No One Knows Why Maine is Called Maine

Maine ForestToday I found out no one really knows why Maine is called Maine.

One of the most popular theories is that it is derived from the nautical term “the main” or “Main Land”.  Maine has an incredible number of islands off it’s coast, so perhaps sailors referred to it as “Maine”, as in “Main Land”, to distinguish it from the surrounding islands.

In 2001, the state legislature, not apparently too concerned as to if it was fact or not, adopted the resolution that stated that the state was named after the ancient French province of Maine, which was of Gaulish origin.  Maine was discovered by the French; however, the first known record of it being called Maine wasn’t until Aug. 10, 1622 when it was chartered to English Royal Navy veterans, Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason who “intend to name The Province of Maine”.

Mason himself served in the Royal Navy in the Orkney Islands where the main island was called “Mainland”.  Gorges also may have had something to do with this as his family came from a village which neighbored “Broadmayne” and was at times known as Maine.  There is also a small village in England that was once named Maine, though the connection to the state Maine is not known, if that is the origin.  In whatever case, the name was finally officially set by King Charles of England in 1665 when he ordered that the “province of Maine” be forever known as such.

If you liked this article and the Bonus Facts below, you might also enjoy:

Bonus Facts:

  • Maine is the only state in the United States whose name has only one syllable.
  • Eastport Maine is the most eastern city in the United States.
  • About 40 million pounds of the United States’ lobster supply (about 90 percent) is caught off the coast of Maine annually.
  • Maine also produces about 25% of all the blueberries in the United States, making it the largest producer of blueberries in the world.
  • It’s other great export is toothpicks; Maine produces 90% of the United States’ toothpick supply.
  • The first English settlement in Maine was established by the Plymouth Company at Popham in 1607; this was the same year Jamestown was settled.  The Popham colony however, was not able to survive Maine’s harsh winters, which is why Jamestown is considered to be the nations first permanent English speaking settlement.
  • Maine native Joshua L. Chamberlain was the last Civil War soldier to die of wounds incurred in the Civil War.  He also has the distinction of being the only soldier to be battlefield promoted to General.
  • Maine has a total area of about 33,215 square miles making it slightly larger than the other five New England states combined.
  • 90% of the land in Maine is forested (about 17 million acres), much of which is uninhabited.
  • Maine is the only state to border just one other state, that being New Hampshire.
  • Maine became the 23rd state on March 15, 1820 through the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Maine and Missouri into the union about the same time (separated by under a year), thus keeping a balance between slave and free states.
  • The original capital of Maine was Portland, but it was later changed to Augusta in 1832 to make the capital more central within the state.
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  • The most important blueberry breeding program has been the USDA-ARS breeding program based at Beltsville, Maryland, and Chatsworth, New Jersey. This program began when Frederick Coville of the USDA-ARS collaborated with Elizabeth Coleman White of New Jersey.

    In 1916, they had the nation’s first commercial crop of blueberries marketed under the name of Tru-Blu-Berries. At one time, her farm yielded up to 20,000 barrels of berries a year. It was White who also introduced the use of cellophane in packaging of blueberries. In 1927, White helped organize the New Jersey Blueberry Cooperative Association.

    White was interested in all plants native to the New Jersey Pine Barrens. She formed the Holly Haven, Inc. and was active in rescuing the native American holly from obscurity. In 1947, she helped found the Holly Society of America.

    She was the first woman member of the American Cranberry Association and the first woman recipient of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture citation. In addition, she received many awards and medals from horticultural societies from several states.

    Elizabeth Coleman White died of cancer on November 27, 1954.

    WHILE MAINE IS THE LEADER OF LOW-BUSH BLUEBERRY PRODUCTION IN THE U.S., Michigan is the leader in highbush production.[4] In 1998, Michigan farms produced 220,000 tonnes (490,000,000 lb) of blueberries, accounting for 32% of the small, round berries eaten in the United States.[5]

    Significant acreages of highbush blueberries are cultivated in the states of New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.[6][7]

  • @ janie,your supposed to leave a comment about the article,not make your own.

  • This morning I read an article about John Mayne and it suggests that the name “MAINE” came from him:

    “John Mayne came to the USA in 1622. He acquired land in what is now North York, Maine. Because he was the first settler to own the land, it was named after him. Mayne’s Point, York, ME. It was located on the peninsula of the harbor. When the territory was separated from New York it was named after the the name of the Point there on York Bay. The province was named after Mayne’s point. Proof is the original name of the province “Mayne” The state’s name comes from the province. This means the state is named after the family. York county ME has this statement about the name, showing it did exist. “Mayne Point in Yarmouth was in this northern section of the original York County that became part of Cumberland County after the split.”

    All of his children were born here and two of his daughters lost their first husbands in an Indian raid that took place in the in the mid 1660s.

    The name Maine was first suggested in about 1620 but nothing came of it. The state says it is named after Maine county, France but at this time France and England were in an almost continual state of war and virtually nothing was named after French places. Also, I have found no proof that the french county was ever spelled any way but Maine and the original map of the provence shows Mayne as the name. ”

    What do you think?

    • I found out today doing my Genealogy that the John Mayne you’re talking about is my 9th great grandfather and I feel as you that the possibilities of Maine being named after him and his children are probably a higher probability than being named after the French province. And with the fact that John Mayne came from England and was the first settler in Maynes Point would give it an even higher probability. It definitely requires more in depth research.

  • I’ve done my genealogy and my mom’s side of the family is Main. The state of Maine was actually named after a head guy – I do apologize that I can’t remember his rank, in the military (which is a great x’9 grandfather to me). After so many years in the census the E was dropped off the last name and it has continued since by just Main.