The Maccus Maxwells
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The Everigham Papers and the Constable family
Gerald Constable Maxwell - Chrysler & Stock Broker
Miles, 17th Duke of Norfolk - Obituary 2005
Andrew Constable Maxwell - North Africa war exploits
David Constable Maxwell - letter to the Queen 1958
Gerald Constable Maxwell - 'Air Stories' article 1938

Lord Herries and his 16 children.... In the year 1848 an act of Parliament was passed in favour of William Constable, Esq., and all the other descendants of William, fifth Earl of Nithsdale, reversing the forfeiture of that nobleman; and in virtue of that Act, Mr. Constable Maxwell claimed the dignity of Lord Herries as having been originally conferred on heirs general.

Ten years later, the Committee of Privileges of the House of Lords granted the claim, and in virtue of that decision he became tenth Lord Herries of Terregles, and died in 1876 leaving a family of seven sons and nine daughters, of which the Hon. Bernard Constable Maxwell is the fourth in age. Bernard then married the Hon Alice Fraser moved to Farlie House, Beauly, Inverness-shire.


William, 10th Lord Herries and his 16 children at Everingham, Yorkshire

William Haggerston-Constable of Everingham
When William Maxwell of Nithsdale died in 1777 he left but a single daughter, Winifred. She then became his sole heir and by definition his heir-general. Her inheritance was her grandfather's vast estates of the Earldom of Nithsdale which she placed into the hands of her husband William Haggerston-Constable of Everingham Hall in Yorkshire.. He took the additional name of Maxwell and between them, they gave rise to the vast army of Constable-Maxwells, Constable-Maxwell Stuarts and Constable-Maxwell Scotts that abound today.
The grandson of Winifred, William Constable-Maxwell claimed the title of Lord Herries in 1848 by proving that the title had come to the Maxwell family from the Herries family through right of inheritance of heirs-general although the evidence appears that Mary, Queen of Scots, made Sir John Maxwell of Terragles, Lord Herries as a new creation in 1567. William Maxwell of Carruchan, the then heir-male, contested the claim but lost the case in the House of Lords. The title of Lord Herries has subsequently passed to the family of the Duke of Norfolk as William, Lord Herries' granddaughter who was heir-general to the title, married into that family.
Introduction to 'The Dormant Earldom of Nithsdale' by W. Harold Maxwell (c.1890)

Further reading
There is an interesting website devoted to: Maxwell of Carlaverock, Maxwell of Cavens, Maxwell of Gribton, Maxwell of Kirkhouse, Maxwell of Nithsdale, Maxwell Herries of Terregles. Click here:

Andrew Constable Maxwell

Andrew was David's nearest brother and Hon Bernard Constable Maxwell's 5th son. He had a distinguished war and wrote the following tale which is published in Lord Lovat's memoir 'March Past' (Wiedenfeld and Nicholson, 1978)

By Andrew Constable Maxwell, MC, Scots Guards

War experiences can be boring unless they are your own; then they are fascinating!

The 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, with whom I was serving as a newly arrived junior officer, was strung out behind Rigel Ridge, not far from Tobruk, in an area called ‘Knightsbridge’ – a misnomer and not to be confused with London, SW. Our task, during those mid-June days of 1942, was to engage and hold up an enemy attack during a critical period while the Knightsbridge ‘box’ was being evacuated.

On 11 June, we were most heavily shelled throughout the morning. It did not sound too bad because the sequence of bangs was reversed. First, the crack as the 88 mm shell – hopefully – went over us. Secondly, the explosion as it hit the ground, and only thirdly - the noise from the gun. This was heartening as it gave the impression that these were our shells going towards the enemy! During lunch I was punctured by shrapnel – which brought my morale back to normal. It was only a small fragment and in the back, but no conclusions should be drawn from this. A medical orderly bound it with the army equivalent of Scotch Tape and the only real casualty was my shirt, and I did not retire hurt as the company commander had been killed and his second-in-command was also a casualty.

Unfortunately a telegram went out which caused my family some concern. Two days after this, on 13 June, at about mid-day, a highly alarmed forward observation gunner came hurrying through our line in his armoured car and informed us in the briefest possible terms that a heavy enemy tank force was approaching.

We had adjusted ourselves to this new situation and before long a great number of ponderous grey tanks came into view on our exposed flank. Our anti-tank gun hit a few before being put out of action. It must have been rather frightening for them, as they were bound to be demolished within a few moments of firing their first shot. During the heavy shelling which accompanied all this action, I was impressed by the nonchalance of the desert larks, which flew around in full song, showing no slightest sign of alarm. The other incongruous sound came from our portable gramophone, which kept repeating a currently popular (desert) song called ‘Sand in my Shoe’. All too soon I heard a grinding sound in front of me and over the ridge came the largest tank I had ever seen – no doubt the same size as all the others, but it looked impressive against the sky at about thirty yards’ range. The monster had a look of confidence, power and majesty, and in a fleeting way reminded me of Queen Victoria. It also presented a wonderful camera shot and I reached for the Minox camera which I always – improperly – kept in the breast pocket of my shirt. It was not there and I remembered that when I had last changed the old blood-soaked garment, I had forgotten the Minox – a piece of very bad luck. All unrecorded, the tank lumbered through our position and two hundred yards behind us slowly turned round with grunts and groans to face our rear.

Its gun ended pointing straight at my pick-up truck – understandably, I suppose, because it had an antenna sticking out of its roof and was obviously the company command vehicle. At this late stage, all my modest military training came to my aid and it seemed imperative that I send word back to battalion HQ that our company had been over-run. Causing as little commotion as possible, I crept to the pick-up and managed to get the switch on and pull out the headphones. Then I snaked under the truck and made contact with HQ. Thoughtlessly, I passed a message, ‘Enemy tanks have over-run our position and I have surrendered.’ This seemed a perfectly straightforward and informative message, until I remembered with a shock that officers and men of the Brigade of Guards never surrender. At considerable risk I had to return to the truck and go through the whole process again to cancel the last message and replace it by ‘Enemy tanks have penetrated our position and we are pinned down and surrounded’! The joke being that when I later asked battalion HQ what had been the reaction to my signals, I was told that nobody had any recollection of receiving any message at all.

But to return to the battle. In a few moments worse was to come. The whole area was suddenly full of German infantry. They looked small and purposeful but quite unlike a war image on the silver screen.

There is a moment of euphoria when one realizes that one is still alive but that one’s war is over. I found it interesting that during a period of action, when risks are high and confusion great, one’s various senses become saturated with unaccustomed noises and, particularly, smells – maybe some of them are human fear smells. Certainly feelings are dull in some areas and acute in others. For instance, one discovers all sorts of abrasions, bruises and cuts on elbows and knees, but has no recollection of when these occurred.

The euphoria did not last and while I still had the chance I stowed my oil compass under my hat. It is hopeless trying to move long distances in the desert without a compass, especially at night.

I thought this an appropriate moment to send a final message to HQ, but was dissuaded by the new arrivals, although I pointed out that this was ‘for information only’.

There were some packages of cigarettes lying about on the ground and a German NCO indicated that I could pick them up if I wanted them. This was nearly a sad accident. As I bent down, the heavy compass jumped forward and nearly took my hat off. Fortunately, the strange movement in my cap went unnoticed.

We were herded together and, as some of the men were walking wounded and, inevitably, thirsty, I stopped a great eight-wheeled armoured car and asked for some water. The German officer handed me a jerry-can full of liquid and told me not to use more than necessary, as this was part of his crew’s ration. I observed this strictly and as we parted he gave me a very guards-like salute, which I returned with all the parade-ground skill I could muster.

As it got dark a loud, most ugly-sounding voice called all prisoners to line up. This imminent loss of liberty had a profound, if belated, effect on me – also on my brother officer, Ian Calvocoressi, and we immediately called a conference on the subject of escaping before it was too late. We could not agree on the bearing to follow, so we decided to go our own ways independently. We each took a deep breath – at least, I suppose Ian did – and ran like the devil out into the dark. The last word I heard was a shout from Ian. Later he told me that I was running directly at a sentry. He seemed to see better in the dark than me. His warning proved to be right when at full speed I passed within a few feet of one of the surrounding guards. He took no action whatever and I can only suppose that he had had a wearing day and did not want to start anything. After running about two hundred yards without any lights going up or alarm given, I knew I was out of trouble, and this was the most exhilarating moment I had in the war.

Later that night, as I was passing back through our old position, I saw a crouching figure moving in somewhat the same direction as me. He was small and looked like Ian, but, having got so far, I did not want to take even the slightest risk, so we did not make contact until the following day at our battalion HQ. With my oil compass, I felt very secure. It was rather a long walk, nine hours in all, because I decided not to take a short cut by going through our minefield, but round it. They were all anti-tank mines, so could not be detonated by the weight of a body. But you can never tell, can you?

Days like this made you thirsty. At one point during the night I passed some old earth-works where there had been earlier fighting. In the hope that I might find an abandoned water container, I went into a deep dug-out, but suddenly I had such a strong feeling of people all around me, and the atmosphere was so spooky, that I resisted the need for drink and kept going.

The next surprise was to see a light in the distance. I thought of every possible solution to account for it, and eventually, out of curiosity, crept up and found the source was the luminous dashboard of a crashed aircraft. In due course I got back to the battalion and was greeted by ‘Why the hell did you take so long?’ At least I made it several hours before Ian, which proved my superior desert craft! Ian later had a good story that during the night he had seen a crouching figure moving and peering in all directions, which he rightly took to be me. He was able and willing to demonstrate my action in a way which was considered humorous to anybody who cared to watch!

Footnote - in October 2006 Kit Constable Maxwell (nephew) and friends visited the North African desert to follow the route of the LRDG raid on Fort Murzuq. The 1940 raid was led by Major Clayton with Capt Michael Crichton-Stuart, Scots Guards. This expedition was the subject of Kit's lecture at the Victory Services Club, April 2007.

Extract from 'The Everingham Papers' lodged at Hull University

The last residents of Everingham Park were Jennifer (née Constable Maxwell) and her husband Christopher Newton in the 1970's. The owner Anne Herries, daughter of Bernard, 16th Duke of Norfolk, has now sold the house.

In 1756 William Haggerston Constable commissioned John Carr of York to build Everingham Park on the site of the Elizabethan house of the Constables. He also united the families of Constable and Maxwell by marrying Lady Winifred Maxwell and their heirs became the Constable Maxwell family of Everingham with estates in Scotland belonging to the earls of Nithsdale and barons Herries.
Winifred Maxwell could trace her history back to Undwin and his son Maccus in the eleventh century; Maccus gave his name to the barony of Maccuswell, or Maxwell. His grandson, John de Maccuswell (d.1241), was first Lord Maxwell of Caerlaverock.
The baronies of Maxwell and Caerlaverock then passed down through the male line, sometimes collaterally. Robert de Maxwell of Maxwell, Caerlaverock and Mearns (d.1409) rebuilt Caerlaverock castle and was succeeded by Herbert Maxwell of Caerlaverock (d.1420) who married Katherine Stewart.
Their son, also Herbert Maxwell (d.1454) married a daughter of Herbert Herries of Terregles. He was created Lord Maxwell and this title passed down through the male line. John, 4th Lord Maxwell, was killed at Flodden in 1513 and his son, Robert, 5th Lord Maxwell (d.1546) was warden of the western marches and his commission by James V as master of the royal household is in the collection. His eldest son, Robert became 6th Lord Maxwell (d.1552) and his second son, John Maxwell (d.1582), married Agnes Herries, sole heiress and eldest daughter of William, 3rd Lord Herries and he became 4th Lord Herries of Terregles.
Both sides of the family were Catholic. Robert, 10th Lord Maxwell raised troops for Charles I through the 1620s and was created 1st Earl of Nithsdale. He was on the Scottish privy council and became an anti-Covenanter. He died in 1646, leaving behind one son, Robert, 11th Lord Maxwell and 2nd earl of Nithsdale, who negotiated with General Monck and Charles II. He died without ever marrying in 1667 to be succeeded by John Maxwell, 7th Lord Herries when co-lateral lines of the family rejoined.
John Maxwell, became 12th Lord Maxwell, 7th Lord Herries and 3rd earl of Nithsdale. His grandson, William Maxwell, 14th Lord Maxwell, 9th Lord Herries and 5th earl of Nithsdale (1676-1744) was a Jacobite whose wife dressed him in women's clothes to effect his escape from prison. They fled to the continent and spent the rest of their lives in exile. Lady Winifred Maxwell's account of her husband's escape is in the collection at Hull Library.

Their grand-daughter, Winifred Maxwell, married William Haggerston Constable and he assumed the name of Maxwell. Their son, Marmaduke Constable Maxwell (1760-1819) divided the Scottish estates between his sons. William Constable Maxwell (1804-1876) became 10th Lord Herries and was responsible for building the Italianate Catholic chapel next to the house at Everingham.
His brother Marmaduke Constable Maxwell was a Tory patron and builder of a Catholic chapel at Dumfries. Marmaduke Constable Maxwell, 11th Lord Herries (1837-1908) married Angela Mary Charlotte Fitzalan Howard who was the daughter of Edward George Fitzalan Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Glossop and 2nd son of the 13th duke of Norfolk (1818-1883). His brother, William Constable Maxwell (1841-1903) was responsible for having The book of Carlaverock privately printed and a copy of this rare item is in the collection.
Marmaduke and Angela Constable Maxwell had only one daughter, Gwendolen Mary, who inherited from her father the Herries title and nearly 20,000 acres of land evenly split between her English estates in the East Riding and Lincolnshire and her Dumfries Shire estates in Scotland which included Caerlaverock castle. She became the second wife of Henry Howard, 15th duke of Norfolk in 1904. Their son, Bernard Marmaduke Howard (1908-1975) became 16th duke of Norfolk.
When she died in 1947 he also became Lord Herries. He was minister of agriculture between 1941 and 1945 and married Lavinia Mary Strutt. They only had daughters and the duchy passed to Miles Frances Stapleton Fitzalan Howard, son of Bernard Edward 3rd Lord Howard of Glossop and Mona Joseph Tempest Stapleton of Broughton Hall and Carlton Towers (see Beaumont family).

Major Gerald C Maxwell.

From “Air Stories”
July 1939. volume 9. number 1

Article entitled – THIS FIGHTER WON FAME
Flight-Commander in the Famous 56 Squadron and Fighting Companion of Albert Ball, Major Gerald C Maxwell Scored 27 Victories in the War in the Air, and survived one of the most amazing crashes in the history of his Squadron.
By A.H. Pritchard.

Some months ago the biography of Captain A.P.F. Rhys-Davids appeared in this magazine and among the letters of appreciation received by the writer was one from a former squadron-mate of Rhys-Davids, Major Gerald C Maxwell, M.C., D.F.C., A.F.C. By a curious coincidence, the writer received in the same post several requests for Major Maxwell’s biography, but, lacking sufficient reliable information, was not then able to accede to them. Now, thanks, to the kind co-operation of Major Maxwell himself, who loaned the writer his diaries and log-book, it is possible to recount the true story of this distinguished air fighter who is officially credited with the destruction of twenty-seven enemy aircraft.

Born at Fairlie House, Inverness, on September 8th 1895, Maxwell came from a family of famous soldiers, his Uncle, Lord Lovat, having formed the yeomanry???
Company which bore his name during the Boer War. When the Great War came, Maxwell, as was to be expected, left his studies at Cambridge and took a commission in the Lovat Scouts, in which company he added fresh glory to the family name at Suvla Bay, Galipoli, when, with all his superior officers put out of action, he took command with outstanding success.

After a tour of duty in Egypt, he returned home, and, on September 20th, 1916 transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, where he startled his instructors by going “solo” after only twelve minutes of “dual” instruction. Advance training on Moranes, at the Central Flying School, Upavon, followed, and on March 12th, 1917, he went to London Colney, where the soon-to-be famous 56 Squadron was preparing its S.E.5’s for the great arena.

Orders for France were received on April 6th, and at 11am on the following day the Squadron began its flight to St. Omer and, once there, the pilots had practically to rebuild their machines. In its factory form, the S.E.5 had a large celluloid cover over the cockpit (one of to-day’s “new” ideas), but these restricted vision and so were soon removed. The Lewis gun on the top plane was also badly fitted and could only be fired upwards, so this, too, was “tinkered” with and raised about 2.5 inches to enable it to fire over the propeller top, its fire then converging with that of the Vickers about 50 yards in front of the machine’s nose.

By the 22nd of April the machines were ready, and Maxwell had the honour of accompanying Captain Albert Ball on the first flight up to the lines, but, as strict orders had been issued that no S.E.5 was to cross, it was not until the 24th that he made his first offensive patrol.

During the early afternoon, Ball led “A” flight in a patrol between Douai and Cambrai, and, soon after crossing the lines, Maxwell and Second Lieutenant C.R.W. Knight dived on an Albatros Scout. Knight overshot, but Maxwell came down to within ten yards of the German’s tail and opened fire with both guns. The Albatros began to spin and eventually crashed near Hamel, and Maxwell had made a brilliant start to his distinguished career.

Four days later, he had a miraculous escape from death during a fight with several Albatros Scouts over Fontaine. Here is the account as given in the Squadron History: “At about 12,000 feet Maxwell had been hit by Archie in the engine and elevator control and began to glide back with practically no elevator control over his S.E.5. He hit the ground at about 140 m.p.h. near Combles, where it was covered with trenches and shell-holes. The whole front of the machine, including the engine, broke off. The rest of the aeroplane, with Maxwell in it, bounced along for nearly a hundred yards and was smashed to pieces. Maxwell emerged quite uninjured”

On May 5th, Maxwell, Knaggs and Ball were patrolling the Arras-Cambrai road when they sighted eight Albatros Scouts over Reincourt, and the three S.E.5’s immediately climbed above the German formation. Maxwell flew so close to his chosen opponent that he actually saw the pilot’s body jerk and fall forward as the bullets entered it, and the Albatros hurtled down into Sauchy-Lestree. In the meantime, Ball had downed a two-seater, and as both Knaggs and Maxwell had trouble with their guns, the trio landed on the aerodrome of No. 23 Squadron at Baizeux. Ball and Maxwell took-off again and were about to dive on a pair of two-seaters when they were attacked by four red Albatros Scouts from Richthofen’s Staffel. More enemy machines also came up, but despite the fact that both had gun stoppages, Ball and Maxwell managed to extricate themselves from a very tight corner and return home slightly shot up, but otherwise unhurt.

The Menace of the Gothas
When Ball was killed on the 7th, Maxwell was appointed temporary Flight Commander, and on the 11th he celebrated his promotion by shooting the wings off an Albatros near Pont-a-Verdin, and another over Lens on the following morning. Captain Prothero relieved him on the 14th, and five days later he returned home to enjoy a well-earned leave.

Returning to France on June 4th, in time for the battle of Messines, he shot down an Albatros two-seater on the 15th for his fifth victory, but did not score again until late in July, for 56 Squadron was recalled to England to combat the Gotha menace and Maxwell enjoyed another fortnight in England.

Back again in France, the Squadron found that the enemy scouts were becoming even more numerous, and on July 20th a large formation of Albatros were encountered between Houthulst Forest and Roulers, two of which fell to Maxwell’s guns.

Six days later “A” Flight had to mourn the loss of its leader, Captain P.B. Prothero, who had his wings shot off by an Albatros. During the same flight Maxwell destroyed a Rumpler two-seater, and on the following day was appointed to the vacant command. August brought him victory after victory, two scouts over Menin on the 18th, two more on the 21st, and another on the following day bringing his score up to fourteen.

September saw an improvement in the weather, and the enemy were in the air from dawn to dusk especially around Houthulst Forest, where Maxwell and R.T.C. Hoidge each accounted for an Albatros on the 11th. On the 16th. “A” Flight were on escort duty to a bomber squadron, and had reached Hoogledge when the inevitable scouts appeared. Within a few seconds these were joined by a formation of fast two-seaters and the fun waged fast and furious. The S.E.5’s, however, put up a stiff resistance, and the Germans eventually drew off minus two of their number, a scout having been destroyed by Hoidge and a two-seater by Maxwell. The bombers reached their objective and returned without loss.

Maxwell’s victories continued to mount. Another two-seater went crashing to earth behind its own lines on the 20th, still another fell in flames on the next day, a Pfalz fell, near Staden , on the 28th, and on the 30th he scored a particularly memorable victory. At dawn on that day the Squadron’s bag had reached 198 and there was keen rivalry between the flights to gain the coveted 200. “B” Flight failed to sight any E.A. in this patrol and late in the day Maxwell led his men out to try their luck. It was with considerable elation that they piled into an unwary Albatros formation over Comines, and they reached the “double century” through Lieutenant R.A. Mayberry, who bagged No. 199, and Maxwell, who made it the round figure by shooting the wings of a green and silver machine.

Air Fighting Instruction
On October 21st. Maxwell was called home and placed in command of instruction at the School of Aerial Fighting, Turnberry, where he served with remarkable success until he managed to persuade his superiors that he required a “refresher course” in France. After much sorting of red tape he was eventually “released” in mid-June, 1918, and allowed to return to the Front for five weeks.

He soon showed that he had lost none of his old skill and daring during his absence, for, during the course of his second patrol on June 16th he attacked a trio of two-seaters and crashed one near Hamlincourt. The remaining two hurriedly made off, but Maxwell had not yet finished with them, and catching them up, he downed another on the outskirts of Wavcourt. The 27th. found him in the thick of a dogfight over Peronne, during which he shot down a Fokker Triplane, and on the following day, during a distant offensive patrol over Dompiere, the Squadron destroyed four scouts, one, an Albatros, giving Maxwell his 25th victory.

On the first day of the new month Maxwell went out with Captain C.M. Crowe, and, north-east of Albert, they met a formation of the much-advertised Fokker D.7’s. These crack machines held no terrors for men of their experience, however, and they both returned home with another scalp to add to their collections.

During the afternoon of July 5th, Maxwell was notified that he must return to England, and an hour after receiving the message he took-off for a last fling at the enemy. Hostile aircraft were conspicuous by their absence and Maxwell had to fly as far as Dompiere before a chance presented itself. A Fokker d.7 was climbing through a low cloud when the S.E.5 came down like a thunderbolt, and before the unfortunate German could recover his scattered wits, his machine began to break up around him.

Flying in the U.S.A.
After the Armistice, Maxwell went to America in March 1919, to take part in the advertising of the great Victory War Loan, and some of the machines he had to fly were more dangerous than the bullets of the German war-birds had been. With a motley collection of old S.E.5’s, D.H.4’s, D.H.9’s, and surrendered Fokker D.7’s he and his men gave exhibitions throughout every State in the Union, and no doubt, enjoyed themselves immensely. Returning once more to England, he joined the Staff of the Air Ministry, where he remained until his retirement from the Service.

To-day, as a respected member of the Stock Exchange, he copes as successfully with Bulls and Bears as he once did with temperamental Hissos or the mechanisms of Vickers guns, but the years have treated him lightly and, no doubt, he will be ready to be “up and doing”, should war once again reach into the skies above England.


BOSWORTH HALL at Husbands Bosworth

By Susan Turville-Constable Maxwell

The impressive stately home of Bosworth Hall actually comprises two houses, the Old Hall, and the 'new' Georgian Hall, together with various Victorian additions and sits in parkland on the eastern edge of the village.

Since 1632 it has been the home of the following families: Fortescue (1632 1763) Fortescue-Turville (1763-1900) Turville-Petre (1907-1945) Turville-Constable Maxwell (1945 to present day) all of them Roman Catholic.

As first recorded, the Old Hall was owned by the de Stoke family (from about 1293-1537) and by the Smiths, amongst others, until 1632. Erasmus Smith was certainly living there from 1570-1616 and is noted as being particularly wealthy. It therefore seems likely that he carried out many of the Elizabethan alterations.

The structure of the original Norman building which the Smiths inhabited, was supported by wooden 'crucks' (a wooden scaffold set into the ground providing support to walls and roof), one of which can still be seen in the cupboard off the main entrance hall. The fireplace of this early building can still be seen in the cupboard in the passage leading from the sun-room to the hall. The position of this fireplace shows that the original house would have extended westwards, towards the church.

Further evidence of the old Norman house can be seen in the wattle and daub around in the cupboard in the panelled landing room on the first floor. There are other features still visible, like some original Elizabethan stained-glass windows in the upstairs rooms and downstairs small sitting room, next to sun-room. These show the Coats of Arms of England, Scotland and Ireland, along with some family arms particularly those of the Smith family.

After the demise of the Smith family, Bosworth was bought by Lady Grace Fortescue, (née Manners of Hardwick Hall), widow of Sir Francis Fortescue of Salden, in Buckinghamshire, who came to live at Bosworth with her son, William. She was a recusant, and refused to join the new Church of England faith. Thus began the long line of Catholic inhabitants.

The Fortescues had refused to support Henry VIII when he abolished the Church of England. This he was famously forced to do after being excommunicated by the Pope for divorcing his first wife Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII inflicted severe penalties on those who refused to convert, and it was a dangerous time for Roman Catholics. Fines were imposed on those who refused to take the oath and the death sentence was carried out on many occasions. These included two of Robert Turville-Constable Maxwell's ancestors, Sir Thomas Moore and Sir (Blessed) Adrian Fortescue who were executed for refusing to support Henry's church.

In one 10-year period around this time, 252 Jesuit priests had entered England from France and more than half of them were captured and executed. The Fortescues continued to celebrate Mass in secret in the drawing room - still known as the chapel room - and on one occasion an urgent message came to warn the priest that a raiding party of soldiers was on the way. In his haste to clear away the evidence of the service and escape, he upset the chalice containing the consecrated wine. This has left a damp stain on the chapel room floor, which can be seen to this day. Furthermore, at about this time, in 1657, Anne, widow of Grace's grandson, Charles Fortescue was enrolled on the 'Great Roll of recusants' and indicted to appear before Leicester courts for 'Popish' practices. Perhaps fortunately for her, she died just five weeks before her trial, though a document dated 1658 cleared her name.

It is quite possible that these two events were connected, and certainly they underline the risk all practising Catholic's took. In the chapel room, the damp stain remains, and you can still see the hinges on the panelling where the altar once was. Behind this panel the wall backs onto a deep cupboard, containing the cruck. It is thought that the priest would have made his way up through this cupboard into another immediately above. Then he would have crossed the first floor to enter the hiding hole through the thickness of the wall (which still sounds hollow) to the right of the cupboard in the house keepers room. The curved back of the sitting room cupboard can still be seen from the hiding hole in the attic.

Off the main entrance hall, halfway up the north stairs, there is an internal Victorian window illustrating some of Aesop's Fables, with The Boy Who Cried Wolf in centre left. Further up the stairs, you can see beams from the original wooden house, which show that the original house would have had an overhang, while the 'new' house was extended further out on the east side. At the top of the south staircase, there are two painted wooden hatchments. These are the coats of arms of the Fortescue-Turville family, with the Turville dove and the olive sprig in its beak, and the Shrewsbury coat of arms.

In 1763, Maria Alethea Fortescue died unmarried, and the house passed to her 11 year-old cousin Francis Turville. Francis added the Fortescue to his name. Like many of the wealthier Roman Catholics of the time, Francis was educated in France. In 1780 he married Barbara Talbot, sister of the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury. They spent much of their time in France but decided to return to England and took up residence at Bosworth in 1790. As the French Revolution loomed, life in France was becoming increasingly difficult and moreover, with the passing in 1778 of the first Catholic Relief Act, life in England was easier for Catholics. [A second Relief Act was passed in 1791. However, the granting of full Catholic Emancipation did not come until 1829].

The Turville family had come to England with William the Conqueror, and lived firstly at Normanton Turville, and later from c1530, at Aston Flamville, near Hinckley. Francis's uncle, Carrington Francis, a bachelor, gave Aston Flamville to the Dominican order of Catholic missionaries in exchange for a brace of greyhounds.

When Francis and Barbara returned to Bosworth it was very run-down and they started to undertake major restoration works. In 1799 this included building the Georgian House which adjoined the back of the Old Hall through a door, known as the 'friendship door'. Joseph Bonhomi drew up the original plans for this addition. He suggested pulling down the Old Hall and building a completely new house. Luckily this plan was never implemented - the most likely reason being a shortage of funds! Francis had hoped to sell some land nearby in Rothwell, but was refused permission to do so, presumably because of his religion. In the event, John Wagstaff designed the main part of the new Georgian House. Francis also laid out the Park and the Shrubbery and planted many trees.

George Fortescue-Turville, son of Francis, extended the Georgian house in 1832 with the addition of the bay that is now the drawing room. George married Henrietta von der Lacken who was maid of honour to the Grand Duchess Alexandrina, daughter of the King of Prussia, Frederick William III. George died and his son, Francis, inherited in 1859. His first action was to fulfil a promise to his father, and in 1873 built a church in the park decorated in the fashionable Victorian Gothic style. He married Adelaide, (widow of Baron Lisgar) in 1881, when he was 50 and she was 74! She refused to change her name, despite the fact that Francis was knighted in 1875, and she would have still been titled.

Lady Lisgar, as she was always known, spent freely on Bosworth, building a new kitchen at the north end of the Old Hall and adding a large dining room on the same end of the Georgian House. She added the inner library, which can be seen between the two houses on the south side. The large stained glass windows in the hall of the Old Hall were also inserted and show, from left to right, the coats of arms of the Fortescue-Turville, von der Lacken (George's wife), Shrewsbury (George's mother), and Lisgar families.

Francis Fortescue-Turville died in 1881 but Lady Lisgar lived on until 1902. However, Francis's sister, Mary, was still living at the house until 1907. Although there is no recorded animosity between the two it is known that Mary slept in the Old Hall and Lady Lisgar in the added Victorian wing.

In 1907 the house passed to Oswald Petre, a cousin of Francis. He took on the name 'Turville' to ensure the continuity of the Turville family at Bosworth, and thus became Turville-Petre. Oswald died in 1941, but his widow, Margaret (née Cave) continued to live at Bosworth.

The Old Hall was let to various families during the Second World War. An army camp had been established in the park, where, amongst others - many Americans were based prior to the battle of Arnhem. At the end of the war, Margaret decided to hand on Bosworth to the next generation. However, her eldest son, Francis, had already died (1940 in Cairo) and her younger son, Gabriel, was a professor of Icelandic at Oxford, and had no wish to take on such a large house. Accordingly, her daughter, Alethea and her husband, David Constable Maxwell, came to live at Bosworth in 1945, and added the 'Turville' to their name.

Alethea and David took on a very different house from the one her parents had lived in - the days of 16 gardeners had long since gone. Bosworth had been used as an army barracks during the war and was extremely run down. Alethea recalled hearing rats running through the thickness of the walls and the roof was full on nesting starlings! Progressively, the Hall was restored and the remains of the barracks in the park were pulled down.

One of the Nissen huts was saved, and placed inside part of the large Victorian dining room to subdivide it. Parts of this Nissen hut still remain. There was dry-rot in the Victorian kitchen which was subsequently pulled down, and it was at this time that the Old Hall was divided off as a completely separate house and let out.

In 1976 David and Alethea moved into a flat in the top of the Georgian House but spent much of their time near Beauly in Inverness-shire, where the Constable Maxwells originated. Their eldest son, Robert and his wife, Susan (née Gaisford St Lawrence) then moved into the Georgian house with their three children. The main contribution to the house that they have made is to further subdivide the Victorian dining room, (previously known as the coldest room in Leicestershire) into a kitchen and boot room.

The present incumbent, Robert Turville-Constable Maxwell is a Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire, and was High Sheriff of the county in 1991/2. He is Chairman of Leicestershire Clubs for Young People, and of the Husbands Bosworth & District Branch of the Royal British Legion.

This history of Bosworth Hall was compiled by Susan M. Turville-Constable Maxwell in February 2001