Sir George Maxwell was born on 9 June 1871, probably at Malacca. In 1891 he was appointed to the civil service of the Malay state of Perak. After working ten years in district posts in Perak and Pahang, he transferred to the Straits Settlements, where he held the appointment of solicitor-general and acted as attorney-general. In 1909, four northern Malay states were transferred from Siamese to British suzerainty, and Maxwell became the first British adviser to the ruler of Kedah.
A series of senior administrative posts in the Malay states and the Straits Settlements followed between 1915 and 1920, culminating in his appointment as chief secretary (administrative head) of the Federated Malay States. Maxwell's achievements were recognized by a knighthood (KBE) in 1924, and he retired in 1926. In retirement, Maxwell commented upon the policies of government, often through 'British Malaya' and other journals. Between 1932 and 1939, he served as vice-chairman of the League of Nations committee on slavery. After the fall of Malaya to the Japanese in 1942, Maxwell chaired a committee that published a defence of its local government from condemnation. He criticised the first post-war attempts at reconstruction, which led to the Malayan Union of 1946, and welcomed its replacement with the Federation of Malaya in 1948.
A copy of Maxwell's article on the proposed Malayan Union of 1946 (10 sheets).