Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, 9th Baronet

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Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, 9th Baronet MP KT, of Pollok FRSE DCL LLD (8 March 1818 – 15 January 1878), was a Scottish historical writer, art historian and politician.

William Stirling-Maxwell

William Stirling-Maxwell.jpg
Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, c. 1870, photograph by Thomas Annan
Member of Parliament for Perthshire
In office
12 February 1874 – 15 January 1878
Preceded byCharles Stuart Parker
Succeeded byHenry Home-Drummond-Moray
Personal details
William Stirling

(1818-03-08)8 March 1818
Kenmure, East Dunbartonshire, Scotland
Died15 January 1878(1878-01-15) (aged 59)
Venice, Italy
Political partyConservative
Lady Anna Maria Leslie-Melville
(m. 1865; died 1874)

(m. 1877; died 1877)
ParentsSir Archibald Stirling
Elizabeth Maxwell
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
OccupationHistoric writer, art historian, politician

Until 1865 he was known as William Stirling, and several of his books were published under that name. He was Chancellor of the University of Glasgow from 1875 until his death and was also a Knight of the Thistle, considered the highest honour that can be conferred by the Crown on a Scotsman.


He was born at Kenmure, the son of Sir Archibald Stirling, Esq., of Keir and Cawder, and Elizabeth Maxwell, sister of Sir John Maxwell, 8th Baronet, and Harriet Maxwell (died 1812) and daughter of Sir John Maxwell, 7th Baronet and Hannah or Anne Gardiner, daughter of Richard Gardiner, of Aldborough, Suffolk.

He was privately educated at Olney in Buckinghamshire[1] then studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating with a BA degree in 1839 and proceeding to MA in 1843.[2] He travelled in Spain and the Levant and contributed to Fraser's Magazine and the Examiner. In 1848 he published his pioneering Annals of the Artists of Spain. He succeeded to the Keir estates in 1847.

In 1849 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh his proposer being John Russell. He served as the Society's vice president from 1871 to 1875.[3]

He served as Member of Parliament for Perthshire from 1852 to 1868 and again from 1874 to 1878. He was appointed a Member of the Universities Commission in 1859 and of the Historical Manuscripts Commission from 1872 to 1878, as well as of the Scottish Education Board (a forerunner to the Scottish Office). He was elected Rector of the University of St Andrews in 1862 and of the University of Edinburgh in 1871.

He succeeded to the Maxwell Baronetcy (in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia) in 1865, assuming the additional name of Maxwell.

He was elected Chancellor of the University of Glasgow in 1875, the first to have been elected by members of the General Council (previous Chancellors having been elected by members of the Senate),[4] and was awarded an Honorary DCL from the University of Oxford in the following year. He was a member of the University of London Senate and a trustee of the British Museum and the National Gallery.

He lived at Keir House near Dunblane.[5] He was a breeder of shorthorns and Clydesdale horses, an ardent bibliographer and collector of works of art.

He died on holiday in Venice on 15 January 1878 but his body was returned to Britain and he is buried in the Lecropt Churchyard near Stirling.[6]

Marriages and issueEdit

He married firstly Lady Anna Maria Leslie-Melville (died 8 December 1874), daughter of David Leslie-Melville, 8th Earl of Leven and Elizabeth Anne Campbell, and had, at least:

  • Sir John Stirling-Maxwell, 10th Baronet, of Pollok
  • Brigadier General Archibald Stirling, of Keir (14 September 1867 – 18 February 1931), married on 14 April 1910 The Hon. Margaret Mary Fraser (25 June 1881 – 4 August 1972), daughter of Simon Fraser, 13th Lord Lovat and Alice Mary Weld-Blundell, and had six children:
    • William Joseph Stirling, of Keir (9 May 1911 – 1983), married on 22 November 1940 Susan Rachel Bligh (12 August 1916 – 1983), daughter of The Hon. Noel Gervase Bligh and Mary Frost and granddaughter of Ivo Bligh, 8th Earl of Darnley and Florence Rose Morphy, and had five children:
      • Archibald Hugh Stirling, of Keir (born 18 September 1941)
      • James Joseph Stirling (1943–1943)
      • Hannah Ann Stirling (born 29 May 1944), married on 7 January 1970 Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 7th Marquess of Salisbury (born 30 September 1946)
      • Magdalen Stirling (born 25 November 1945), married in 1969 Patrick Petit, and had issue
      • John Alexander Stirling (born 26 February 1948), married first in 1971 Susan Black, without issue, and married secondly in 1985 Olivia Louise Waller, and had three children:
        • Joseph Patrick William Stirling (born 1985)
        • Christabel Georgia Stirling (born 1987)
        • Hugh David Archibald Stirling (born 1993)
    • Peter John Stirling (born 1 February 1913), married on 6 February 1963 Mahin Feli
    • Colonel Sir Archibald David Stirling (15 November 1915 – 4 November 1990)
    • Hugh Joseph Stirling (4 May 1917 – k.i.a., World War II, Libya, 22 April 1941), unmarried and without issue
    • Margaret Elizabeth Mary Stirling (4 July 1914 – 9 February 1997), married on 26 June 1940 Simon Ramsay, 16th Earl of Dalhousie (17 October 1914 – 1999)
    • Irene Katharine Teresa Stirling (9 March 1919 – 1992)

In March 1877, Stirling Maxwell married secondly noted author and society figure Caroline Norton, a granddaughter of the famous Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. She died three months later.

Selected publicationsEdit


  • Songs of the Holy Land (privately printed, 1846)
  • An Essay towards a Collection of Books Relating to Proverbs, Emblems, Apophthegms, Epitaphs, and Ana (privately printed, 1860)

As William StirlingEdit

  • Annals of the Artists of Spain (1847)
  • The Cloister Life of the Emperor Charles the Fifth (London: John W. Parker & Son, 1852)
  • Velazquez and his Works (1855)
  • Napoleon's Bequest to Cantillon: a Fragment of International History (1858)

As Sir William Stirling-MaxwellEdit

  • Don John of Austria (two volumes, 1883)

Further readingEdit

  • Enriqueta Harris, Sir William Stirling-Maxwell and the History of Spanish Art (1964)
  • Hilary Macartney, Sir William Stirling Maxwell as Historian of Spanish Art (Courtauld Institute of Art, 2003)


  1. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X.
  2. ^ "Stirling (post Stirling-Maxwell), William (STRN835W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X.
  4. ^ The University of Glasgow Story. Biography of Sir William Stirling Maxwell 9th Baronet
  5. ^ Perth Post Office Directory 1865: List of Noblemen and Gentlemens Country Seats
  6. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X.



External linksEdit

Scottish Parliament
Preceded by
Henry Home-Drummond
Member of Parliament for Perthshire
Succeeded by
Charles Stuart Parker
Preceded by
Charles Stuart Parker
Member of Parliament for Perthshire
Succeeded by
Henry Home-Drummond-Moray
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Lord Moncreiff
Rector of the University of Edinburgh
Succeeded by
The Earl of Derby
Preceded by
Ralph Anstruther
Rector of the University of St Andrews
Succeeded by
John Stuart Mill
Preceded by
The Duke of Montrose
Chancellor of the University of Glasgow
Succeeded by
The Duke of Buccleuch
Baronetage of Nova Scotia
Preceded by
John Maxwell
(of Pollok)
Succeeded by
John Stirling Maxwell