Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Farnham

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Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Farnham PC (c. 1720 – 16 November 1779), styled The Honourable Robert Maxwell from 1756 to 1759, was an Irish peer and a Member of both the Parliament of Great Britain and the Parliament of Ireland.

Background and education[edit]

Farnham was the son of John Maxwell, 1st Baron Farnham and Judith Barry, and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He inherited the Farnham estate in Cavan on the death of his father in 1759. He was appointed High Sheriff of Cavan in 1757.

Political career[edit]

Farnham was elected to the Irish House of Commons for Lisburn in 1743, a seat he held until 1759. Crossing to England he also became Member of Parliament for Taunton at a ruinously expensive by-election in 1754, his father putting up £3,000 which had to be more than matched from the government's "secret service" funds to secure his election. He afterwards described the campaign, in a letter to Lord George Sackville, as "a great deal of smoaking, some drinking, and kissing some hundreds of women; but it was to good purpose... I may venture to say that I have now near 150 majority".

He succeeded as 2nd Baron Farnham on the 6 August 1759. He was created Viscount Farnham on 10 September 1760, and Earl of Farnham on 13 May 1763. He also became a Privy Councillor in Ireland on the 19 September 1760. He remained in the British House of Commons until 1768, being re-elected in 1761 and supporting the governments of Lord Bute and George Grenville, though there is no record of his ever having spoken in the House.


Lord Farnham married twice, firstly in 1759 to Henrietta Cantillon, Countess Dowager of Stafford (died 1761), daughter of Philip Cantillon. They had two children, John (died 1777) and Henrietta (died 1852). He married secondly in 1771 to Sarah, daughter of Pole Cosby. On his death the earldom and the viscountcy titles became extinct, whilst the barony passed to his brother, Barry Maxwell.


  • Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990. (ISBN 033338847X)
  • Lewis Namier, The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (2nd edition - London: St Martin's Press, 1961)
  • Lewis Namier & John Brooke, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1754-1790 (London: HMSO, 1964)
  • Leigh Rayment's Peerage Pages [self-published source][better source needed]
  • Maxwell family genealogy, part 03. showing the Maxwell of Calderwood, Maxwell of Farnham (co. Cavan), and Maxwell of Finnebrogue families.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Ireland
Preceded by
Nicholas Price
Edward Smyth
Member of Parliament for Lisburn
With: Edward Smyth 1743–1759
Succeeded by
Francis Price
Edward Smyth
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
The Lord Carpenter
John Halliday
Member of Parliament for Taunton
With: The Lord Carpenter 1754–1762
Laurence Sulivan 1762–1768
Succeeded by
Alexander Popham
Nathaniel Webb
Peerage of Ireland
New creation Earl of Farnham
Viscount Farnham
Preceded by
John Maxwell
Baron Farnham
Succeeded by
Barry Maxwell