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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Maxwell - Heraldry Information

Maxwell is a rather common surname.  It is known to be Irish, Jewish, and Scottish.  As a Scottish name it is based in a location near Melrose, in Roxburghshire, Scotland.  It was first recorded there as Mackeswell (Mack's spring or stream).  In Ireland, it is based in Ulster where it may have originated as Miskell.  As a Jewish name it was probably adopted from names that sounded similar or individuals preferred to Americanize their surname.  I know that my Maxwell's aren't Jewish.  As a Scottish Gaelic name, the name is written as MacSaul.

When researching the name Maxwell in Scotland, there are some very specific places where the name is found.  Going back to the 12th century Roxburgh Castle, information has been maintained about the Maxwell's or "Max"/Macs as he was referred to.  My plan right now is not to research these Maxwell's in Scotland because I don't know for sure if there is a connection to my family.  It might be convenient if that was the case since it would appear that there is sufficient information online to do some research.

What if James Maxwell was born in Scotland but his parents were from Ireland?  Then, he moved back to Ireland to have his family.  I have no idea if that is the case.  The name Maxwell does have a different origin if the family is truly based in Ireland.  

Maybe someone knows if our Maxwell's are Scottish, Irish, or both.  A few people have responded to my message board posts on Ancestry.com indicating that the name is Scotch-Irish.  That is great but when I look up Scotch-Irish, I find Irish Presbyterian and other Protestants from the Province of Ulster.  I also find the term Scots-Irish.  These terms are so confusing.  The term appears to be the invention of some Americans.  I think I will stay away from that term.  Besides, as best I can tell, my Maxwell's were all Roman Catholic.

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