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Sir George Maxwell

Burrell Collection Photo Library

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Sir George Maxwell

This oil painting by an unknown artist is believed to portray Sir George Maxwell of Auldhouse (1622-1677).

Sir George inherited Nether Pollok in 1647 from a relative, Sir John Maxwell (d 1647) whose only child, his daughter Isobel, could not inherit as she was female. Shortly after inheriting the estate, Sir George was knighted by King Charles I (1600-1649).

Sir George was a staunch Covenanter, his father and grandfather having been Presbyterian ministers. He permited conventicles (illegal services led by fugitive ministers) to be held at Haggs Castle, and was fined the very large sum of £4,000 for his Covenanting activities. It is said that he often went riding on the moors, claiming to be shooting when in fact he was taking food to Presbyterians in hiding.

Sir George was zealous in his pursuit of witches and took part in witch trials. In 1676 he fell ill with a "hot and fiery distemper" and a dumb serving girl accused a local widow of witchcraft. The widow's house was searched and effigies pierced with pins were found there. The widow, her son, daughter and three other women were arrested, tried in Paisley in 1677 and sentenced to death by burning. Only the 14-year old daughter was reprieved. Sir George died later that year and was succeeded by his only son, John.

Reference: PC 166

Reproduced with the permission of John Maxwell Macdonald

conventicles, Covenanters, Haggs Castle, oil paintings, Pollok Estate, Pollok House, Pollok Park, portraits, witch trials, witchcraft, witches

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