William Henry Maxwell, obstetric physician, was the only son of Captain William Maxwell, merchant marine, and his wife Mary Elizabeth, born Dobell. He received his schooling at Weymouth College, matriculating in 1893, and continued his studies at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, qualifying as Master of Arts (MA) and Bachelor of Medicine (MB) in 1900. He was admitted as a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians (LRCP) of London and a member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS) of England in 1899, and elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) in 1903. For some years he worked as house physician, house surgeon and resident accoucheur at London Hospital, and as honorary physician at Queen Victoria Hospital and lecturer to nurses.
Maxwell came to southern Africa in 1905, settled in Johannesburg as physician to the Queen Victoria Hospital for Women, and was registered to practice in the Transvaal Colony that same year. Over the next two decades he published, among others, the following papers: 'The diagnosis and treatment of fibroid disease of the uterus', a paper delivered at the South African Medical Congress in 1910 and published in the Transvaal Medical Journal (1910/1); 'Caesarean section, with especial reference to the rarer indications for the operation' (British Medical Journal, 1913); and 'The etiology of puerperal fever' (Medical Journal of South Africa, 1924/5). During World War I (1914-1918) he served in the South African Medical Corps and attained the rank of Major in January 1916. In 1922 he joined the staff of the Johannesburg General Hospital. Upon his retirement in 1936 he was appointed consultant obstetric physician.
In 1905 Maxwell married Gladys Dyer Baker. They had a son and a daughter.