MAYNARD, Henry (aft.1547-1610), of St. Albans, Herts.; later of Little Easton, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer




Family and Education

b. aft. 1547, 2nd s. of John Maynard of St. Albans, being 1st s. by his 2nd w. Dorothy, da. of Robert Parrott of Oxford, wid. of John Bridges. m. Susan, 2nd da. of William or Thomas Pierson, 8s. 2da. Kntd. 1603.1

Offices Held

Sec. to Sir Nicholas Bacon; to Lord Burghley by 1582; j.p. Essex from c.1592, commr. musters from 1599, sheriff 1603-4, dep. lt. 1603, surveyor crown lands by 1606, custos rot. from 1608; surveyor musters, Ireland Oct. 1598, muster master gen. for life Dec. 1604.2


Maynard’s father became steward of his home town of St. Albans when it was first granted a charter in 1553, retaining the office until his death in 1556. He possessed a good deal of ex-monastic land in St. Albans. He left Henry next to nothing in his will. Maynard himself, when still a young man, entered the service of his kinsman by marriage, Sir Nicholas Bacon, and at the time of Bacon’s death in 1579 had risen to be his confidential secretary. By 1582 he was employed by Bacon’s friend and colleague Lord Burghley and thenceforth Maynard sat in every Elizabethan Parliament. He was five times returned for his local borough of St. Albans until by 1601 he had achieved sufficient status to obtain one of the Essex county seats. As with others members of the secretariat he played no prominent part in the business of the Commons. No intervention in debate has been recorded, and his first recorded committee concerned recusancy (4 Apr. 1593). In 1597 he was appointed to committees concerning horse-stealing (16 Nov.), double payments on shop books (2 Dec.), a private bill (9 Dec.) and Great Yarmouth (31 Jan. 1598). Those in 1601 included privileges and returns (31 Oct.), the penal laws (2 Nov.), the main business committee (3 Nov.), procedure (11 Nov.), painters and stainers (24 Nov.), fustians (4 Dec.), charitable uses (12 Dec.) and cattle stealing (12 Dec.). As knight for Essex in 1601 he was eligible to attend committees on the clothworkers (18 Nov.) and monopolies (23 Nov.). He has a place in history as the chairman of the subsidy committee of 7 Nov. 1601, when, ‘by the consent of the whole House’ he put on his hat to register the committee’s orders. Maynard was mistakenly referred to as Anthony on this occasion.3

During the last years of Burghley’s life Maynard was one of his two leading secretaries. Michael Hickes acted as patronage secretary, while Maynard concerned himself with ‘matters of state’. Thus contemporaries regarded him as the more important of the two, sometimes referring to him as ‘principal’ or ‘chief’ secretary. He masterminded the activities of Sir Horatio Palavicino, as envoy to France and Germany in 1590 and 1591, ensured that Palavicino received letters to the French king and German princes, drew up detailed instructions and drafted Burghley’s letters to the envoy. Between 1590 and 1594 he was immersed in the business of the Netherlands, seeing to the supply of ordnance and corresponding with Sir Edmund Uvedale, marshal of Flushing, and with Thomas Bodley, the English ambassador. He also dealt with Irish and Scottish business, making arrangements for transporting money to Ireland in 1582 and assisting Burghley to draw up the proclamation against Tyrone in 1595. Letters, information and messages dealing with Ireland passed frequently between Maynard and Robert Cecil during the last years of Burghley’s life, and the Scottish ambassador, Archibald Douglas, frequently wrote to Maynard on matters of common concern. Many notes and drafts relating to the English armed forces are in his hand, and he was in the habit of endorsing documents addressed to Burghley on naval and military affairs.4

Though Burghley became increasingly dependent on Maynard and Hickes during the last years of his life, he reacted vigorously to any suggestion that he could be controlled by his subordinates. Maynard wrote him a long letter in July 1593, expressing ‘exceeding grief’ at his master’s ‘hard opinion’ of him. For two or three years past he had found Burghley’s former favour withdrawn, he believed, because of reports which had come to Burghley’s ears that he had boasted that he could ‘rule or govern’ his master. Clearly this was related to payments suitors were prepared to make to Maynard to secure his or Burghley’s favour. On one occasion in 1597 Maynard was offered £100 for his help in a comparatively minor suit about the reversion of land in Ireland. In 1593 it was alleged that Thomas Shirley I, treasurer at war, had ‘infinitely bribed’ Maynard to conceal his misappropriation of funds for the Netherlands. Shirley admitted making at least one payment to Maynard:

I do swear by the living God that to my remembrance I have not given to Mr. Maynard above ten pounds in one year for all his pains, being ashamed to make it known that I have used so small gratuity for so great pains as I have continually put him to.

In view of the wide range of functions and duties which Maynard performed, his yearly profits from gratuities must have been considerable.5

In August 1598, shortly after Burghley’s death, John Chamberlain reported that Maynard had ‘become the Queen’s man’ and that he was so highly favoured that he was thought ‘nearest in election to be secretary’. Instead he became surveyor of the musters in Ireland. Similarly, a rumour that he was to be appointed ambassador to France in 1604 was succeeded by another Irish appointment, that of muster master general. He died on 11 May 1610, leaving a considerable estate. Besides lands of the dissolved monastery of Tilty in Essex, which he purchased in 1588 for £5,000, and the manor of Little Easton, which he obtained in 1589 and which became his Essex seat, he held nine manors in possession and reversion, eight in Essex and one in Surrey; some of this property had been entailed on him by his father. He also had land in Westminster and London. He left £2,000 each to his daughters Elizabeth and Mary, and 400 ozs. of plate to his widow.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: A.G.R.S.


  • 1. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiii), 76; (xiv), 595; F. Chancellor, Ancient Sep. Mons. of Essex, 83; Essex Rev. xliv. 76-8. On Maynard generally, see A. G. R. Smith, ‘Sir Michael Hickes and the Secretariat of the Cecils, circa 1580-1612’ (London Univ. PhD thesis, 1962) chs. 2, 3, 10.
  • 2. Essex RO, Q/SR passim; CSP Ire. 1600-1, p. 249; APC, xxix. 701; xxxii. 501; SP14/60; Lansd. 171, f. 397; Colvin, Lieutenants and Keepers of Rolls of Essex, 80.
  • 3. Clutterbuck, Herts. iii. 497; account of expenses of funeral of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Raynham mss; Gen. Mag. vi. 635-41; HMC Hatfield, ii. 532, 533; D’Ewes, 517, 558, 566, 571, 586, 622-3, 624, 631, 635, 642, 649, 650, 668, 680, 681; Townshend, Hist. Colls. 106, 111, 114, 200.
  • 4. SP12/204-14, 262-5; 63/179/20, 21; 81/6/48, 86-91, 112; 81/7/1; 84/48/76; 84/50/3-8, 43, 95, 108-10; Hatfield mss 49/113; Lansd. 79, f. 186; HMC Hatfield, ii. 532, 533; iv. 72; v. 100; vi. 58, 249-50, viii. 162, 254; CSP Ire. 1596-7, p. 238; CSP Scot. xi. 37.
  • 5. SP12/244/69; 245/51; HMC Hatfield, iv. 323, 606; v. 360, 511; vi. 191, 425-6, 448; vii. 231, 266, 293, 378, 393; viii. 205; xiii. 577; Hatfield mss 28/71, 75; 32/30; 53/20; Lansd. 87, f. 71; CSP Dom. 1591-4, p. 370; CSP Ire. 1592-6, p. 229.
  • 6. Chamberlain Letters ed. McClure, i. 42, 198; CSP Ire. 1600-1, p. 249; Egerton 2644, f. 145; HMC Hatfield, xvi. 205-6, 350; Essex Rev. v. 99; vii. 249; C142/107/58; 319/195; PCC 43 Wingfield.