An American Family History

Colonel James Maxwell

Baltimore (now Harford) County, Maryland
Maryland was established with religious freedom for Catholics. The colonial economy was based on tobacco cultivated by Africans who had been enslaved.
In Colonial Maryland, the governor appointed justices to the county courts. Some of these justices were "Justices (or Gentlemen) of the Quorum" which meant that court could not be held without at least one of them being present.
Old Style Calendar
Before 1752 the year began on Lady Day, March 25th,. Dates between January 1st and March 24th were at the end of the year. Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are used to indicate whether the year has been adjusted. Often both dates are used.

Baltimore County, Maryland was founded in 1659 and included most of northeastern Maryland. The original county included parts of Cecil, Frederick, Harford, Carroll, and Baltimore Counties.

A gentleman had no title, but descended from an aristocratic family, was of the landed gentry, and had a coat of arms.
Guardianship is when a court gives an adult custody of a child and/or the responsibility of managing the child's property. Before women could own property, guardians were appointed for their minor children if their husband died.

Planter and Merchant, Colonel James Maxwell, was born about 1661 in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. He was the only child of James and Mary Maxwell of Herring Creek Hundred, Anne Arundel County. Patrick Hall was his stepfather. He was a gentleman.

The Maxwells were Protestant, although James apparently did not sign the Protestant petition to William and Mary in 1689.

In 1683, was appointed as an executor of the will of his brother-in-law, Henry Everett.

James, Jr. was living in Baltimore County by May, 1689, when he was proposed as one of the appraisers of John Taylor's estate.

On May 19, 1691, James sold Lucy Evans (executrix of Lewis Evans, of Anne Arundel County), 200 acres on the West Side of Chesapeake Bay, and on the South Side of Herring Creek that he inherited from his father.

He was taxed as a resident of the North Side of Gunpowder River Hundred in June, 1692.

James was appointed as a captain in the rangers in 1691/92 by the Council of Maryland. His district was from the Falls of the Patapsco to the Susquehanna. In colonial Maryland, rangers patrolled the frontier and warned of Native American war parties. James was made major, by 1694 and colonel, by 1706/7.

On September 21, 1694, James Maxwell of Baltimore County signed the following

Wee the Subscribers doe declare that wee doe believe that there is not any transubstantiation in the Sacrament of the Lords Supper or in the Elements of bread & Wine at or after the Consecration thereof by any person whatsoever.

On November 10, 1695, a grant of 553 acres called Major's Choice was made to Major James Maxwell.

He was sheriff of Baltimore County from 1696 to 1699 and again from 1701 to 1703.

He was a justice in Baltimore County in 1690/91, 1696, and from 1706 to 1727/28. He was a Justice of the Quorum from 1694 to 1696 and from 1706 to 1727/28. He was chief justice from 1715 to 1727/28.

He was a member of the Lower House, Baltimore County from 1694 to 1696, from 1704 to 1727. His nine terms in the legislature were one of the longest tenures in the Assembly's first century. The Assembly Proceedings, March 10, 1697/8-April 4, 1698 read:

It being moved to the house that Major James Maxwell high Sherriffe of Baltimore County lyes dangerously sick. The sending for the said Maxwell before this house is deferred till the next sessions.

In 1696 he signed the Association Address of support for King William III after the failed Jacobite plot.

. . .Tis the Remoteness of our habitations and not the less fervency of our Affections which makes Us (perhaps) later than others in Addressing yor Ma[ges]ty and Joyning with the rest of yor Loyall Subjects in Congratulating yor deliverance from the horrid designed Assassination against yor Sacred person . . .

His first wife was Mary Harmer. She had been married before to Benjamin Gundry and already had a son, Sprye Godfrey Gundry. She received land from her family that would be called Maxwell's Conclusion.

James Maxwell, the elder was born about 1700.

Eliza Ann Maxwell Ricketts was born about 1706.

Mary Harmer died about 1707.

His second wife was the widow, Anne Groome Richardson.

They were married by 1709 when Anne's sister, Elizabeth's husband, John Ewings, named James and Anne's brother, Moses, as guardians of his daughter, Dorcas.

Ashael Maxwell (married Hannah). Died 1729.

Elizabeth Maxwell

James Maxwell, the younger

Ann Maxwell Matthews was born about 1715.

Robert Maxwell.

James may also have been the father of Philixanna Maxwell Smithers who died before 1718.

The March Court of 1709 awarded James a contract to build a courthouse in Joppa Town on land that was owned by his son, James. The building was controversial and James was the leader of the movement to build it. The courthouse was built without the proper legal authority,

In 1712, James outlined the area of Joppa Town, Maryland on his own land. He, at first, declined the offer of three pounds per acre for home lots, but agreed to the price of one pound, seven shillings for each half acre lot when the court condemned him.

On September 30, 1712, James conveyed 100 acres of Jullican or Galleon Bay to his step-son, Spry Godfrey Gundry, for his natural life (Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin, Volume 30).

Their son, Robert, died and was buried January 12, 1718/19.

In August, 1719 James was reimbursed by the County Court for having cared for the child of Elizabeth Kitchin.

In 1720 Anne (Groome) Felkes (or Phelks) left Anne and James, Taylor's Choice which was 300 acres at the head of the Gunpowder River during their lives. After they died, it was go to to Anne's oldest son, Asacle. She also left personal property to Ann and her children: Asacle, Elizabeth, James, Anne and Robert Maxwell.

In 1724, James contracted with the St. John's Parish Vestry to build St. John's Church at Joppa for 24,000 pounds of tobacco. That year he also have built a brick mansion (the old Rumsey house) with bricks imported from England.

He made his will on January 4, 1727/28 and died the next day on January 5, 1727/28 when he was 67. His death was recorded in the St. John's Parish Register.

At his death he had £1,403.5.9 current money including old books. He had five servants and had enslaved 12 people.

After his death his widow married William Savory who administered his estate.
Gunpowder Neck, was in Baltimore, County but is now in Harford County, Maryland. Joppa was a major seaport and the county seat of Baltimore County from 1712 to 1769. St. John's Parish was in Joppa, but later moved to Kingsville, Maryland. Robins Point, Rickett Point Road, Maxwell Point Road, and Ford Point are south of the current Joppatowne on Gunpowder Neck. Spry Shoal is just off Rickett Point.

Holland's Adventure - in part of Baltimore County, Maryland that became Harford County.
1676 - surveyed for John Holland who assigned it to Francis Watkins who sold it to
Robert Cutchin in 1705.
Robert sold 20 acres to James Maxwell.
Ashael Maxwell inherited those acres and his widow, Hannah, married John Hall who renamed it Hall's Pasture.

Planter is an archaic term for a settler. Plantation was a method of colonization where settlers were "planted" abroad. A plantation is also the kind of large farm that was the economical basis of many American Colonies and owners of these farms were also called planters.

Slavery is an immoral system of forced labor where people are treated as property to be bought and sold. It was legal in the American Colonies and the United States until the Civil War.
King William III (William of Orange) and Mary II ruled Great Britain together from February 13, 1689. Mary died in 1694 and William in 1702.

Lush forests in Colonial America allowed settlers to build wooden homes.

American colonists continued to use British monetary units, namely the pound, shilling and pence for which £1 (or li) equalled 20s and 1s equalled 12d. In 1792 the dollar was established as the basic unit of currency.



from A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature 1635-1789 by Edward C. Papenfuse, et. al.

Maxwell James (1662-1727/28).

Born: in 1662, in Anne Arundel County; only child.
Native: second generation.
Resided: in Baltimore County by 1691.

Family Background

Father: James Maxwell (?-1669/70) of Herring Creek, Anne Arundel County, a planter who immigrated in 1658 and died with at least 200 acres and a personal estate of 22,087 pounds of tobacco.
Stepfather: Patrick Hall (?-by 1679).
Mother: Mary.

first, by 1691, Mary, widow of Benjamin Gundry (?-by 1687). Mary was the daughter of Godfrey Harmer (?-1674), a Swedish Indian trader and interpreter in New Sweden and Maryland who was naturalized in Maryland in 1661, and wife Mary Spry. She was the step-daughter of John Stansby (?-ca. 1682/83). Her sisters were Sarah; Elizabeth.

second,by 1704, Anne, widow of (first name unknown) Richardson. She was probably the sister of Moses Groome; kinswoman of Ann Felk (?-ca. 1720).

James, the elder (?-ca. 1732),who married Mary;
Aseal (Asacle) (?-1729), who married Hannah (1711-1782), daughter of Roger Matthews (ca. 1685-1740);
James, the Younger (ca. 1711-?); and
Robert (?-1718/19).
Spry Godfrey Gundry.

Anne (?-1744), who married in 1737 John Matthews (1714-1783); and
probably Philizana, who married in 1709 Richard Smithers.

Asael, Elizabeth, James, the Younger, Anne, and Robert
were the children of Anne Richardson Maxwell.

Private Career
Education: literate.
Religious Affiliation: Protestant, probably Anglican; contracted with the St. John's Parish Vestry to build St. John's Church at Joppa for 24,000 pounds of tobacco, 1724.

Social Status and Activities: Esq., by 1722;
sons held no known offices.
Maxwell's nine terms in the legislature constitute one of the longest tenures in the Assembly's first century.

Occupational profile: planter; merchant.

Public Career.
Legislative Service: Lower House, Baltimore County,

1694-1696 (resigned before the 6th session of the 1694-1697 Assembly to become sheriff),
1704-1707 (Aggrievances 1, 2, 4, 5, chairman 5; Elections and Privileges 3),
1708A, 1708B-1711, 1714 (elected to the 4th session of the 1712-1714 Assembly),
1715, 1716-
1718, 1719-1721/22 (Aggrievances 1),
1725-1727 (Aggrievances 4).

Local Offices:
justice, Baltimore County, 1690/91-1696, 1706-1727/28 (quorum, 1694-1696, 1706-1727/28;
chief justice, 1715-1727/28);
sheriff, Baltimore County, 1696-1699,

Military Service:
captain, by 1691/92;
major, by 1694;
colonel, by 1706/7.

Stands on public and private issues:
support of the Protestant Associators' Revolution in 1689 brought
him his first appointment to public office.

Wealth During Lifetime

Personal property: headed household of 5 taxables, 1692.

Land at first election: ca. 1,000 acres acquired through marriage to Mary Harmer Gundry.

Significant changes in land between first election and death:
acquired 677 acres by patent, ca. 1,367 acres by purchase, and 150 acres through marriage to Anne Richardson;
sold at least 250 acres, plus land on which the town of Joppa, Baltimore
County, was sited.

Wealth at Death
Died: on January 5, 1727/28, in St. John's Parish, Baltimore County.

Personal Property: TEV, £1,403.5.9 current money (including 5 servants, 12 slaves, and old books);

£977.14.11 current
Land: over 2,000 acres.


from the periodical Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin, February, 1973.

The following data is taken from a chart of the Maxwell family, by Christopher Johnson, on file at the Maryland Historical Society.

1. James Maxwell, of Anne Arundel County, died 1669, He married Mary ?
who married 2) Patrick Hall, of Anne Arundel County, who died 1678.
She married 3) John Spencer living in 1683.

They were the parents of.
2. Colonel James Maxwell, son of James and Mary, was born Nov. 1662, and died 1727/8.

He married 1) a daughter of Godfrey and Mary Harmer. This first wife was the widow of ---Gundry.

He married 2) Ann, sister of Moses Groom, and kinswoman of widow, Ann Johnson, who married Edward Felkes.

Capt. James Maxwell was appointed by the Council of Maryland. to be Ranger in Baltimore Co., from the Falls of Patapsco to the Susquehanna, with six men under him, (Arch. Maryland., VIII, 398).

He was named as a brother-in-law in the will of John Ewings of Balto. Co., in 1709 (Maryland Calendar of Wills, III 145).

He died without leaving a will. His estate was administered by William Savory (Baltimore County Admin. Acts, Liber C, Vol. 137).

By his first wife he had a son James, who died prior to 1733,

His children by his second wife are named in the will of widow Ann Felkes, who died 1719/20, in Balto. Co. (Maryland Calendar of Wills, V, 32).

He was the father of.
a. James (by first wife) died by 1733,
b. Asael, died 1729,
c. Capt. James Maxwell,
d. Robert Maxwell,
e. Elizabeth Maxwell, and
f. Ann Maxwell, died 20 Oct. 1744; married Capt. John Matthews.

In Protestant Revolution of 1689, Maryland Puritans called Associators, revolted against the Roman Catholic government.

From St. John's & St. George's Parish Registers 1696-1851 by Henry C. Peden, Jr.:

Pg 12: Robert Maxwell was buried January 12, 1718/19

Pg 64: Coll. James Maxwell died January 5, 1728


from Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 13 edited by William Hand Browne, Louis Henry Dielman

. . .All of these lands [which belonged to Godfrey Harmer], which lie adjacent to one another at the foot of Gunpowder Neck, excepting Upper Ollives, which lies in Bush River, descended to the Maxwell family through Mary Harmer, daughter of Godfrey Harmer, who married
(1st) Benjamin Gundry and
(2d) Colonel James Maxwell (Patents, Liber E. I. No. 4, folio 187).


from Ancestral Records and Portraits, Volume 1 by Colonial Dames of America. Chapter 1, Baltimore

Colonel James Maxwell, the only child of James Maxwell, was born 1661, and died January 5, 1728, leaving a will, dated that year.

He was a Ranger 1692, and his district was from the Falls of the Patapsco to the Susquehannah; Sheriff, 1693; and Member of the General Assembly, 1694.

He married, first, Mary
second, .

William Savary of Baltimore County, married the widow of Colonel James Maxwell, and administered d.b.n. on his estate, and on that of his son James.

Issue by first marriage, several children. including a son James:

by second marriage, several children also, one being referred to as James the younger.


Alcohol played a significant role in the daily lives of colonists; even children. They feared polluted water and believed in alcohol's nourishing and medicinal properties.

from Archives of Maryland edited by William Hand Browne, Clayton Colman Hall, Bernard Christian Steiner

On Saturday the 16th [1692] Capt Maxwell took eight men with him, and went to Thomas Thurstons where he expected to find that Party of Indians mentioned in the enclosed [letter] from him to me, which came to my hand

in their County, but when he came there, found the Indians had hired a Guide for One good Beaver Skin to convey them about sixteen Miles to One Mr Jacob Lootons a Baltimore County Justice,

where Captain Maxwell and his Party followed them on Sunday Morning, and there they found about seventy two Indian Men, and a hundred Women and Children, who had 8 Guns, and all the rest of their men well furnished with Bows and Arrows at the said Lootons house,

and there they found him [Jacob Looton] in his Store, and full of Indians a dealing with him for Goods, having great Store of Indian Trade therein, which is said to belong to Col Wells and Samuel Groome and that he trades under them,

but I find by Captain Maxwell and some of his Men, that Looton and his Wife gave the English a very unwelcome reception for disturbing their Trade on their Market day as Looton called it. . .

Sir, One Thomas Jones of that County was with Captain Maxwell, and speaks something of most Indian Tongues, & of some Nations as well as the Indians themselves, but could understand very little of these, nor of what Nation they are, but believes them to be a mixt villainous sort of People that rambles up and down to seek who they can devour,

and believes they was never at Lootons house before, he living not many miles from him,

Looton has bought abundance of them as reported, Jones saw him buy

One Beaver Skin for thirty green Apples,
and One for thirty Ears and Nubbins of Corn;

Sir, These Jndians belong to the Frenchman, that I hope is got safe down, who is much enquired after by them, and hope he has made further known of them to your Excellency before this Time,

Captain Maxwell tells me that he did see in One of their hands such a Stick as One of the Two was brought to your Excellency with such Marks upon it, and feathers tyed to the End,

having told him of the two by Description to him as I saw them; and doubtless the Murderers is amongst this very party,

One of these Indians presented a bent Bow and Arrow at the English, at their first coming to Lootons, but was prevented by the rest of his Party as a small inclosed paper mentions by Captain Maxwell, and no doubt but the rest of their party would 'a seconded him, had they been further from the house,

Looton since has convoyed them over Susquehannah River as informed to me . . .

Captain Maxwell examind saith that he was at the said Jacob Lootons house with a Party of Men and desired to speak with him the said Looton, but coud receive no other Ansr from him but that they were his Friends and seemed very Angry with him and his Men for disturbing of him, it was his Market Day and there was an Act coming out to Prohibit any trade with the Indians, and then nothing was to be done without a License &ca

The said Maxwell further saith that the said Lootons Wife was also in great Passion and turned their Horses loose, particularly seeking after the said Maxwells Horse, and immediately went to turn him Loose but as it fell out it was another mans,

Mr Thomas Jones called in and examined saith that the said Looten alledged that Captain Browne had brought those Indians down to him, and that was warrant enough for him to walk by

James Frisell examind saith that the said Looton did declare they had three hundred Beavor Skins, and he must have one half of them

Mr Jones further saith that when the French Prisoner first came in, there was a rumor of these Indians and he himself went to see the French man, but before he came Capt' Richardson had carried him down, that coming to Mr Thurstons the woman there told him they were Delaware Indians whereupon he and the rest of his Company concluded to go to Jacob Lootons, where when they came the said Lootons Wife came out with her Arms abroad crying out hey hoe who are you coming to kill now, and such like discourse

Capt' Maxwell replied that the great Man brought a large Beavor Skin, and declared by the Interpreter they Presented him with a Beavor in expectation of having some Corn,

after twice saying so the said Looton rose up and the Indian called him Fool and gave the Skin which he offerd Looton, to Mr Jones for as much drink as he coud afford for it, which was Four Bottles and some Sugar

Jacob Looton alledges that the Indians declared they brought that as a token of Friendship to deale with the English which the said Jones and Maxwell deny and affirm he said otherwise

It was demanded of Capt' Maxwell what Indian it was that bent his Bow at them

He saith he knows not for the man that told him of it was not come down, but affirms all that he hath said or written to be true.

Ordered that Jacob Looton give Bond or enter into Recognizance with goods and sufficient security to appear at the next Provincial Court, to answer what shall be Objected against him, and in the mean time to be of the good Behaviour, that he be bound in the sum of Five hundred Pounds Sterl, and Bond also to be taken of the Evidence to prosecute against him upon the Act of Assembly of this Province against dealing with the Indians &ca and likewise that Captain Iames Maxwell search the House and Plantations of the said Looton . . .

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©Roberta Tuller 2020
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