MAISTER, William (aft.1660-1716), of Hull, Yorks.

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



Feb. 1701 - 27 Oct. 1716

Family and Education

b. aft. 1660, 1st s. of Henry Maister, of Hull by Anne, da. of William Raikes, alderman and chamberlain of Hull and warden of Trinity House.  m. aft. Feb. 1696, Lucy (d. 1704), da. of Alderman John Rogers of Hull, wid. of George Dickinson, collector of customs, Hull, 4s. 1da.  suc. fa. 1699.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Hull 1698, sheriff 1700.2


The Maisters were one of the most considerable merchant families in Hull, concentrating on the import of timber and iron ore from the Baltic. In a trade-dominated town, the family also exercised a significant amount of influence in local politics, Maister’s father having been an alderman, chamberlain, warden of Trinity House, mayor on two occasions, and deputy-governor of the Hamburg and Eastland Companies. It was therefore not surprising that on the basis of this family pre-eminence Maister should choose to represent Hull in Parliament. As the single most important interest in Hull elections was the corporation, which preferred to be represented in Parliament by local Whigs, Maister’s prospects were guaranteed. His chances of being elected on the corporation’s interest were strengthened in October 1699 when he was chosen as sheriff of Hull, on which occasion it was reported that he was a man ‘of eminent loyalty to the government and ability in parts and estate’. It was also evident that he was on good terms with another major influence in the area, the Duke of Newcastle (John Holles†), who was the town’s governor. Successful in the first 1701 election, Maister was unopposed in the next six Parliaments, standing jointly with a fellow Whig and Hull merchant, Sir William St. Quintin, 3rd Bt.* Like the other Hull MPs in this period, Maister and St. Quintin were expected to keep a regular correspondence with the corporation. However, Maister was not a particularly active Member, though as one of the merchants holding a large amount of New East India Company stock, he may have forwarded its interests in the two 1701 Parliaments and in the formation of the United Company. In the 1702–3 session Maister voted on 13 Feb. 1703 for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments to the bill for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. At the beginning of the 1704–5 session he was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, and voted against it, or was absent, on 28 Nov. 1704.3

Following the 1705 election Maister was noted as ‘Low Church’ in an analysis of the new Parliament. In the ensuing session he voted on 25 Oct. 1705 for the Court candidate as Speaker, while on 18 Feb. 1706 he supported the Court in the proceedings on the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill. Recorded as a Whig in an analysis of Parliament in early 1708, he told in favour of the Whig candidate in a division on the right of election at Reading (2 Dec. 1708), while in 1709 he was listed as a supporter of the naturalization of the Palatines. In the 1709–10 session he was teller, on 9 Feb. 1710, for a Whig motion which was aimed at preventing a by-election in Cambridge. On the 22nd the demands of his own constituency became apparent when he and St. Quintin were given leave to prepare a bill for the better provision for the poor in Hull, following the presentation of a petition from the mayor and corporation. At the same time the two MPs also managed to secure the release from quarantine of a cargo from the Baltic belonging to Hull merchants. Maister voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, and was classed as a Whig in the ‘Hanover list’ after the election of that year. In the 1711–12 session he voted for the motion of ‘No Peace without Spain’ (7 Dec. 1711), while in the following session he voted against the French commerce bill (18 June 1713). Noted as a Whig on that occasion, Maister was classified in the same manner in the Worsley list, and in a list which compared the 1715 Parliament with its predecessor. He died on 27 Oct. 1716, leaving all his property to his son, Henry†, who was also sole executor of his will. St. Quintin and Maister’s brother were made trustees for his two younger children, who were left £3,000 each, to be paid to them on reaching the age of 21. In his monumental inscription Maister was described as a ‘great and good patriot’ who had served ‘his country and this corporation [in] seven successive Parliaments with a disinterested fidelity’.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Ivar McGrath


  • 1. T. Gent, Hull, 36–37.
  • 2. J. J. Sheahan, Hull, 315; Hull corp. recs. L.1192; W. J. Davies, ‘A Description of the Trade and Shipping of Hull during the 17th Cent.’ (Cardiff Univ. M.A. thesis, 1937), 62, and app. D.
  • 3. G. Jackson, Hull in the 18th century, 301–2; Gent, 37; Sheahan, 300; R. C. Ward, ‘Political corresp. relating to Kingston-upon-Hull, 1678–1835’ (Leeds Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1989), 14–16, 47, 110; Hull corp. recs. L.1192; Add. 70501, f. 43; Quinn thesis, 63; EHR, lxxi. 237.
  • 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiv. 233; Borthwick Inst. York, wills, Holdernesse, March 1717; Gent, 36.