Maxwell did not like ordering 1916 executions, says great grandson

Negative impact of executions created great public rising, says great grandson

Lt-General John Maxwell and his entourage inspect British troops after the Rising.

Lt-General John Maxwell and his entourage inspect British troops after the Rising.

 

British commander John Maxwell who ordered the execution of the 1916 rebellion leaders did his duty but personally didn’t like what he had to do, his great grandson has claimed.

Peter Carver, who was born in the USA but now lives in Indonesia, said his great grandfather’s actions were a negative that led to a positive.

Mr Carver told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that his great grandfather had been a career officer in the British army who had quashed other rebellions in north Africa and saw no difference in Dublin in 1916.

“Obviously his actions had a great impact on subsequent events and the eventual freedom that Ireland got.

“What he did had an obvious negative impact which created a great public rising. He viewed what happened as acts of rebellion and in terms of war that required harsh action.”

Following the executions of Pearse, Clarke and MacDonagh, John Redmond warned the British prime minister Herbert Asquith that any more executions would become “impossible for any constitutional party or leader”. Asquith subsequently warned Maxwell that “anything like a large number of executions would... sow the seeds of lasting trouble in Ireland”.

However, Maxwell continued with the executions, even after May 8, when the prominent Irish Parliamentary Party politician John Dillon told him that “it really would be difficult to exaggerate the amount of mischief the executions are doing”.

When asked if his great grandfather had regrets about his actions in later life, Mr Carver said he did not know, but he felt that ordering the executions would have been contrary to his nature and he had done so out of a sense of duty.