Saltwater Portrait

Ned Maull, a Lewes original

July 26, 2011

There aren’t many residents of Lewes who can trace their family’s history in the city back nearly 260 years.

“From 1792 to present, I can walk through town and show you where every Maull lived,” said Ned Maull. He said somehow he picked up the nickname ‘Ned,’ and has been called that for years. Born Harry Edward Maull Jr. in Lewes in 1939, Maull has seen what once was a small town become a small city.

“My vocation is law, my advocation is history,” he said. Maull practiced law with his father, Harry Edward Maull Sr., for 40 years. Maull writes for the Journal of the Lewes Historical Society, where he serves on the board, and has also taught history at University of Delaware.

“In college I majored in history and political science, and I minored in music. I enjoyed all three,” he said.

Harry Edward Maull Sr. served as Lewes’ mayor 1946 to 1950. Maull’s great grandfather, Harry Cornelius Maull, was a cofounder of the Pilots’ Association for the Bay and River Delaware.

“My grandfather, Harry Marriner Maull, was an insurance salesman. But mostly he was a progger. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, crabbing and clamming. I hate to say work was secondary but, to be honest, it was secondary,” Maull said, laughing.


Everything about Delaware was smaller when Maull was growing up. There were about 32 people in his 1957 Lewes High School graduating class.

During summer when he was a student at University of Delaware, Maull worked for the state’s mosquito control program when its main office was located on Savannah Road in Lewes, where Hulling Cove is now.

“I learned the geography of Delaware. Everyday we would go to a different place looking for mosquitoes,” he said. The job involved ladling water from ditches and ponds and counting mosquito larvae.

“It took me to places like Port Mahon, Pickering Beach, Trapp Pond, Records Pond and all over,” he said. During a three-year period, Maull said the job gave him work experience and the experience of discovering Delaware.

Maull said before it was the mosquito-control base, the Hulling Cove site had been a World War II prisoner of war camp holding German soldiers.

“I was only 6 years old by the end of the war, but one of my very fond memories was of standing outside the fence at the prisoner of war compound and being given candy bars and chewing gum by the POWs,” he said.

Maull said prisoners were receiving more candy and goodies from the American Red Cross than they could eat.

He said several years ago he walked the grounds where the POW camp had been, looking for any relic of its existence. “I could not find any trace at all,” Maull said.

In 1961, Maull graduated from the University of Delaware, and because he had been in Reserve Officer Training Corps, he received a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Four days after graduating, he received a sheaf of papers from the army in the mail. He had a college deferment and was anticipating starting law school. But he and 28 UD classmates, who were also ROTC officers, had been drafted.

“Lewes was a backwater town in the ‘40s and ‘50s. So the army was an eye-opening experience,” Maull said. He said as exciting as the army had been, he stuck with his desire to become an attorney. “I’ve never regretted a minute of it,” he said. After three years in the service he returned to college and graduated from Dickinson Law School in Carlisle, Pa.

“I became a lawyer in December of 1966,” Maull said. He said at the time, including his father, there were 14 attorneys practicing law in Sussex County.

“You knew nearly all the attorney’s first names, and you knew their dog’s names. You were just that close,” Maull said.

Because there were so few attorneys, he couldn’t specialize. For about a decade, he handled mostly criminal and family cases, but he didn’t particularly enjoy either. Then in the ‘70s, real estate boomed.

“I got sort of moved into the real estate portion of the law firm, and Dad did mostly Court of Chancery work. He could pick and chose his clients pretty much at will,” Maull said.

Semi-retired since December 2000, Maull still represents several nonprofit corporations such as Lewes Fire Department, Masonic Lodge of Delaware and Methodist churches.

Since the ‘70s, Maull has lived with wife of 45 years, Peggy, near Red Mill Pond. There they raised daughters Karen, Carolyn and Christina, all of whom are professionals.

“My wife nearly always insisted that we eat dinner together. We had some wonderful discussions at the dinner table about everything,” Maull said.