio of brothers of the next generation.
There was certainly a military tradition in the family. Colonel William Maxwell of Cardoness was a staunchly anti-Jacobite Presbyterian who rallied to the cause of William III, fighting for him at Killiekrankie and the Boyne. His son, John, rose to the rank of major, but it was the next generation that first produced officers for the 30th.
The eldest son, Captain John Maxwell, married well, gaining property by marriage in 1750, and inheriting Cardoness Castle from his father in 1752.
The younger of his two brothers, Christopher , was commissioned as an ensign in the 30th in 1755, and eventually rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1782.
Christopher (1), the elder of the two Christopher Maxwells
He retired in 1794, having commanded the regiment for eleven years. He twice saw action in Frence, at the failed attempt to take Cherbourg in 1758 and at the successful seizure of Belle Isle three years later. He also commanded the regiment at Ettaw Springs, reputedly the bloodiest battle of the American War of Independence. The action was claimed as a British victory because they held the ground, although both sides had actually fought themselves to a standstill.
Christopher Maxwell’s career indicates how the purchase system might work in the mid-18th century. In 1775 Major Peter Dumas decided to retire, but wanted £3000 guineas (about £550 above the government ordained selling price) for his majority. Maxwell could only raise 1000 guineas but when Lieutenant Wilkinson offered 2000 guineas for Maxwell’s company it seemed that his problem was solved. Unfortunately, Wilkinson was only 20, and the Irish establish (the regiment were in Ireland at the time) decided he was too young to have his own company. Maxwell decided to pull a few strings. He wrote to the Secretary for war, reminding his of some favours owed. This placed the minister in a difficult position. Although the government knew how the purchaase system worked in practice, they still pretended that commissions were never bought for more than the official price. In the end, whatever his sense of indebtedness, he had to inform Maxwell that a minister of the Crown could do nothing to facilitate overpayment. Whether he sent a different message privately is unclear, but in 1776 Maxwell obtained Dumas’s majority. As for Wilkinson, he had to wait another three years before he was promoted to capatain.
An instance of Maxwell’s concern for the regiment was demonstrated on the island of Domenica, where many of the men were in a perilous state of health because of exhaustion and the effects of the climate. The surgeon informed Maxwell that they needed wine if they were to recover their strength, whereupon Maxwell paid for wine out of his own pocket.
His elder brother, David , followed Christopher into the regiment in 1759, also as ensign.
David (1), the elder of the two David Maxwells
He was at Belle Isle in 1761 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1762 but in the same year he went on half-pay upon the death of his elder brother. Like the late John maxwell, he married well, Henrietta Maxwell of Cairnsmore. In 1804 he was created a baronet. He died in 1831, having remained on half-pay for fifty-seven years. He did, however, use his infuence to persuade recruits to enlist in the 30th.
He was the subject of a poem by Burns, On a Galloway Laird [Not quite so wise as Solomon]. The poet also described him as “a stupid money-loving dunderpate”, although the animosity seems to have been caused by political differences rather than personal feeling.
All three of David Maxwell’s son served with the 30th.
William, the eldest, joined as an ensign in 1792.
A year later he was a lieutenant in Captain William Tomlinson’s Independent Company, attached to the 30th. Tomlinson himself had been an officer in the 30th who then recruited for rank and was subsequently promoted, another of the means of gaining promotion at the time. William himself was then promoted into the 93rd Foot. He later joined the 17th Foot. In December 1801 he was drowned off the coast of Portugal in the transport, London.
David  joined the 30th as a lieutenant in 1793 and was promoted to captain in 1798.
David (2), the younger of the two David Maxwells
He retired in 1803, having become heir to the Cardoness property upon William’s death. He served as a marine officer in the Mediterranean, for which many years later he received the Naval General Service silver medal. He was present at the successful taking of Malta in 1800 and served in Egypt in 1801, for which he received the Sultan’s Gold Medal and, eventually, the General Service Medal with a clasp for Egypt – one of the few survivors who were able to claim that clasp in 1848. In 1803 he exchanged in to the Guards.
Like his father and grandfather, he married well, an heiress from Antigua. He became the second baronet in 1831 and died in 1860.
The last of the family to serve with the 30th was the youngest of Captain John Maxwell’s three sons, Christopher .
Christopher (2), younger of the two Christopher Maxwells
He was a lieutenant in the regiment in 1794, captain by 1799, and major in 1808. He retired in 1817, at the end of the two-battalion period.
Although Christopher was at the taking of Malta, he missed all the other active service of the Napoleonic period. While the rest of the rgeiment was in Egypt, he was recruiting in England. He was initially attached to the second battalion as senior captain, but soon afterwards he was transferred to the first battalion, sailing with them to India in 1807. Meanwhile, the second battalion saw action in Spain and Portugal, and at Waterloo. His fate was shared by many of the more senior, and more experienced officers of the 30th. It was the newcomers or those new to their rank who saw all the action.
Shortly before he left India he was sent with three companies to deal with the bands of Pindarees (marauding robbers) who were terrorising parts of central India. Unfortunately, he arrived too late to take part in the campaign.
Upon retirement he married and settled in Galloway, dying in 1853.
(For more about Christopher  Maxwell and his dealings with Lieutenant Benjamin Nicholson, see 1st Battalion entries for “Diary of a Regiment”.)