‘Maverick’ describes an innovative, independent-minded person. Samuel A. Maverick (1803-70) was a Texas cattle rancher who kept his cattle unbranded. This caused a stir as ranchers tended to brand their animals in fear rustlers stealing their livestock. Maverick believed branding animals was cruel but he also understood that he could claim any unbranded animal for his own – other ranchers would have to agree they were his. He had become so well known that, at the time of his death, politicians who refused to affiliate themselves with a particular cause were known as ‘mavericks’.
[Courtesy of 'It's a Wonderful Word' by Albert Jack]