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William Maxwell (1732 - 1818):
Cleric, Church of Ireland

William Maxwell was born at Donagh, County Monaghan, eldest son of John Maxwell who would later become Archbishop of Clogher and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he was a Scholar (obtained 1850).  He graduated BA in 1755, the year after he became acquainted with Dr Samuel Johnson; the two quickly became good friends and Maxwell compiled many Johnsonianisms, which were entered into Boswell’s work as Collecteanea and which represent a significant contribution to Johnsonian scholarship.

In 1775 he he was appointed Rector of Mount Temple, County Westmeath, thanks to the intervention of a relative, Henry Maxwell, Bishop of Meath, though he resigned this position in 1780 and spent most of the rest of his life in Bath, England, where he died. Maxwell married twice; the epigram of Johnson, that a second marriage represents the triumph of hope over experience, was recorded by him.

Boswell records that Johnson held Maxwell in high regard; after his death a monument was erected to him in Walcot Church, Bath. The University of Dublin awarded him the degrees of Bachelor of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity in 1777.

He had occupied the family residence, Falkland Castle, in Donagh Parish; after his departure the property had no subsequent owner and fell into ruin. Maxwell, who founded a school at Glaslough, County Monaghan, was the father-in-law through his daughter Anne of Rev Henry Francis Lyte, author of the well-known hymn, “Abide with me”.

Born: 24 August 1732
Died: 3 September 1818
Richard Froggatt
Kate Newmann: Dictionary of Ulster Biography (Belfast, Institute of Irish Studies, 1993); Dictionary of Irish Biography (Royal Irish Academy/ Canbridge University Press, 2009);