Jurist and legal historian. Born in Kelso (Scottish Borders), Maine was educated at Christ's Hospital and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he was regarded as one of the most brilliant classical scholars of his time. He proceeded to be appointed as Regius Professor of Civil Law at Cambridge. Maine was a pioneer in the study of legal history, maintaining that it was the best way to understand both modern law and the development of civilisation. In 1863, Maine was persuaded to go to India, where he acted as an advisor to the colonial government and played a significant role in codifying a system of law for that country. He returned to Britain in 1869 and was appointed to the new Chair of Historical and Comparative Jurisprudence at Oxford. He returned to Cambridge as Master of Trinity College in 1877, only months before his death. Ill, he travelled to the South of France on medical advice and died in Cannes.
His books include the well-received Ancient Law (1861), Village Communities in the East and the West (1871), The Early History of Institutions (1875), Popular Government (1885) and International Law, published posthumously in 1888.