William  Hamilton Maxwell

Hill Street, Newry, Co.Down
Egyptian Arch Newry, Co. Down
Rear View Carlow Castle
Musselburgh Mercat Cross, Scotland
Newry, Co. Down


Maxwell contributed several accounts of Battles among his twenty or more works.  There have been disputed references as to whether or not he actually participated in some of those reported.

There appears to be no information on young William Hamilton Maxwell except that he was born in Newry, Co. Down on 30th June 1792.


He studied at Trinity College, Dublin where he graduated with a B. A. during 1812.  [i]


As his desire to join the Military was opposed by his Family on leaving college, he travelled to the Peninsula.  This enabled him to report on his adventures in articles etc; prior to a return home William Hamilton Maxwell occupied his leisure time with poetry, romantic novels, military histories, hunting or shooting. [ii]


William Hamilton Maxwell decided on a Church Career.  He was ordained in Carlow. He was appointed a Curate of Clonallon during 1813.  William Hamilton Maxwell was posted to Balla, Co. Mayo.

 Publishing Career

Between 1829 & 1848 William Hamilton Maxwell wrote Historical Studies, Novels also Accounts; they included a three – volume Biography of the Duke of Wellington (that was described as “no rival among similar publications of the day,’)  [iii]

Arthur Wellesley (1834 -31), The 1798 Irish Rebellion (1845 illustrated by George Cruikshank), O’Hara 1825 J. Andrews 2 Vols, London, Wild Sports of the West’ 1832, 2 Vols, H. Colbourn, London,  Brian O ‘ Linn or Luck is Everything’ 1847 3 Vols, R. Bentley, London,  ‘Stories of Waterloo’  1834, ‘Erin Go Bragh, or Irish Life Pictures’ Bentley R. with a Biographical Sketch by Dr. Maginn 2 Vols. London: He was a frequent Contributor to the ‘Dublin University Magazine’ also ‘Bentley’s Miscellany.’ Maxwell gathered material for his ‘Wild Sports of the West’ a fictional Biography also an important account of peasant life in North Mayo, Connaught, the ultima thule of civilized Europe..’  [iv]


He married Mary Dobbin, daughter of Armagh M P Leonard Dobbin.  [v]


William Hamilton Maxwell’s Demise occurred on 29th December 1850 in Musselburgh, Scotland.  He was at aged fifty – five years. [vi]


The ‘Dublin University Magazine’ reported of Maxwell that “If a brilliant fancy, a warm imagination, deep knowledge of the world, consummate insight into character, constitute a high order of intellectual gift, then he is no common man.  Uniting with the sparkling wit of his native country the caustic humours and dry sarcasms of the Scotch, with whom he is connected with the  strong ties of kindred, yet his pre – eminent characteristics is that sunshiney temperament which sparkles through every page of his writings.’’ [vii]

In his Notes towards a ‘Bibliography of William Hamilton Maxwell’  Mc Kelvie Colin 1976 Vol. 3 No.1 Irish Bookstore stated that Maxwell wrote his first book, ‘O’ Hara or 1798’ while at the Marquis of Sligo’s hunting lodge in Ballycroy, North Mayo. Mc Kelvie stated also that Maxwell’s history of the Irish Rebellion was surprisingly free of Partisanship; it contained accounts of 1798 also 1803 events from eye witnesses & participants. [viii]

Sutherland John called him ‘a rival for Lever also that Maxwell’s ‘Dark Lady of Doona’ 1834 was a Gothic tale of seventeenth century Ireland; the vogue for bluff military adventures.’  [ix]

Rafroidi Patrick Vol 1 remarked that one of W. H. Maxwell’s stories in ‘Erin Go Bra’ is devoted to Robert Emmet. (Page 136) [x]

In Brown Stephen’s ‘Ireland in Fiction’ 1919 Maunsel Dublin: these titles are  listed ‘O’Hara’ (1825); ‘The Dark Lady of Doona’ 1836, & Fr. trans.; ‘Adventures of Capt. Blake’; ‘the Adventures of Hector O’Halloran and his Man, Mark Antony O’Toole’; ‘The Adventures of Captain Sullivan’’; Erin go Bragh’1859; ‘Luck is Everything, or the Adventures of Brian O’Lynn’ 1860 McCormack, ‘Irish Gothic and After 1820-1945,’ [xi]

Deane Seamus’ s ‘The Field Day Anthology of Irish Literature’ 1991 Vol. II,9 (pages 831 – 854) stated that Maxwell wrote a kind of fiction in which rollicking narrative incorporated incidents of military life & harmless picaresque scenes.’ [xii]

Cleeve Brian & Brady Ann 1845 ‘A Dictionary of Irish Writers 198’5 Lilliput Dublin CITES ‘Life of the Duke of Wellington 1839 – 1841’ 3 vols. ‘History of the Rebellion in 1798’Hints to a Soldier on Service ‘1845; Erin-go-Bragh, or Irish Life Pictures 1859  2 vols.[xiii]

McKenna Brian 1978  ‘Irish Literature, 1800-1875’: ‘A Guide to Information Sources’  Gale Research Co. Detroit lists William Maginn, ‘Literary Portraits No. 6’ 1840 in ‘Bentley’s Miscellany’ 1 rep. as ‘Biog. Sketch of William Hamilton Maxwell’ in Maxwell’s ‘Erin go Bragh.’  [xiv]

Crone J. S. 1906 ‘Northern Whig’ also a preface to the 1915 edition. of ‘Sketches’ & co ed. Earl of Dunraven, who referenced  Maxwell  as ‘an intelligent Anglo – Irishman’ who tackles his subject ‘much as an explorer might visit a newly discovered savage island.’  [xv]

Notes that Maxwell wrote for Charles Dicken’s ‘Pic-Nic Papers’ 1841 also ‘Tales from Bentley’ 1859 as well as’ Dublin University Magazin’e[xvi]


This quotation by is from Wild Sports of the West’ ‘I carried prejudices as unfair as they were unfavourable, found my estimate of their character false, for kindnesses were returned tenfold and the native outbreakings of Kilesion hospitality met me at every step.’ [xvii]


www.mayolibrary.ie › Library Home › Local Studies


[i]   https://en.wikipedia.org

[ii] https://www.libraryireland.com/

[iii]  Ibid

[iv]  www.ricorso.net

[v]   https://en.wikipedia.org

[vi]  Ibid

[vii] https://www.libraryireland.com/

[viii] https://en.wikipedia.org

[ix] Ibid

[x]  Ibid

[xi] Ibid

[xii] Ibid

[xiii] Ibid

[xiv] Ibid

[xv] Ibid

[xvi] www.ricorso.net

[xvii] https://en.wikipedia.org

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