Dmitry Maksutov was from the family of princes of Tatar origin.
Dmitry Dmitrievich Maksutov was born on April 23, 1896, in Odessa, Russian Empire to a naval officer Dmitry Dmitrievich Maksutov Sr. and Elena Pavlovna Efremova, a family with a long and distinguished naval tradition. His great-grandfather, Peter Ivanovich Maksutov, was given the title of prince, thereby raising the family to hereditary nobility as a reward for bravery in combat. His grandfather, Dmitri Petrovich Maksutov, was the last Russian governor of Russian-American Alaska, before it was purchased by the United States in 1867.
Maksutov’s father, a seaman, aroused his son’s early interest in astronomy; and Maksutov made his first observations with a two-inch spyglass which was given to him by his grandfather, to which he fitted a set of eyepieces. When he was about twelve or thirteen he constructed his first reflector, 180 mm. in diameter. Acquainted with the articles of the well-known Russian optician A. A. Chikin, Maksutov made a Newtonian reflecting telescope of 210 mm. with which he began serious observations. Recognizing his enthusiasm and skill, the Russian Astronomical Society elected the fifteen-year-old optician a member.