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About the Author

Henry Dusenbery Maxwell

Henry Dusenbery Maxwell, lawyer and judge, was born in Flemington, New Jersey, on December 5, 1812, the eldest of six children born to John Maxwell.  Educated in public and private institutions, he showed exceptional intelligence and at the age of fifteen began preparing to attend Princeton College.  However, the unexpected death of his father made it necessary for him to support his mother and siblings.  He was hired at the private school of Reverend R. Steel at Abington, Pennsylvania, where, for eighteen months, he prepared men for college.  

Upon returning to Flemington, he began to study law in the office of his first cousin John Patterson Bryan.  He was admitted to the New Jersey Bar in September 1834 and opened a law office in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.  The next year he moved his office to Easton, Pennsylvania.  Maxwell quickly became a successful lawyer and judge.  In 1836, he was allowed to plead a case to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and in 1841 to the Supreme Court of the United States. 
A staunch Whig, he was a delegate to the Whig National Convention at Baltimore in 1844.  In 1848, he was given the office of Deputy Attorney General of Northampton County and was reappointed in 1849.  The next year, due to deteriorating health, he took a less strenuous position as the Consul to Trieste, Austria.  After one year, however, he returned home to continue practicing law.  He was very successful and earned state-wide recognition. 

By 1856, Maxwell’s talent in law was so highly recognized that Governor Pollock nominated him to fill the vacancy left by the death of his brother-in-law, Washington McCartney, as the President Judge of the Third Judicial District of Pennsylvania.  He was reappointed twice and served until December 1857.  He served as Associate Judge of Northampton County from 1857 until the expiration of his term in 1861.

Maxwell played an important role in establishing The Young Men’s Christian Association in Northampton and he served as president for a number of years.  During his lifetime he was also one of the directors of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, a member of the historical society of Pennsylvania, and one of the Vice Presidents of Pennsylvania State Agriculture Society.

On May 9, 1854 Henry Maxwell married Maria Louisa Honeyman in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.  They had four children: Laura, Mary Elizabeth, Lucy Evelyn, and Henry Dusenbery.  Henry Maxwell died on October 3, 1874, followed shortly by his wife, who died on January 26, 1875 in Easton, Pennsylvania.

Please visit the following link for materials authored byHenry Dusenbery Maxwell maintained in the Their Own Words database:

Maxwell, Henry Dusenbery, 1827-1910

Researched, authored, and edited by Margaret Browndorf.

Page created: April 29, 2009                                            close window