James Francis Maxwell was born in Ireland on 16th December 1902 at Ballynahinch
County Down. He was educated at St Malachy's College Belfast
and St Peter's College Wexford before attending Oscott Seminary
College in Birmingham. He was ordained a priest on 16th June
1927 in St Colman's Cathedral in Newry by Bishop Edward Mulhern
of Dromore specifically for missionary work in Scotland for
the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.
His first posting in Scotland was, unusually, not a metropolitan
parish as was customarily the case with new priests coming to
a new country. Instead Fr. Maxwell's first posting in Scotland
was to St Alexander's in Denny where he served from 1927 to
1928. He was then transferred here to St Patrick's Kilsyth for
the period between 1928 and 1931 as assistant Priest to Canon
MacNamara (later Monsignor MacNamara) who was the Parish
Priest in Kilsyth at that time.
Fr Maxwell was promoted to Parish Priest and given the parish
of The Sacred Heart in Penicuk, Midlothian where he served for
only 2 years from 1931 to 1933. He was then transfered to Our
Lady Star of the Sea at North Berwickin East Lothian from 1933
to 1935. It is apparent from the Catholic archive in Edinburgh
that Fr Maxwell was in poor health for much of his life as he
was given sick leave for several years on a couple of occaisions.
His first extended period of ill health came in 1935 and he
was given sick leave for 4 years! On his return to priestly
duties he was obviously still in fragile health as he took the
unusual step of returning as an assistant Priest in the Parish
of the Immaculate Conception in Bathgate for a year, 1939 to
Fr Maxwell then became the Chaplin of the Oratory of St Anne's
in Randolf Place Edinburgh for another year 1940-41 before taking
10 years of sick leave from duties as a Priest from 1941 to
1951. Fr Maxwell returned into Priestly life in the Glasgow
Archdiocese as the assistant Priest at St Charles' Paisley from
1951 to 1954. His final posting was as the Chaplin to the Convent
of The Sisters of Mary Reparatrix at Elie in Fife where he served
the sisters from 1956 until his retirement in 1965. It may be
that after so long in ill health Fr Maxwell found too demanding
the life of a parish Priest, however he seemed able as a chaplin
the the more gentile and prayerful surrounding of convent life.
Fr. Maxwell died in 1979 at the age of 77 after having spent
52 years as a Priest. May he rest in Peace.
Rev James Francis Maxwell – 17th October 1979
Father James Francis Maxwell was born in the Parish of Drumaroad,
County Down, Ireland on the 16th December 1902. He went to school
at St Malachy’s Belfast, after which he spent a short
time with the Salesians before going to Wexford and later to
Oscott College in England to study for the priesthood. He was
ordained priest in the Cathedral at Newry on 16th June 1927.
His first appointment after coming to the Archdiocese of St
Andrews and Edinburgh was as curate at St Alexander’s
Denny. He was at Denny for two years before being transferred
to St Patrick’s Kilsyth as curate. Here he remained until
his first appointment as Parish Priest to the Sacred Heart in
Penicuik in 1932. In the following year he went as Parish Priest
to Our Lady Star of the Sea at North Berwick. In 1935 it was
necessary for him to be given sick leave from which he did not
return until 1939, when he went as curate to St Mary’s
Bathgate. After two years it became necessary for him to go
on sick leave once again, from which he did not return until
1955. He was then appointed as chaplain to the Convent of Marie
Réparatrice, Elie where he served until his retiral to
The last two years of his life, when he became a complete invalid,
were spent in the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor at
their Holy Family Home in Roebuck in Dublin. It was there that
he died on Wednesday, 17th October. The burial took place on
Friday, 19th October, in the cemetery of the parish church in
his native Drumaroad.
At the Requiem Mass that preceded the burial, Bishop Monaghan
recalled some of the qualities of this talented priest. He had
the gift of eloquence both in and out of the pulpit. The faithful
who had benefited from his preaching, long remembered with gratitude,
the help they had received from him in this way. During his
chaplaincy at Elie, he was a great help to the sisters in their
retreat work. He did much to further and support the apostolic
work of the sisters.
His charming manner ensured a happy relationship with others.
He was interested in people and prepared to give them his time.
This meant that he had many friends, who did not easily forget
the warmth and sincerity of his friendship.
The Little Sisters who attended him in his last years were very
edified by his patient acceptance of his illness, the happiness
of his spirit that shone through his bedridden condition and
his constant spirit of prayer.
The requiem Mass was attended by a considerable number of priests
from the Parishes in that area, together with a full church
of parishioners. May he rest in Peace.
By kind permission of The Scottish Catholic Directory, 1980
edition, pages 421 and 422.
The Church yard of St John The Baptist Drumaroad - Fr
Maxwell's final resting place.