Edward Massey

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Edward Massey
Edward Massie.jpg
Sir Edward Massey
Bornc. 1619
Diedc. 1674
Charles II, King of England
Battles/wars= Highnam; Siege of Gloucester; Taynton; Ledbury Taunton;Battle of Langport; Battle of Inverkeithing; Battle of Worcester

Sir Edward Massey (c. 1619–1674) was an English soldier and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1646 and 1674. He fought for the Parliamentary cause for the first and second English Civil Wars before changing allegiance and fighting for King Charles II during the Third Civil War. During the Interregnum, he was active for the Royalist cause. After the Restoration, he was knighted and was active in public life, as a member of parliament and occasionally in military and administrative affairs.[1]

Early life[edit]

Edward Massey was the fifth son of John Massey of Coddington, Cheshire and his wife Anne Grosvenor, daughter of Richard Grosvenor of Eaton, Cheshire.[2] He may have been a London apprentice before serving in the Dutch army against the armies of Philip III of Spain, who ruled the Spanish Netherlands (see Dutch Revolt). In 1639, he appears as a captain of pioneers in the army raised by Charles I of England to fight against the Scots. At the outbreak of the English Civil War, he was with the King at York, but he soon joined the Parliamentary army.[1][3]

Parliamentary soldier[edit]

As lieutenant colonel under the Earl of Stamford, Massey became deputy governor of Gloucester, where he remained till towards the end of the First Civil War, becoming governor early in 1643. He conducted minor operations against numerous small bodies of Royalists, and conducted the defence of Gloucester against the King's main army, in August 1643, with great steadiness and ability, receiving the thanks of parliament and a grant of £1,000 for his services. In 1644, Massey continued to keep the field and to disperse the local Royalists, and on several occasions he measured swords with Prince Rupert. In May 1644, he was made general of the forces of the Western Association. In 1645, he took the offensive against Lord Goring and the western Royalists, advanced to the relief of Taunton, and in the autumn cooperated effectively with Sir Thomas Fairfax and the New Model Army in the Langport campaign.[1]

After taking part in the desultory operations that closed the first war, he was elected Member of Parliament for Wootton Bassett.[1][3][4]

Royalist soldier[edit]

Massey then began to take an active part in politics on the Presbyterian side, and was one of the generals who was impeached by the army on the grounds that they were attempting to revive the Civil War in the Presbyterian interests. He fled England in June 1647 and, though he resumed his seat in the house in 1648, he was again excluded by Pride's Purge, and after a short imprisonment escaped to Holland. Thence, taking the side of Royalists openly and definitely. Like many other Presbyterians, he accompanied Charles II to Scotland.[1]

He fought against Cromwell's army at the bridge of Stirling and Inverkeithing, and commanded the advanced guard of the Royalist army in the invasion of England in 1651. It was hoped that Massey's influence would win over the towns of the Severn valley to the cause of the King, and the march of the army on Worcester was partly inspired by this expectation. At the Battle of Worcester, he was seriously wounded, and when Massey realised that his wounds were dangerously slowing King Charles II down during his escape, he persuaded Charles to continue without him, although the king was reluctant to leave him.[1]

Massey was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He again managed to escape to Holland. While negotiating with the English Presbyterians for the restoration of Charles, he visited England twice, in 1654 and 1656.[1] He was arrested in England for his part in Booth's Uprising in 1659, but was able to escape for a third time. After his escape, while hiding in London, he encouraged the discontent that led to the soldier's mutiny over pay on 1 February 1660.[5][6]


In 1660, Massey was elected MP for Gloucester in the Convention Parliament,[3] and was active in preparing for Charles's return. He was awarded a knighthood on 27 May 1660 and a grant of £3,000.[1] In 1661, he was re-elected MP for Gloucester in the Cavalier Parliament.[3] The rest of his life was spent in political, and occasionally in military and administrative business.[1]

He was unmarried, and died in 1674 at Abbeyleix in Ireland, where he had been granted the manor .[4][7] He was a close friend of the leading judge Sir Jerome Alexander, another Englishman who had settled in Ireland; Alexander at his death in 1670 left Massey a number of valuables, such as "my cane with the silver head of a rhinoceros".[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chisholm 1911, p. 867.
  2. ^ Helms 1983 cites: Burke, Commoners, iii. 45–47; Ormerod, Cheshire, ii. 731-2.
  3. ^ a b c d Helms 1983.
  4. ^ a b "MASSEY, Edward (c.1619-74), of Abbeyleix, Queen's Co., Ireland". History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  5. ^ Helms 1983 cites: DNB; Clarendon, Rebellion, iii. 130; v. 537; Thurloe, iii. 165, 177–178; D. Underdown, Royalist Conspiracy, 261-4, 309.
  6. ^ Pepys, Wednesday 1 February 1659/60.
  7. ^ Helms 1983 cites: Grey, ii. 119, 385-6; Portland mss. BL Loan 29/83, Strettell to Harley, 5 Dec. 1674.



Further reading[edit]

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Wootton Bassett
With: Edward Poole
Succeeded by
Not represented in Rump Parliament
Preceded by
Member of Parliament for Gloucester
With: James Stephens 1660
Evan Seys 1661–1674
Succeeded by