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Maxwell, Winifred

MAXWELL, WINIFRED

Countess of Nithsdale, Catholic noblewoman famous for the rescue of her husband from the Tower of London after the Jacobite rising of 1715; b. c. 1678; d. Rome, 1749. Lady Nithsdale, daughter of William, first marquis of Powis, lived with her husband at the family seat of Terregles until his capture following the Battle of Preston. After leaving Scotland for England and pleading in vain with King George I to pardon her condemned husband, the intrepid countess smuggled female attire to him in the tower, and he succeeded in escaping on Feb. 23, 1716. She then hid her husband in London until he made his flight in safety to France. Returning to Scotland, Lady Nithsdale retrieved the family papers that she had hidden there. In these activities she had incurred great personal risk, and the wrathful George I declared she had "done him more mischief than any woman in Christendom." She joined Lord Nithsdale abroad and they traveled to Rome, where they ended their days in exile.

Bibliography: j. b. paul, ed., The Scots Peerage 9 v. (Edinburgh 190414) v. 6. The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 18851900) 13:136. w. fraser, Book of Carlaverock (Edinburgh 1873). m. scott, The Making of Abbotsford and Incidents in Scottish History (London 1897).

[h. f. gretsch]

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