MAYNARD, Sir William (1586-1640), of Easton Lodge, Little Easton, Essex

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



1 Feb. 1610
15 Apr. 1614

Family and Education

b. 10 July 1586,1 1st s. of Sir Henry Maynard† of Easton Lodge and Susan, da. and coh. of Thomas Pierson of Westminster, usher of the Exch. and Star Chamber; bro. of Charles* and John*.2 educ. embassy, Paris 1598;3 St. John’s, Camb., MA 1608;4 travelled abroad (France), 1606-8;5 I. Temple 1611.6 m. (1) settlement 22 June 1608, Frances (d. 1 Sept. 1613), da. of William Cavendish†, 1st Bar. Cavendish of Hardwick, later 1st earl of Devonshire, 2s d.v.p. 1da. d.v.p.; (2) settlement 7 Apr. 1615, Anne (d. 5 Aug. 1647), da. of Sir Anthony Everard† of Gt. Waltham, Essex, 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 5da.7 kntd. 7 Mar. 1609;8 suc. fa. 1610;9 cr. bt. 29 June 1611, Bar. Maynard of Wicklow [I] 30 May 1620, Bar. Maynard of Estaines ad Turrim (Little Easton) 14 Mar. 1628.10 d. 19 Dec. 1640.11 sig. W[illiam] Maynard.

Offices Held

Gent. usher, quarter waiter, Chamber by 1604;12 gent. of Privy Chamber, Prince Henry’s Household by 1610.13

Member, Virg. Co. 1612,14 N.W. Passage Co. 1612.15

J.p. Essex 1612-d., Saffron Walden, Essex 1615-at least 1638, Cambs. 15 Dec. 1640-d., custos rot. Essex June 1640-d.;16 collector, aid 1612-13;17 dep. lt. Essex 1613-35, ld. lt. (jt.) 1635-d., Cambs. June 1640-d.;18 commr. sewers, Essex 1613-38, Mdx. 1613, 1625, Kent 1625, Herts. 1628, 1638,19 highway repairs, Essex 1615, 1622,20 oyer and terminer, Home circ. 1617-June 1640, Essex 1629, June 1640-d., Norf. circ. June 1640-d., Cambs. June 1640-d.,21 inquiry, Tiptree Heath, Essex 1620-3,22 subsidy, Essex 1621-2, 1624,23 preservation of royal game 1622,24 Benevolence 1626,25 inspect forts 1626,26 Forced Loan 1626-7,27 martial law 1627,28 swans, various counties 1629, Essex and Suff. 1635,29 charitable causes, Essex 1629-30, 1637,30 knighthood fines 1630-3.31


Maynard’s ancestors hailed from Devon, though his grandfather John settled in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, representing the borough in Parliament during the 1550s. Maynard’s father Henry rose to prominence as one of the principal secretaries to Lord Burghley (Sir William Cecil†), and acquired a large estate in western Essex, centred on Little Easton. His local standing was reflected in his election in 1601 as an Essex knight of the shire, and he subsequently became one of the county’s deputy lieutenants.32 Not surprisingly, Maynard grew up as a favoured Cecil client. Aged only 11, he was included in the entourage of Sir Robert Cecil’s† 1598 embassy to France, and later recalled the ambassador’s ‘paternal care’ towards him during this trip.33 It was doubtless through Cecil’s influence that he secured his place as an usher in the king’s Privy Chamber early in the new reign. Maynard presumably began his studies at Cambridge prior to February 1606, when he was licensed to travel abroad with his cousin Henry Bowyer and a fellow of St. John’s College. He visited Paris in the following April, and again in early 1608, at which point illness obliged him to cut his tour short. Predictably he carried with him a letter of commendation from Cecil, now earl of Salisbury, and brought back a message for his patron from the ambassador to France, Sir George Carew II*.34 Maynard’s rising status was reflected in his marriage in June 1608 to a daughter of Lord Cavendish, and a knighthood nine months later. Around this time he also entered the service of the heir to the throne, Prince Henry.

With Salisbury seeking to bolster his support in the House of Commons ahead of a new parliamentary session in February 1610, Maynard was an obvious choice to fill a vacant seat at Penryn, where the electoral patrons were the earl’s kinsmen, the Killigrews. Named in this fourth session to scrutinize eight bills in committee, he is likely to have taken an interest in at least one (20 June), an attempt to block construction of the proposed New River, which would run less than 15 miles from Little Easton. The other bills dealt with debt repayments (20 Feb.), subscription to the articles of religion (14 Mar.), hawking (17 Apr.), elopement (8 May), and the estates of the Mildmay and Drury families (20 Feb., 27 and 31 March).35 In his speeches Maynard revealed an independence of mind which may have disappointed Salisbury, for although on 11 July he backed the government’s request for a grant of two subsidies, nine days later he declared his support for the Great Contract to be conditional on the establishment of a satisfactory tax regime and on the king’s compliance with the terms offered by Parliament. On 19 July he called for firm action against Sir Stephen Procter, charged with abusing his powers as a local commissioner, and he was named to a select committee later that day to prepare for a conference with the Lords on this subject. No record survives of his activities in the Parliament’s final session.36

On his father’s death in May 1610, Maynard inherited at least 10,000 acres in Essex, and his local prestige was further enhanced in the following year by the acquisition of a baronetcy, presumably with Salisbury’s encouragement.37 Promotion to the county bench followed shortly afterwards. The deaths of both Salisbury and Prince Henry in 1612 seem to have deterred Maynard from pursuing his Court career thereafter, and he concentrated instead on developing his role within Essex. In this, however, he was hampered by his cool relations with the county’s leading landowners, the Rich family, which stemmed from the political and religious differences discussed below. The Riches’ firm grip on parliamentary patronage in Essex probably explains why Maynard never secured the coveted post of knight of the shire, although his application for a second travel licence in early 1614 suggests that he was not actively seeking to return to the Commons.38 Nevertheless, in April that year he was returned at Chippenham, doubtless through the influence of Sir Henry Bayntun*, whose son Sir Edward* had just married Maynard’s sister Elizabeth.39 As a prominent figure in the Virginia Company, Maynard was alarmed by the impertinent attack on the House made on 17 May by Richard Martin*, who had been invited in to represent the company’s interests. He roundly condemned Martin’s behaviour, fixing the blame for the incident firmly on Martin himself. He was, however, equally swift to praise the errant lawyer on the following day when the latter confessed his fault. On 23 May, having just supported his kinsman Sir William Cavendish I’s contention that naturalized Scots should be eligible to sit in the Commons, Maynard found himself named to the committee for a bill to naturalize two Scots. On 7 June, as the Parliament’s dissolution approached, he deplored the current confrontation with the Crown, though his precise comments cannot now be reconstructed.40

In 1615 Maynard took as his second wife the daughter of one of his former colleagues on the Essex bench, Sir Anthony Everard.41 His acquisition of an Irish peerage five years later can be seen as a response to the Rich family’s elevation to the earldom of Warwick in 1618, and the coolness between Maynard and the 2nd earl (Sir Robert Rich*) became steadily more pronounced during the 1620s. In marked contrast to the puritan Warwick, Maynard was a prominent Arminian. He had probably first encountered Arminian views while at Cambridge, as St. John’s College was a noted centre for anti-Calvinists. His enduring ties to his alma mater, which coincidentally led him to found a university lectureship in logic in 1620, seem to have strengthened his convictions. When he constructed a private chapel at Easton Lodge around 1621, he furnished it with one of the first windows in Protestant England to depict the Crucifixion, and he used his powers of ecclesiastical patronage to promote like-minded clergy.42

Politically, and again unlike Warwick, Maynard aligned himself with the Court. That said, he was clearly not closely attuned to the government’s electoral plans in 1624. Prince Charles’s Council, which was helping to find seats for courtiers that year, nominated his younger brother John, a client of the duke of Buckingham, for a seat at St. Albans. John also stood at Chippenham, and Maynard, assuming that his sibling would be successful at St. Albans, tried to influence the Wiltshire borough in favour of another of his brothers, Charles. In the meantime the Prince’s Council had withdrawn its nomination, presuming that there would be a smooth outcome at Chippenham, and in the resultant confusion John came close to losing both seats.43 Ordinarily, Maynard was more sure-footed than this. Indeed, he oversaw the only successful collection in Essex towards the 1626 Benevolence, applying gentle personal pressure to the gentry of his own hundred, but arguing to Buckingham that the money should be returned if the rest of the county remained obdurate.44 Later that year, with Warwick now openly at odds with the duke, an inquiry was launched into the earl’s conduct as governor of two Essex forts. However, while Maynard and the other commissioners found room for improvement, they diplomatically cleared Warwick of actual wrongdoing.45 In 1627 the Forced Loan presented Maynard with a much stiffer challenge, but he again rose to the occasion. Daunted neither by a campaign of threatening letters nor by Warwick’s high-profile opposition to the Loan, he employed the same collection tactics as before, and extracted a contribution from his own neighbourhood which greatly surpassed those gathered elsewhere in Essex. While this placed him out on a limb politically, Maynard shrewdly safeguarded his personal image by obstructing the government’s simultaneous demands for money to pay for local ship levies, which he recognized as being a lesser priority for the Crown. The fundamental loyalty which underpinned this balancing act was evidently appreciated by the king, who raised Maynard to the English peerage in March 1628, free of charge, to bolster his support in the House of Lords ahead of the forthcoming Parliament.46

During the 1630s Maynard’s close friendship with Archbishop Laud tied him still more closely to the government. An active commissioner for knighthood compositions, he was appointed joint lord lieutenant of Essex in 1635, essentially as a counterbalance to Warwick.47 Already heavily involved in organizing the Essex levy for the Second Bishops’ War, in June 1640 Maynard found his jurisdiction extended to cover Cambridgeshire, where he had to suppress a mutiny. The strain of his duties told on his health, and he died in the following December at Finsbury, near London.48 Although he had been complaining for some time about his financial state, he assigned to his five daughters dowries totalling £24,000 in his will of 20 Aug. 1638. At his own request, Maynard was buried in the parish church at Little Easton.49 His son William sat for Calne in the Short Parliament.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Paul Hunneyball


  • 1. Diary of John Dee ed. J.O. Halliwell (Cam. Soc. xix), 21.
  • 2. Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), 679; PROB 11/75, f. 86; CPR, 1572-5, p. 468.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, xxiii. 22.
  • 4. Al. Cant.
  • 5. SP78/53, f. 76; HMC Hatfield, xx. 28.
  • 6. CITR, ii. 57.
  • 7. C142/319/195; 142/615/129; T. Wright, Hist. Essex, ii. 228; Vis. Essex, 595; CSP Dom. 1640-1, p. 323; Barrington Fam. Letters ed. A. Searle (Cam. Soc. ser. 4. xxviii), 100.
  • 8. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 147.
  • 9. C142/319/195.
  • 10. C66/1942/19; 66/2233/1; 66/2417/1.
  • 11. C142/615/129.
  • 12. LC2/4/5.
  • 13. SP14/67/147.
  • 14. A. Brown, Genesis of US, ii. 544.
  • 15. CSP Col. E.I. 1513-1616, p. 239.
  • 16. C66/1898; C181/2, f. 231; 181/5, f. 117v; C231/5, pp. 389, 418.
  • 17. E403/2732.
  • 18. Bodl. Firth c. 4, p. 49; Sainty, Lord Lieutenants, 13, 20.
  • 19. C181/2, ff. 185v, 193; 181/3, ff. 158v, 272; 181/5, ff. 112v, 116v.
  • 20. C181/2, f. 225v; 181/3, f. 68v.
  • 21. C181/2, f. 268; 181/4, f. 1v; 181/5, ff. 171, 177-8, 183v-4.
  • 22. C181/2, f. 357; 181/3, f. 95.
  • 23. C212/22/20-1, 23.
  • 24. C181/3, f. 77.
  • 25. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 151.
  • 26. APC, 1626, p. 276.
  • 27. Bodl. Firth c.4, p. 257; T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144.
  • 28. APC, 1627-8, p. 237.
  • 29. C181/3, f. 267v; 181/5, f. 28.
  • 30. C192/1, unfol.
  • 31. E178/5287, ff. 9, 13v.
  • 32. Wright, ii. 225; C142/319/195; Add. 11402, f. 89v.
  • 33. HMC Hatfield, x. 461.
  • 34. SO3/3, unfol.; SP78/53, f. 76; HMC Hatfield, xx. 28, 75.
  • 35. CJ, i. 397b, 410a, 415b, 417a, 418b, 426a, 442a.
  • 36. Ibid. 448a, 452a-3a.
  • 37. C142/319/195.
  • 38. J.K. Gruenfelder, Influence in Early Stuart Elections, 155; SO3/5, unfol. (Feb. 1614).
  • 39. C142/366/189.
  • 40. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 272, 277, 283, 319-20, 436.
  • 41. Lansd. 92, f. 199.
  • 42. CSP Dom. 1619-23, p. 162; Sloane 3562, f. 25; N. Tyacke, Anti-Calvinism, 192-4.
  • 43. Chamberlain Letters ed. N.E. McClure, ii. 527; DCO, ‘Prince Chas. in Spain’, f. 37; ‘Hawarde 1624’, p. 169.
  • 44. CSP Dom. Addenda, 1625-49, p. 151.
  • 45. APC, 1626, p. 276; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 452; R. Cust, Forced Loan, 200-1.
  • 46. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 278; Cust, 143, 200, 225, 245-6, 276; Strafforde Letters (1739) ed. W. Knowler, i. 44.
  • 47. Tyacke, 192-3; E178/5287, ff. 4v, 9v, 13v.
  • 48. CSP Dom. 1640, pp. 163, 195, 224, 301, 336, 500, 516-7; 1640-1, p. 323.
  • 49. CSP Dom. 1638-9, pp. 446-7, 451-2; PROB 11/185, ff. 185, 187v-9; Wright, 226.