MAINE, Edmund (?1633-1711), of Belford Hall, nr. Berwick, Northumb.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1705 - 1708

Family and Education

?bap. 20 Jan. 1632[–3], s. of Edmund Maine and Susan.  m. by 1686 Mary (d. 1705), da. of Col. Thomas Forster of Adderstone, Northumb., wid. of John Roddam of Littlehoughton, Northumb., sis. of Thomas Forster I*. s.p.1

Offices Held

Cornet, Duke of Schomberg’s horse (Portugal) 1668; lt. Sir Henry Jones light horse (French army) 1671, capt. 1672; capt. Monmouth’s Horse by 1674, lt.-col. (France) 1678, maj. (England) 1678–9; lt.-col. Gerard’s Horse 1679; guidon and maj. Duke of York’s Horse 1680; lt. and brevet col. 3rd tp. Life Gds. 1685–92; brig.-gen. 11 Nov. 1688, renewed May 1689; maj.-gen. 1704; lt.-gen. 1707; gov. of Berwick 1702–d.2


Maine’s ancestry is a mystery. An Edmund Maine was baptized at St. Clement Danes, Westminster in 1632[?–3], but there was a Maine family of fairly humble social status at Black Heddon in Northumberland, and it has also been conjectured that he was Scottish in origin, possibly from Powis, Clackmannanshire. He embarked on a military career, serving in Portugal and France, where he probably met John Churchill† (later Duke of Marlborough). Having served in Monmouth’s horse in France and England, he was a lieutenant-colonel of horse in Scotland in 1679 and was presented with a royal gift for helping to suppress the rebellion north of the border. After serving in the Duke of York’s horse regiment, he became lieutenant-colonel to Lord Churchill’s troop of horse guards and fought at Sedgemoor. His estate at Belford was 14 miles from Berwick. He was one of the justices and deputy-lieutenants turned out of the Northumberland commissions in 1687, was restored in June 1688, and was touted in September 1688 as a Court candidate for James II’s proposed Parliament, along with his father-in-law Thomas Forster of Adderstone. When Lord Churchill went ‘over to the enemy’ at the end of November, Maine was reported to have ‘gone in pursuit of them’. He did not join the Prince of Orange but stayed in his quarters in Warminster. However, his petition for back pay as a brigadier-general from 11 Nov. 1688 to 1 May 1689 was granted in 1692.3

After the Revolution, Maine acted as commander-in-chief of the third troop of Life Guards in Ireland, in Marlborough’s absence. In January 1692 he surrendered his commission ‘not (they say) out of disrespect for his Majesty’s service, but upon a resolution that he would not serve in case any person was put over him in that troop, as the Lord Colchester [Richard Savage*] lately was’, a story repeated by Robert Yard*. Since Marlborough had been dismissed from all his offices on 20 Jan., the timing of Maine’s retirement is suggestive. Furthermore, in 1696 Sir John Fenwick† was to name Maine as one of the officers attached to Marlborough who had promised to go over to James in 1692.4

Maine disappears from the records at this point, only to reappear as governor of Berwick (worth £1,000 p.a.) shortly after the accession of Queen Anne (and upon Marlborough’s complete restoration to royal favour). Numerous letters from Maine to Marlborough survive for this period, including a note of thanks of June 1704 for his promotion to major-general, which Marlborough revealed had been offered to him when he quit in 1692 and that it would now ‘only be a feather in his cape, for there is no pay’. By 1705 Maine clearly had his sights set on a parliamentary seat, writing to Marlborough on 12 Feb.: ‘I have very good assurances of my being in the House the next approaching election and shall be very ambitious always to know your Grace’s direction for my conduct there.’ Before the election there were erroneous reports of his death, prompting Marlborough to write of him in June: ‘I think him a very good man, and I am afraid it will be pretty hard to find one so fit for that government.’ Maine had donated six bells to Morpeth Tower and was returned for the borough in 1705. In August he was sending Marlborough accounts of the proceedings in the Scottish parliament, and at the end of the month Marlborough took Maine at his word regarding his parliamentary conduct, asking Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†) to ‘speak two words to him, both concerning the Speaker and the occasional bill’. The need for such an approach can probably be explained by the fact that Maine was a Tory, but that his connexions with Marlborough and the Court outweighed party loyalty. Certainly, it was reported later that Godolphin had ‘answered the expense’ of his election. If any such lobbying took place it had the desired effect because Maine duly voted on 25 Oct. for the Court candidate as Speaker, was listed as a ‘High Church courtier’ and supported the Court on 18 Feb. 1706 on the regency bill proceedings. His recorded contributions to proceedings cannot be separated from those of Simon Mayne, although it would seem likely that he was the ‘Mr Maine’ appointed on 6 Dec. 1705 to draft a private estate bill relating to an estate in Northumberland. He was classed as a Whig on a list of early 1708, but missed part of the 1707–8 session due to his command in Newcastle against the attempted Jacobite invasion. He again thanked Marlborough in May 1708 for remembering him ‘in the late promotion’, this time to lieutenant-general. He was not returned at the 1708 election, having ‘deserted Morpeth to Lord Ossulston’s friend’ (Sir John Bennett*).5

In March 1709 gout prevented him from travelling to London, and in the summer of 1710 he was also afflicted with the stone and gravel. However, even at the age of 77 he was intent on returning to Parliament at the 1710 election. In August he was expected to be Lord Carlisle’s (Charles Howard*) choice for the second seat at Morpeth, but owing to Lord Treasurer Godolphin’s dismissal he declined the invitation to stand. That decision turned out to be unfortunate as his wish to stand at Berwick was thwarted by ‘the Presbyterians’ and he was forced to turn his attentions back to Morpeth ‘if the Lord Carlisle do not obstruct me, I having disobliged him’. To this end Maine was forced into an agreement with the Whig Sir John Delaval*, ‘whose character and principles I could never abide’, by which he would meet Delaval’s election expenses in return for Delaval’s second votes. In the event, many of Delaval’s voters, some of whom were ‘Presbyterians’, refused to vote for Maine. Reporting all this to Robert Harley*, Maine commented that he regarded being out of the House as ‘the greatest misfortune that ever could have befallen me at this juncture’, adding ‘I hope I may not be so unhappy as to lie under any imputation of blame since no man living can possibly have a more firm or a true zeal for her Majesty and the Established Church’. The next year he was dead, his burial having taken place on 25 Apr. 1711 at Bamburgh, five miles east of Belford.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. IGI, London; New Hist. Northumb. i. 229; xiv. 287.
  • 2. J. Childs, Nobles, Gent. and Profession of Arms (Soc. for Army Hist. Res. Sp. Publn. xiii), 60; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 291, 311.
  • 3. London; New Hist. Northumb. xii. 335, 369; Arch. Aeliana ser. 4, xxiv. 104; Childs, 60; CSP Dom. 1680–1, p. 154; 1687–9, pp. 220, 273, 278, 361, 346; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1882), p. 123; HMC 7th Rep. 408; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1110, 1450.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1696, p. 495; HMC Hastings, ii 340; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/059/1, Yard to Alexander Stanhope, 2 Feb. 1691[–2].
  • 5. Add. 61162, ff. 184, 186, 192–3, 200–3; 70315, [?Erasmus Lewis*] to [Harley], 15 Aug. 1710; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 291, 311, 445, 446, 488; Hodgson, Northumb. ii(2), p. 455; Arch. Aeliana ser.4, xxxiv. 17.
  • 6. Add. 61162, ff. 209–10; 70314–15, ‘extract of a letter from York’, 15 Aug. 1708; 70202, Maine to [Harley], 13 Sept. 1710; 70248, same to same, 14, 19 Oct. 1710; New Hist. Northumb. i. 229.