Mascy

"A well known Norman family. Macey, whence the name is derived, was near Coutances and Avranches. In 1086 Hugh de Maci held lands in Hunts (Domesd.), and Hamo or Hamund de Maci held nine lordships in barony from Hugh Lupus in Cheshire, and 1193 subscribed the foundation charter of Chester Abbey, and granted lands to it (Mon. i. 985)."—The Norman People. The present town of Dunham-Massey, "the home of the Masseys on the downs," takes its name from this Hamon, one of the Palatinate barons, who there built his castle, and made it the head of his honour. His descendants held it for more than two hundred and seventy years, five generations in succession bearing his name. Hamo III. founded Birkenhead Abbey for Benedictine monks in the time of Henry II. Hamo VI., the last Baron of Dunham, was three times married, though he left no posterity. His first wife, Isabel de Beauchamp, died on her wedding night; the second was her sister Alice, from whom he was divorced; and the third, Joan Clinton, was a sister of the Earl of Huntingdon. "By the counsel of this Joan," says Sir Peter Leycester, "he sold the reversion of the whole manor of Doneham, after the death of himself and his wife, to Oliver de Ingham, then Justice of Chester; for which reversion Oliver gave him 1000 marks, and 44 marks annual for his life, in 1316." It is stated that some time previously he had given this demesne "without license to Hamon his bastard son," but that the said bastard died during his lifetime in Gascony, leaving no issue. "There can be little doubt that Hamon the bastard was the son of Alice, who—perhaps on the ground of consanguinity—was divorced; and that, though base by law, he was the acknowledged son and heir by grant of Sir Hamon."—Ormerod.

Sir Hamon died about 1341, leaving four sisters who should have been his co-heiresses. Cecily, the eldest of these disappointed relatives, had married John Fitton of Bollin, who stoutly contested Ingham's right; and even took advantage of his absence in Gascony on the King's service to enter into possession of Dunham. But he was expelled by the King's command in the name of Oliver; and in spite of "great suits" and much exertion, the Fittons never recovered their inheritance till after Oliver's death. From them it passed by the Venables to the Booths, Earls of Warrington, whose heiress brought it, in the early part of the last century, to the Earls of Stamford, its present owners. No vestige remains of the old castle of the Massys; but their glorious chace still boasts of its "famous oaks, and magnificent breadths of bracken."

Though the family was thus deprived of its head and bereft of its barony, at least it ran no chance of wanting an heir-male. The ramifications of the parent stock of Dunham were, according to Ormerod, represented by seventeen families—some of them retaining the original spelling of Mascy—in Cheshire alone. Yet, in the course of the five hundred years following, nearly all of them had passed away.

The Massies of Sale, who gave their name to Saughall Massie, and had branched off as early as the time of King John, ended in 1685 with Richard Massy and his seven daughters. Of this line were the Massies of Backford and Timperley, whose last heir died in the time of Henry V.: the Massies of Edgeley, still flourishing under James I.: the Mascys of Godley, and probably those of Hough and Kelshall. The Masseys that were seated at Crossley till 1600, likewise bore their arms. The Masseys of Tatton expired about 1475 with a Sir Geoffrey, whose heiress Joan married William Stanley. There were in all ten Lords of Tatton of this name; and one of them, Sir Richard, had followed the banner of his Earl, the Black Prince, throughout the French wars; had led the archers on his last expedition, and received a grant in recognition of his services in Gascony and at Poitiers. The Masseys of Dunfield descended from a bastard of this house. Then there were the Masseys of Grafton, Withenshaw, &c, and the Masseys of Puddington,[1] whose ancestor Richard, the contemporary and probably the younger brother of the fifth Baron of Dunham, was Sheriff of Cheshire in 1277, and Judge of Chester in 1291, 1296, and 1299. Sir John Mascy of Puddington was a soldier of considerable reputation in the French wars of the fourteenth century, and is mentioned by Holinshed among "those slain at Shrewsbury fight 4 Hen. IV. on the part of King Henry." William Massey, the last representative of this family, "was a zealous Catholic, and warmly attached to the cause of the Pretender to the English crown; and is traditionally said to have fled home after the battle of Preston, and to have effected his escape to Wirrall, by a desperate attempt at swimming his horse over the Mersey below Hooton. This brave horse is said to have dropped down dead as it reached the stable door. He was seized at Puddington Hall, and imprisoned in Chester Castle, and shortly afterwards died, having bequeathed his estates to his godson, Thomas Stanley, who assumed the name of Massey in succeeding to them."—Ormerod. They are now vested in his last descendant, Sir John Massey Stanley Errington.

The Massies of Coddington (of whom came the families of Rosthorne, Poole, &c.) are said to be a younger branch of the house of Puddington, and derive from Hugh de Masci, who married the heiress of Coddington in the time of Richard II. They had "a very fine and large demesne, with a house answerable unto it"; this is now pulled down, but "the manor has descended uninterruptedly to the present proprietor."—Ibid. The Massies of Poole are also still represented. Thus the brave old Cheshire name is carried on when well nigh all its compeers have perished; and its bearers are now "perhaps the only remnant in the direct male line of the posterity of any of the Palatinate Barons."—E. P. Shirley.

Edward Massie, the fifth son of John Massie of Coddington and Anne Grosvenor his wife, was an officer of great ability and considerable note in the Civil War. He began life fighting under the Royal banner; but "finding," says Clarendon, "that there would be little gotten but in the comfort of a good conscience, he went to London, where there was more money and fewer officers;" and taking service under the Earl of Stamford, was at once made a Lieutenant-Colonel and appointed Governor of the City of Gloucester. Clarendon further tells us how he inveigled the King to besiege him there by the hopes of a speedy surrender; and then, answering his summons by an insolent defiance, held the place till the garrison was reduced to its last barrel of powder, and he was relieved by Lord Essex. This long and obstinate defence, for which he received the thanks of both Houses, was of the greatest service to the Parliament; and he achieved another success at Ledbury, where he had a hand-to-hand encounter with Prince Rupert. "The Prince," he says, "sent me word by my trumpeter that I sent, that in the fight he sought me out, but knew me not till after, no more than I knew him. But it seems we charged each other, and he shot my horse under me, and I did as much for him."

In 1647 he was a Major-General, with a seat in the House of Commons, where he obtained great influence, and was thrown into prison for taking part against Cromwell. He managed, however, to make his escape to Holland, and had the effrontery to present himself to the Prince as a sufferer for the King his father. The sincerity of the repentant rebel was never questioned, as his interest and abilities were of the highest value; he was received with open arms, permitted to retain his rank, and entrusted with the command of a regiment of horse under the Duke of Buckingham. He was severely wounded at the outset of his new career; and after the fatal battle of Worcester rode six miles with the King "but not being able to keep pace with him any longer, the King took his leave with tears trickling down his cheeks, saying, 'Farewell my dear and faithful friend, the Lord bless and preserve us both!' and so they parted. The Major-General wheeled off by way of Bromsgrove, but being unable from the anguish of his wounds and excessive weariness to travel further, he threw himself on the mercy of the Countess of Stamford, and was received as a prisoner at Bradgate."—Ormerod.

His wounds were believed to be mortal, but he survived to make a last unsuccessful attempt to seize Gloucester for the King. The stormy and tempestuous night, which was in a great measure the cause of his failure, helped to save his own life. "He had been seized by a troop of horse, and was conveyed by them towards his prison, being bound on his horse before a trooper. In the darkest part of the night, in a wooded and hilly defile, he contrived to throw the soldier from his horse, and disentangling himself from his hold, by means of his strength and agility secured his retreat into the woods."—Ibid. He was yet living in 1670—apparently in Ireland, as he was buried at Abbey Leix.

Contemporary with him, but whether or no related I am unable to determine, was another General Massy, who settled in Ireland, where he held a military command in 1641. His two great-grandsons each received an Irish peerage. The elder, Hugh, was created Lord Massy of Duntry-League, county Limerick, in 1776; and his brother, Eyre, who had done good service at Culloden and elsewhere, and been Marshal of the army in Ireland, was created Lord Clarina in 1800. Both of them have representatives.

  1. Puddington had been granted by William Rufus; and the following curious entry (found in the Harleian MSS. 2079) purports to be a copy of his charter:

    "I William king of Englande do give unto Massy all my right interest & title of hoppland for me and mine to thee and thine, with bonds and limits from Heaven above to hell beneath, to hold of me and mine with Bow and Arrow when I shoot upon them; and for witness of ye troth, I have sealed with my wang" (sic) "tooth. in the presence of Maude and divers others."

-- Cleveland

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