William Nathaniel Massey

For other people named William Massey, see William Massey (disambiguation).

Rt Hon William Nathaniel Massey (3 June 1809 – 25 October 1881) was a British barrister, author and Liberal MP. His first wife was Frances Carleton (3 November 1806 –11 July 1872), and their son was Charles Carleton Massey (23 December 1838 –29 March 1905), the famous writer on spiritualism, psychic phenomena, mysticism and theosophy.

W. N. Massey studied law, being admitted as a student at the Inner Temple in November 1826, and was called to the bar in January 1844.[1] He married firstly in 1833, Frances Carleton, daughter of Rev John Orde. Massey practised on the Western Circuit and in 1852 was appointed recorder of Portsmouth and in 1855 of Plymouth.[1]

He first entered the House of Commons in July 1852 as a Liberal member for Newport, Isle of Wight. In April 1857 he became MP for Salford. In August 1855 he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department during the first ministry of Lord Palmerston, and became a member of Brooks's.[1] He held the office until March 1858 when the Conservatives came to power, and Lord Derby formed his second government. He continued to represent Salford in the Commons until 1865, and was appointed Chairman of Committees of the Whole House.[1] He purchased the old ruined estate at Old Basing House, Hampshire.

In January 1865 he left parliament to become a member of the Council of the Governor-General of India. He was nominated to the position of Minister for Finance in the British Raj, and was sworn onto the Privy Council. He retired from the council in 1868[1] and, joined the Athenaeum Club.

As a 'City Liberal' club member, Massey contested the constituency of Liverpool on 17 November 1868. But was finally returned to parliament in November 1872 as MP for Tiverton, a seat he held until his death.[1]

He was the author of A History of England under George III, which was published in four volumes between 1855 and 1863 and of Common Law versus Common Sense.[1]

Apart from his legal and parliamentary activities, he was chairman of St John's Hospital for Diseases of the Skin.

Shorlty before his last illness Massey married in 1880, Helen Henrietta, youngest daughter of the late Patrick Grant, Esq., Sheriff-Clerk of Inverness. He died at his London home, 96 Portland Place, in October 1881.[1]



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Obituary". The Times. London. 27 October 1881. p. 9.
Political offices
Preceded by
William Cowper
Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
1855 1858
Succeeded by
Gathorne Hardy
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Charles Martin
William Plowden
Member of Parliament for Newport, Hants
With: William Biggs
Succeeded by
Charles Mangles
Charles Buxton
Preceded by
Edward Ryley Langworthy
Member of Parliament for Salford
Succeeded by
John Cheetham
Preceded by
George Denman
John Heathcoat-Amory
Member of Parliament for Tiverton
1872 1881
With: John Heathcoat-Amory
Succeeded by
Viscount Ebrington
John Heathcoat-Amory
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