MAYNE, Sir William, 1st Bt. (1722-94), of Arnos Grove, Mdx.; Gatton, Surr.; and Carrick Mayne, co. Dublin.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1774 - 1780
1780 - 1790

Family and Education

b. 1722, 4th s. of William Mayne of Powis Logie, Clackmannan, and bro. of Robert Mayne.  m. 15 July 1758, Frances, da. of Joshua, 2nd Visct. Allen [I], sis. and h. of John, 3rd Visct. (through her he acquired considerable estates in Ireland), 1s. (died in infancy).  cr. Bt. 22 Apr. 1763; Baron Newhaven [I] 26 July 1776.

Offices Held

M.P. [I] 1761-76.


William Mayne spent his early years at Lisbon in the family business of Mayne and Barn. He retired to England in 1757 but did not immediately give up his connexion with the business world: from 1757 to 1765 he was a director of the Royal Exchange Insurance Co., and until 1780 he appears in the trade directories as a merchant.

In 1761, having attached himself to Bute, he contested Canterbury. He was obviously eager to enter Parliament; but it is difficult to explain why he stood for a populous borough, with which he had apparently no connexion, rather than for a constituency where his money would ensure him a seat. On 11 Dec. 1760 Sir Henry Erskine wrote to Lord George Sackville1 to request the Duke of Dorset’s interest for Mayne,

that he may not appear as one totally unknown, which they endeavour to represent him in that city. I understand he can now bring upwards of three hundred single votes to the poll, and he thinks he must succeed. He has not yet joined with any other of the many candidates in the field, and has left it to his friends in the corporation to determine which of them he shall join.

Stories were circulated by his supporters,

that Mr. Mayne was a man of great merit and fortune; that he had been preceptor to his Majesty, and that his Majesty was greatly improved in mercantile affairs and thoroughly a judge of the balance of trade, and from his instruction; that Mr. Mayne was a man of great parts, had great interest at court, and was an intimate friend of Mr. Pitt.2

He joined his interest to that of Sir James Creed, one of the sitting Members, and their union was supported by Newcastle as well as by Bute. But ‘the principal people in the city’ and ‘the farmers of note round about’ were against them, and the cry of ‘No Scotch, no foreigner’ was raised against Mayne.3 He came out bottom of the poll.

He persisted in his attempts to enter the House. On 1 Dec. 1763 he wrote from Dublin to Charles Jenkinson:4 ‘I am most thoroughly persuaded of your good intentions to me, and that you will remind Mr. Grenville of my pretensions for Parliament.’ But Grenville did nothing—perhaps because Mayne had been too closely connected with Bute; and he is not known to have applied to Rockingham or Chatham. In 1768 he nibbled at Colchester but soon gave it up; and contested Malmesbury, a borough controlled by Lord Suffolk, where he could have had very little chance of success.

In 1774 he made sure of a seat by purchasing control of Gatton, and in addition was successful at Canterbury. He seems to have been hitherto opposed to North’s Administration: Boswell in 1779 describes an occasion when he contended against Johnson that the decision on the Middlesex election was wrong;5 and Walpole in his account of the debate of 5 Dec. 17746 includes Mayne among those who ‘used to be opponents’ and now ‘appeared converts’. Mayne voted with the court in this division; but on 13 Dec. ‘condemned the very extraordinary conduct of those in power from withholding from the House the necessary information’ on America, and said he would never have voted for the Address had he imagined ministers meant to refuse ‘the necessary explanations on which the Speech was supposed to be founded’. On 6 Feb. 1775, after having carefully read the papers, he told the House he had concluded that the Americans were ‘in a state of the most flagrant rebellion’, that ‘every moderate and constitutional method’ should be taken to bring back ‘these unhappy and deluded people to a sense of their duty’, but

if, after all, conciliating measures shall fail, this country has no alternative left but to make use of that power they enjoy ... for the protection of the whole empire; and to show the Americans that as our ancestors deluged this country with their blood to gain this constitution for us, we ... are determined ... to transmit it perfectly and unimpaired to posterity or perish in the attempt.7

On 22 Feb. 1775 he voted for Wilkes’s motion to expunge from the journals the resolutions on the Middlesex election. He continued to support Government on the American war but was frequently critical of their conduct of it: on 5 Apr. 1775 he voted against the bill to restrain the trade of the southern colonies because ‘he thought it would rather tend to irritate than to reconcile, that it would rather tend to unite in one common league than to disunite the people of America’; on 12 Apr. 1775 he severely criticized the army extraordinaries; and on 27 May 1778 attacked North for accepting a conciliatory motion by David Hartley ‘as he suspected independence to America lurking in some corner of it’.8 He voted against Administration on the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779, and on the motion for an account of pensions, 21 Feb. 1780, but supported them on economical reform, 8 Mar., and on Dunning’s motion, 6 Apr.

He consistently advocated concessions to Ireland. On 16 Dec. 1774,9 in his second speech in the House,

[he] drew a melancholy picture of the sufferings of the Irish; said that all promises had been shamefully broken ... and that the Castle was an asylum to every needy, servile, cringing apostate that would bow the knee and barter every thing which should be dear to him for emolument and court favour.

When the Irish importation bill was read on 26 May 1778 ‘he divided the House, and was the single Member who voted against putting it off for two months’;10 and in 1779 he repeatedly argued the need for lifting the restrictions on Irish trade.11 ‘We agree perfectly’, he wrote to John Hely Hutchinson on 14 July 1779, ‘that anything short of taking off all restraints upon our commerce will but patch up a sore that will be always ailing.’12

Robinson wrote about Canterbury in his electoral survey in 1780: ‘Lord Newhaven [as he had become in 1776] stands and expects to come in again. He is sometimes with, at others against, but he professes great friendship.’ Newhaven, however, was defeated, and had himself returned at Gatton. He voted with North’s Administration to the end, and opposed Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783. This was not out of loyalty to North, but because he objected to the grant of independence to America: he told the House on 21 Feb. ‘that he did not think the King, Lords, and Commons had a right to part with the property of Great Britain’. He was especially concerned about the loyalists: ‘By that [American trade] bill’, he said on 11 Mar., ‘we were going to do a great deal for the Americans; it was fit to see, before the bill should be passed, whether they intended to do anything for us, or the loyalists.’ But he spoke to an unresponsive House.13

He seems now to have tired of Parliament, and wished to part with Gatton. His nephew, Robert Graham, wrote on 23 Oct. 1783:14 ‘The Gatton estate is not yet sold or ever will be at the price his Lordship puts upon it—£36,000. This vanity will ruin his Lordship.’ Newhaven did not vote on Fox’s East India bill, and in January 1784 was classed by Robinson as a supporter of Pitt.

On 18 Apr. 1785 he voted with Pitt on parliamentary reform. No speeches by him are reported for 1784 or 1785, and only 9 for 1786-90, all on minor topics; nor did he vote on Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786, or Impey’s impeachment, 9 May 1788. On the Regency he voted against Pitt. Gatton was sold in 1788 or 1789, and Newhaven did not stand for Parliament in 1790.

He died 28 May 1794.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. HMC Stopford-Sackville, i. 45.
  • 2. T. Roch, Address to Electors of Canterbury, quoted Namier, Structure, 99-104, q.v. for a full account of this election.
  • 3. Sir. Geo. Oxenden to Newcastle, 1, 19 Feb. 1761, Structure, 101.
  • 4. Add. 38201, ff. 278-9.
  • 5. Boswell’s Johnson, iii. 408.
  • 6. Last Jnls. i. 412.
  • 7. Almon, i. 14-15, 150-3.
  • 8. Ibid. 416, 437; Stockdale, viii. 336.
  • 9. Almon, i. 24.
  • 10. Stockdale, viii. 332-3.
  • 11. Almon, xi. 177, 237; xii. 108-9.
  • 12. HMC 12th Rep IX, 291.
  • 13. Debrett, v. 312, 447.
  • 14. Kinross House mss, NLS.