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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s


Lady Hannah Maxwell

By Irene Maver

Lady Hannah Maxwell Lady Hannah Maxwell of Pollok married into one of the most influential landowning families in the Glasgow area. She espoused the radical politics of the Maxwells and supported electoral reform at a time when the vote in Scotland was restricted to wealthy men. Born Hannah Ann Gardiner in Swaffham, Lincolnshire, she was the daughter of an army officer. In 1788 she married Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, 7th Baronet (1768-1844), and the couple settled at Pollok House, the 18th century mansion set in their extensive estate to the south of Glasgow.

Mains of Cathcart The family's radical politics were the inheritance of ardent Covenanting forebears from the 17th century. Sir John Maxwell, Lady Hannah's husband, was a flamboyant figure, noted for his dedication to farming, foxhunting and Freemasonry. Politically he was a Whig supporter, believing that constitutional change was essential to open out the democratic base and prevent the threat of revolution. Maxwell's estate included a number of handloom weaving communities and both he and his wife were concerned to alleviate the destabilising impact of economic depression on the workforce.

Pollokshaws Townhouse By the early 19th century the Maxwells were involved in a range of social activities in Glasgow and Renfrewshire. In 1813 Sir John became the first provost of the newly created burgh of Pollokshaws. Between 1832 and 1834 he served as MP for Paisley, and Lady Hannah forthrightly endorsed his campaign for "the rights and liberties of the people". Their daughter Harriet (1789-1841) celebrated her mother (in verse) as "an ultra Reformer, the best in the nation". The Maxwells demonstrated that although women were denied political rights, they could still play a positive role in support of progressive principles.

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