James Maxwell was born in Kilmarnock in 1882. An outside-right, he played for Kilmarnock F. C. in the Scottish League before joining Sheffield Wednesday in 1906. That season he scored 6 goals in 27 games.
Maxwell joined Woolwich Arsenal in May 1908 and made his league debut against Everton on 2nd September 1908. However, he only played one more game against Sunderland at Roker Park before going back to Scotland.