Letters of Sir Henry James Sumner Maine (1822-1888)

Scope and Content

The correspondence consists of letters 1870-1877, a letter to Johnson, 1884; and, an undated letter to Mrs. Stanley.

Administrative / Biographical History

The jurist Henry James Sumner Maine was born on 15 August 1822. His childhood was spent in Jersey and in Henley-on-Thames. He was educated at Christ's Hospital, London, and at Pembroke College, Cambridge. From 1845 to 1847 he was a Junior Tutor at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and in 1847 he became Regius Professor of Civil Law. In 1850, Maine was called to the Bar and in 1852 became Reader in Roman Law and Jurisprudence at the Inns of Court. In 1862 he was made a legal member of the Viceroy's Council of India, serving under Lord Elgin, Lord Lawrence, and Lord Mayo. He returned to Britain in 1869 and became Professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford University. Maine was knighted in 1871, being awarded Knight Commander of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, and he was given a seat on the Council of India. In 1877 he was chosen as Master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and in 1887 was appointed to the Chair of International Law at Cambridge. His publications include Ancient law: its connection with the early history of society and its relation to modern ideas (1861), Village communities (1871), Popular government (1885), and International law (1888). His Ancient law was the starting point of the study of jurisprudence for some time afterwards. Sir Henry James Sumner Maine died in Cannes on 3 February 1888.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Material acquired among purchase made June 1971, Accession no. E71.17.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.12. Llwyd-Mason. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes several locations of Maine related material.