MASSEY, Robert (1510/11-58), of Maesmynan, Denb. and Flint.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. 1510/11, yr. s. of Robert Massey of Coddington, Cheshire by Dorothy, da. of Hugh Calverley of Lea, Cheshire. educ. ?Camb. BA 1530-1, MA 1533. m. by 1556, Grace, 2da.3

Offices Held

Servant, household of Stephen Gardiner by 1534-55; commr. goods of churches and fraternities, Flints. 1553; sheriff, Denb. 1553-4; j.p. Flints. 1555.4


Robert Massey was a younger son in a minor Cheshire family. As several of his relatives were educated at Cambridge, it was probably he who in the early 1530s obtained two degrees from that university, and while there he could have come to the notice of Stephen Gardiner. Between 1535 and 1538 he accompanied Gardiner on embassies abroad and on several occasions served as a courier between Gardiner and Cromwell. He remained in the bishop’s service, probably as a gentleman usher, being mentioned several times as a bearer of letters and in 1547 of a proclamation: in 1551 he was receiving £6 13s.4d. in wages and an annuity of £4 towards his livery. Under Gardiner’s will he received a small legacy equivalent to one year’s wages and he attended the bishop’s funeral, first at Southwark and later at Winchester.5

It was as Gardiner’s servant that Massey sat in the Commons; although he owned some property both in Flint and the county and could expect support from his brother-in-law Thomas Salusbury and his kinsmen the Hanmers and Mostyns, his local standing was insufficient to account for his successive elections. The first of these may have been held before the news of Gardiner’s committal to the Fleet on 25 Sept. 1547 reached North Wales. This cannot have been conducive to Massey’s comfort as a Member, but the fact that he was allowed to take his seat is a measure of the leniency then being shown to the bishop. As master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Gardiner was interested in the bill for uniting it with Clare Hall introduced during the second session: when Massey was questioned about this bill at the bishop’s trial he replied that he ‘was present in the parliament house at such time as there was a bill put into the Lower House for the putting down ... or annexing the same, as he remembreth, to Clare Hall in Cambridge: which bill being read according the order of the House was reverted ... And otherwise he cannot tell’. On Gardiner’s deprivation Massey lost his annuity out of the bishopric of Winchester but not his seat in the Commons, his name appearing on the list of Members for the final session. When early in 1553 the Duke of Northumberland called the second Parliament of the reign Gardiner was in the Tower and predictably Massey found no place in it, but on Mary’s accession he shared in his master’s recovery of power, being returned knight for Flintshire to the Queen’s first Parliament and immediately afterwards pricked sheriff of the adjacent county of Denbighshire. It was not his shrievalty, but probably a dispute between his brother-in-law Thomas Salusbury and Edward Stanley II over mills at Flint, which explains his nomination and return for Scarborough in the spring of 1554. The precaution was to prove unnecessary as he was again elected for the Flint Boroughs, but if, as is likely, he opted for Scarborough there may have been a by-election in the Boroughs, although no evidence of it survives; he was re-elected there in the following autumn and a year later gained the knighthood of the shire. Understandably, Massey’s name is not to be found among those of Members who opposed the government; his sole mention in the Journal is on 5 Jan. 1555 when one of his servants obtained a writ of privilege from arrest. He must have been absent from the House on the following 21 Nov. when Gardiner was buried at Southwark.6

In 1544 Massey had bought the manor of Maesmynan, Denbighshire, from the crown for £118; 11 years later he leased a Staffordshire manor. Early in Edward VI’s reign he sued Peter Mytton over the parsonage of Meliden, Flintshire, and later he was involved in a dispute over his lands at Maesmynan. He died on 9 Oct. 1558, leaving as his heir a daughter aged two. In 1560 his widow obtained the wardship of their two children with an annuity of £4 towards their maintenance: their inheritance was then valued at £7 5s.8d.7

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Authors: Alan Davidson / A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Sat for Scarborough or Flint Boroughs.
  • 3. Aged 40 in January 1551, Foxe, Acts and Mons. vi. 221. Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 59, 175-6; Vis. Cheshire (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. lviii), 176; CPR, 1558-60, pp. 333-4; C142/120/53.
  • 4. Foxe, vi. 221; LP Hen. VIII, x; CPR, 1553, p. 419; SP11/5/6.
  • 5. LP Hen. VIII, x, xii, xiii; Letters of Stephen Gardiner, ed. Muller, 79-80, 286-7, 511; Foxe, vi. 36, 121, 125, 221; PCC 3 Noodes.
  • 6. Foxe, vi. 221; CJ, i. 40.
  • 7. LP Hen. VIII, xix; CPR, 1554-5, p. 342; 1555-7, pp. 34, 38; 1558-60, pp. 333-4; C1/1245/36-37, 1369/37-39; 142/120/53; H. M. C. Jones-Mortimer, Sheriffs, Denb. 48-49.