Thursday, January 2, 2014

Elvington Palmer Spinney (1868-1952)

From the "Album of the Attorneys of Maine", published 1902.

    A distinguished figure in Maine law circles for over forty years, Elvington Palmer Spinney (recorded by most sources as "E.P. Spinney") was a well-known attorney in the village of North Berwick whose law practice extended into parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Aside from practicing law Spinney was also briefly active in politics, serving as a Municipal judge and in 1928 was a Republican aspirant for a Congressional seat from Maine. Born on June 30, 1868 in Georgetown, Maine, Elvington P. Spinney was the third of five children born to Palmer Oliver (1839-1920) and Mary Todd Spinney (1841-1924).
  Descended from an established New England family, Elvington Spinney received his early schooling in the towns of Brunswick and Lewiston, going on to study at Bowdoin College, graduating from here in the class of 1890 with his Bachelor of Arts degree. Spinney married in October of 1895 to Grace Burbank (1871-1951) and later had two children, Dorthy Gillette Spinney (1899-1930) and Leon L. Spinney (1903-1991), who later served as a judge for the Brunswick municipal court.

A young Elvington P. Spinney, courtesy of the George J. Mitchell Department of  Special 
Collections and Archives at the Bowdoin College Library.

    Following his graduation from Bowdoin Spinney began a teaching career in the state of Wisconsin, being a science teacher at the Hillside Seminary. He later returned to Maine to take on a position of principal at the Paris Academy and after a year in this post resigned to accept the same position at the Alfred Seminary in Alfred, Maine. During his time as a teacher, Spinney is noted as devoting his spare time to law study, eventually being admitted to the York County, Maine bar in 1895. In that year he established a law office in the town of North Berwick, and in the succeeding years this practice is recorded by Coe's "Maine Biographies" Volume I  as being "widely extended, often to the remote parts of the State of Maine, as well as in New Hampshire and Massachusetts."
   After nearly two decades of plying his trade as an attorney, Elvington Spinney served as a municipal judge for Yorkshire, Maine, holding a seat on the bench for two terms, 1911 to 1919. Nine years after leaving the bench Spinney became the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine's first district in 1928. This marked the first time Spinney attempted a run at political office, and besides his stint as municipal judge he had earlier served as a town selectman. Spinney's opponent in that year's congressional contest was three-term incumbent Republican Carroll Lynwood Beedy (1880-1947) of Cumberland County, and in the November election, he bested Spinney by a comfortable margin, 40, 255 votes to Spinney's total of 19,219. Beedy would go on to serve a further three terms in Congress, being defeated for reelection in 1934.
   Spinney's congressional candidacy was his only attempt at the national office and in the remaining years of his life maintained memberships in the York County Bar Association, the Maine State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. A past leader of the Eagle Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Spinney also occupied a leading position in the Negutaquit Lodge of the Improved Order of Red Men, serving the organization as Grand Sachem. Elvington Spinney died at age 83 on February 27, 1952 at his home in North Berwick Maine. He was survived by his son Leon and was later interred at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Brunswick.

               Spinney's obituary (with mislabeled initial), from the Portsmouth Herald, February 28, 1952.


  1. This nice looking man was related to me. The Spinney family in Georgetown, Maine are my ancestors.

  2. This man is related to me as well. I am his great grand daughter.