Massey Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This primarily English and Scottish name has three separate origin theories or meanings. First, it is a locational or habitational name meaning “of Mascy”, denoting a person who came from a town so named. It was a Norman last name that came from France to England during Norman Invasion of England led by William the Conqueror in 1066 AD. There are several different places in Normandy, France that may be the name sake of the name, including Mace-sur-Orne, Macei in Avranches, Marcei in Argentan, Macey in La Manche, or Marcei on the Broise. These places may be named after Matheus’s estate. Second, different origin theory or meaning is that this surname derives from the Gallo-Roman/Latin personal (first) name Massius, itself derived from the Biblical masculine given named Matthew (from a Greek/Hebrew name meaning “gift of Yahweh”, Matthew was one of the twelve apostles and considered the author of the first gospel of the New Testament). Third, it may be a spelling variant of the French surname Massé (a habitational name from places so called in France, or an metonymic occupational name deriving from the French word masse, meaning mace or hammer). This family first became established in county Cheshire, England, where, according to the book The Noble and Gentle Men of England by Evelyn Philip Shirley, “Hugh Massie, who married Agnes, daughter and heir of Nicholas Bold, of Coddington. Their son William purchased the manor of Coddington in the eighteenth of Henry VI”. They family also held seat at the manor of Backford during the 1200 and 1300s AD. The family also held seat at Birkenhead, where Hamon de Massey was the 3rd Baron of Dunham Massey in the middle of the twelfth century AD.
Charles Vincent Massey, Governor-General of Canada (1887-1967)
Wikipedia has an article on the family that states the following: “The Massey families are prominent Canadian and American (North Carolina and Indiana) families. The Canadian Massey family was known for the manufacture of farm equipment and for being patrons of the arts in Canada. The company which they founded went on to become Massey Ferguson. One North Carolina group of Masseys are descended from Thomas Massey, who migrated from Cheshire, England to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1683 on the sloop Endeavor”.
Some spelling variants of this Old French name or names with similar etymologies include Massie, Massy, Massay, Maissey, Masey, Mascy, Massye, Masse, and several others.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Massey ranks 568th in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following four states: Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Alabama. The surname Massey frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (559th), Scotland (1,305th), Wales (625th), Ireland (1,045th) and Northern Ireland (638th). In England, it ranks highest in county Cheshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in Lanarkshire. In Wales, it ranks highest in Denbighshire and Cardiganshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in county Wicklow. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Down. The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (1,784th), New Zealand (1,096th), Australia (1,314th), and South Africa (3,527th). Henry Brougham Guppy’s 1890 book Homes of Family Names in Great Britain states the following in regard to this last name: “The Masseys have their principal home in Cheshire, whence they have spread to the neighboring counties. There are many families, often distinct, as, for instance, the Masseys of Grafton, Poole, Backford, Puddington, Sale, etc., who carry their pedigrees back three centuries and more (O.). The name of Massey is frequent in the list of the mayors and sheriffs of Chester from the 15th to the 19th century”.
Early Bearers of the Surname
In 1221 AD, Hugo Mascy of Huntingdonshire and John de Maci of Middlesex, England were both documented. William Massy was recorded in Nottinghamshire in 1330 AD. The History of East Cheshire documents one Robert de Mascy of Tatton and America de Mascy, both in the year 1353 AD. The Register of the University of Oxford lists James Massye in county Lancashire in 1583. It also lists Gerard Massye in county Cheshire in 1588. The Wills at Chester lists one John Massie of Shocklach, a husbandman, in 1592 AD and Alice Massey of Manchester in 1609 AD. A one George Massie was recorded in Stevinsburne, Scotland in 1633 AD.
Massey Family Tree & Massey Genealogy
The following is a discussion of seven different noble, royal, landed, or aristocratic families bearing this last name.
Massey of Pool Hall
The lineage or ancestry of this branch of the Massey family tree traces back to Roger Massie, an Esquire of Coddington. He had a son named Roger Massey who married Mary Edwards of Chester, and had two sons with her. One son was also named Roger. This son Roger in turn had a son named Reverend William Massey. William was the Rector of Ditchingham in Norfolk, who married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Francis Elcocke of White Pool, and had four issue with her as follows: Venerable Roger (Archdeacon of Barnstaple, married Anne Arnold and had a son named John and four daughters with her), William (inherited his mother’s estates), Elizabeth, and Sarah. He was succeeded by his son, William Massey, Esquire of Pool Hall, who in 1817, married Mary, daughter and heir of John Goodman of Porthamel, Anslesey, Wales, and fathered three children with her: Francis Elcocke, William Glynne (died in India), and Margaret Henrietta Maria (married William Massey, son of Richard Massey of Moston Hall). He died in 1838. His son Francis Elcocke Massey who was an Esquire of Pool Hall, county Chester, was a Justice of the Peace born in December of 1822. In 1867, he married Caroline Louisa, daughter of William Henry Hornby, Member of Parliament for Blackburn, and had four children with her as follows: William Francis Elcocke, Maud Henrietta Margaret Elcocke, Mabel Caroline Elcocke, and Eveleen Mary Elcocke. The Massey Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Massey Family Crest or Massey Family Shield by those unfamiliar with heraldry and genealogy) is blazoned in the medieval European art of heraldry as follows: 1st and 4th, quarterly, gules and or; in 1st and 4th quarters, three fleur-de-lis argent; for difference a canton argent for Massey; 2nd and 3rd, gules, a saltier vair between four cocks statant argent, for Elcocke. Crest: A demi-pegasus with wings displayed, quarterly or and gules. This family was seated at Pool Hall, near Nantwich, county Chester, England in modern day United Kingdom in the British Isles of Europe (once called Great Britain).
Massie of Coddington
This branch of the Massie family tree traces has a disputed lineage/pedigree. Some claim they descend from the younger son of Sir John Massie of Tatton. Others claim they descend from Hamon, son of Sir John Massie of Puddington. In both theories, these two progenitors died in the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1401 AD, which was a battle in the Middle Ages between Lancastrian King Henry VI and the rebel army of Henry/Harry “Hotspur” Percy of Northumberland. A one Hugh Massie lived at Coddington when he married Agnes, daughter and heiress of Sir Nicholas Bold of Coddington. One of his direct descendants was John Massie. John was an Esquire of Coddington Hall who married Anne, eldest daughter of Richard Grosvenor of Eaton and Christiana Brooke, and had eleven sons and seven daughters with her! One of his sons was General Edward Massie, a prominent military figure during the English Civil Wars during the reign of King Charles I. However, his heir was another son named Roger. This Roger Massie was born in about 1602 and was an Esquire of Coddington. In 1649, he married Mary, daughter of Roger Middleton of Cadwgan, county Denbigh, Wales, and had issue with her as follows: John (his heir), 2) Roger (ancestor of the Masseys of Pool Hall), and Edward (of Rosethorne, married Sarah Marshall of Wisbech, had six issue). He was succeeded by his eldest son John Massie, an Esquire, born in 1651. He married Elizabeth, his third wife, the daughter of John Puleston of Pickhill, and had a son with her named Richard. Richard Massie was an Esquire of Coddington who, in 1735, married Charlotte, daughter of Reverend Thomas Lloyd of Plas Power, Wales, and had a son with her named John. John was an Esquire of Coddington born in 1736. He died without posterity in 1773 and his estates devolved upon his brother, Thomas Massie. Thomas was an Esquire of Coddington who was born in 1738. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Nathaniel Marriot, of Cheshunt, and died in 1802, leaving one child named Richard. This son, the Reverend Richard Massie of Coddington, was born in 1771 and was the Rector of Eccleston. In 1796, he married Hester Lee, daughter of Edward V. Townsend of Wincham Hall, county Chester, and had numerous issue with her as follows: 1) Richard (see below), 2) Thomas Leche (Admiral of Royal Navy, married Charlotte Hester Townsend, had issue named Edward Richard, Richard Crosbie, and Cleopatra Maude), 3) Edward (married Sophia, daughter of Reverend Charles Thornycroft), 4) William Henry (Rector of St. Mary’s Chester), 5) Townshend, 6) John Bevis (Lieutenant of the Royal Navy), 7) Watkin, 8) Charles, 9) George, 10) Robert George (married Annette, daughter of T. Brown of Hartlands, Australia, had issue named Hugh Hamon, Godfrey Egerton, Richard de Winton, Robert, Hester Lee, Mabel, and Lucy), 11) Hugh Hamon, 12) Henry, 13) Eliza Ann (married William T. Buchanan of Chester and Northcote), 14) Hester Susannah (married Reverend John Armistead, Vicar of Sandbach), 15) Frances Maria (married Reverend G.B. Blomefield, Prebendary of Chester, Rector of Stevenage), 16) Sidney, 17) Barbara Henrietta, 18) Cornelia Lee, 19) Harriet Vyse (married Lawrence Armistead of Cranage Hall in 1829), 20) Anna Maria, 21) Charlotte, and 22) Mary Mackenzie. He died in 1854. His son Richard Massie was an Esquire of Pulford Hall, county Chester, who was born in 1800. In 1834, he married Mary Anne, daughter of Hugh Robert Hughes of Bache Hall, county Chester, England. The Massie Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Massie Family Crest) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Quarterly, gules and or: 1st and 4th, three fleurs-de-lis argent, for difference a canton argent. Crest: A demi-pegasus with wings displayed quarterly or and gules. The family was seated at Pulford Hall, Wrexham, England (modern day United Kingdom, once called Great Britain).
Kingswell House, Tipperary
Massy of Kingswell
Reverend William Massy, son of Reverend Godfrey Masst, married Bessie, daughter of Henry Evan of Limerick, had a son named Charles. This Charles Massy married Margaret Spread Cummins and had a son with her named John. John Massy lived at Kingswell, near Tipperary, Ireland by the 1860s. He was born in 1810. The lands previously belonged to the Sadlier family. In the 1870s, John owned around 1,300 acres of land in county Tipperary and about 430 acres of land in county Limerick. In 1832, he married Alicia, daughter of Captain Chadwick of Chadville, and had seven children with her as follows: Charles Henry (fought in the Russian War in the 77th regiment), Richard Albert (born 1840), John (born 1848), Margaret Alicia, Alicia Victoria, Melicina Rebecca, and Frances Elizabeth. The Massy Coat of Arms is blazoned as follows in the medieval art of heraldry: Argent, on a chevron, between three lozenges, sable, a lion passant, or. Crest: A bull’s head, gules, issuing out of a ducal coronet, or. Motto: Pro libertate patriae. They were seated at Kingswell House, county Tipperary, Ireland.
Hugh Massy, 1st Baron Massy of Duntrileague (1700-1788)
The lineage or ancestry of this family traces back to General Hugh Massy, who was a military commander that suppressed the rebellion of 1641, who claimed to descend from Hamon, one of the companions of William the Conqueror during the Norman Invasion of England in 1066 AD. General Hugh married Margaret Percy, and had a son with her named Hugh Massy of Duntrileague. This son Hugh married Amy, daughter of John Benson, and had issue with her as follows: Hugh (his heir), John (of Knockaneevan), William (of Stoneville), Charles (Dean of Limerick, progenitor of the Massy Baronets), Margaret (married William Baker), and Amy (married George Benson). The eldest son and heir, Colonel Hugh Massy of Duntrileague, county Limerick, Ireland, was born in 1685. He married Elizabeth, daughter of George Evans, and had four daughters and six sons with her. His six sons were as follows: 1) Hugh (see below), 2) George (Archdeacon of Ardfert, married Jane, daughter of Simon Purdon), 3) John (died in a duel), 4) Reverend Godfrey (Prebendary of Lismacue, ancestor of Massy of Kingswell), 5) William (married Mary, daughter of Eyre Evans of Portrane), and Eyre (raised to the peerage as Lord Clarina). His eldest son was Hugh Massy, the 1st Baron Massey, who represented county Limerick, Ireland in Parliament and was elevated to the Peerage of Ireland in 1776. He was born in 1700. In 1733, he first married Mary, daughter and heiress of James Dawson of Ballynacourte, and had issue with her as follows: Hugh (2nd Baron), James Massy-Dawson (born 1736, married Mary Leonard, had issue) and others. Hugh, 2nd Baron Massy, was born in April 1733. In 1760, he married Catherine, daughter and co-heiress of Edward Taylor of Ballynort, and had issue with her: Hugh (3rd Baron), Edward (married Catharine, daughter of John Villiers Tuthill of St. John’s Island), and others. Several generations down the lineage came Hugh Hamon Charles George Massy, Baron Massy, of Duntrileague, county Limerick, Ireland, was born in 1894 and educated at Harrow College. He succeeded his father as the 8th Baron in 1926. In 1919, he married Margaret, daughter of Richard Leonard of Meadsbrook, and had issue a son with her named Hugh. This son, Hugh Hamon John Somerset was born in 1921 and educated at Clongowes Wood College. He served in World War II. In 1943, he married Margaret, daughter of John Flower of Barry, Meath, and had a son with her named David Harom Somerset Massey, the 9th Baron Massy, born in 1947. The Massy Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Massy Family Crest by those unfamiliar with heraldry and genealogy) has the following heraldic blazon: Argent, on a chevron, between three lozenges, sable, a lion, passant or. Crest: Out of a ducal coronet, or, a bull’s head, gules, armed, sable. Supporters: Dexter, a lion; sinister, a leopard, reguardant, both proper, and collared and chained, or. Motto: Pro libertate patriae. This family was seated at Killakee, Rathfarnham, county Dublin, and Hermitage, Castle Connell, county Limerick, Ireland.
Hugh Dillon Massey, 2nd Baronet of Donass, County Clare, MP (1767-1842)
Sir Hugh Dillon Massy was born in 1740, the son of Very Reverend Charles Massy, the Dean of Limerick and Ardfert. Sir Hugh was an Anglo-Irish politician who was made a Baronet of Donass, county Clare, in the Baronetage of Ireland in 1782. He married Elizabeth Stacpoole, daughter of George John Baptista and Mary Massy. They had a son also named Hugh Dillion, who was born in 1767 and became the 2nd Baronet. In 1797, he was elected to the Irish House of Commons as the Member of Parliament for Clare. In 1796, he married Sarah Hankey, daughter of Thomas Hankey and Mary Wyver, and had a son with her. This son was also named Sir Hugh Dillon Massy. He was the 3rd Baronet and he lived from 1797 to 1870.
Other Massey Pedigree & Family Trees
Nicholas Massey was born in Coddington, Lancashire, England in around 1443. He married Agnes bold and the pedigree from him is as follows:
Thomas Massey (born in Wirswall, Cheshire, England in 1478)
Nicholas Massey (born in Coddington, Lancashire, around 1509)
Richard Massey (born in Ely, Cambridgeshire around 1530)
Richard Massey (born in Ely, England in 1543)
John Massey (born in Ely, England in 1589, married Sarah Birde and had issue named John, Elizabeth, Martin, Richard, Johanna, and Nicholas)
John Massey (born in Ely, England in 1616 and went to colonial Virginia where he married Francis Virginia, had issue named John Jr., John, Hezekiah, Joseph, and Richard)
John Massey (born in Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Virginia in 1650)
Richard Massey (born in Bristol, George, Virginia in around 1696, married Susannah Anne Pettypool, had children named John, Pettipool, William, Ann, Sarah, Martha, Richard, William, Tabitha (Cato), and Hezekiah
William Massey (born in Bristol Parish, Charles City, Virginia around 1715, had issue named Reuben and Pettipool)
Reuben Massey (born in Virginia around 1740, married Mary Molly Carter, had children named Edward and Elizabeth Mary)
Edward Massey (born in Hanover, VA in 1769, married Susannah Nelson, had issue named Pamela Nelson, Susan Edward, and Henry Carter)
Henry Carter Massey (born in Alabama in 1819, married Martha Jane Osborne)
Charles Carter Massey (born in Shelby County, Tennessee in 1862, married Jessie Irene Pope, had children named Urith Pope (Miller), Sallie Lou, Nell Isora (Bailey), and Elaine Elizabeth). His daughter Urith Pope Massey was born in Alabama in 1889 and she married William Andrew Miller. She passed away in Miami, Florida in 1960. She had a son named William Andrew Miller who was born in Mississippi in 1912 and passed away in 1982, having a daughter with Helen Marie Cook named Katherine (Miller) Easley.
La Ferte-Mace, Normandy, France
One of the earliest known ancestors of the Massey/Massy family was Guillaume “Seigneur de la Ferte-Mace” who was born around 1026 AD. He may be the son of William d’Alecnon of Talvas and Hildeburge de Beaumont. He married Muriel (Conteville) Montaigne and had issue with her as follows: Margaret, Hugues, Mathiewu, Hamon, and Robert. His son Hamon Massey or de Mascy de la Ferte-Mace was born in Dunham Massey, Bucklow, county Cheshire, England around 1076 AD. He married Margaret Sacie and had the following issue with her: Margaret, Hamon, Robert, John, and Isabel. His son Hamon II was born in Cheadle, Cheshire, England around 1100 AD. He married Eleanor Beaumont and had sons with her as follows: Hamon, John, and Robert. His son Hamon III was born in Dunham Massey, Bucklow, England around 1129 AD. He married Agatha Theray and had the following issue with her: Agatha (Helsby), Isabel (Dutton), Cecilia (Fitton), Hugh, Hamon, and Cecily (de Carrington). His son Hamon Massey IV was born in the same town in around 1776 AD. He married Margaret Mainwairing and had issue with her as follows: Agnes (Dutton), Cecily (Smythe), and Hamon. His son Hamon V was born in Dunham Massy, Bucklow, county Cheshire, England around 1212 AD. He married Alice Whitney and had three sons with her: Hamon, William, and Robert. His son Sir William Massey or Massy or Tatton was born around 1230 AD. He married Margery Mainwaring and had sons with her named Richard and Robert. His son Robert of Tatton was born in Tatton, county Cheshire around 1260 AD. He had two sons: William and Hamon. His son William was born in Tatton, Cheshire and had a son named Hugh, whereas his son Hamon was born in Tatton, Cheshire around 1291 and he had a son named Richard Mascy of Rixton. Richard Mascy was born in Rixton, Lancashire, England around 1348 AD. He married Matila de Horton and had a son with her named Hamnet. Hamnet married Eleanor de Horton and had a son with her named William. William Mascy was born around 1405. He married Parnell de Warburton and had a son with her named Hamon. Hamon Mascy was born in Puddington, Wirral, Cheshire. He married Joanne Booth and had a son with her named Hamon who was born around 1432. He married Elizabeth Boteler and had a daughter with her named Margaret who was born in 1475, and she married John Holcroft and had three children with her named Margaret (Gerard), John, and Thomas.
Early American and New World Settlers
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions one bearer of this last name: Jeffrey Massey of Salem, Massachusetts, who was one of the first members there, and was a freeman in 1634. He was a clerk of the market in 1642. Her died in 1677 at the age of 84. He had a son named John in 1631. Other settlers in colonial America bearing this surname include Edward Massey (Virginia 1634), Ralph Massy (Virginia 1666), William Massy (Virginia 1666), William Massey (Virginia 1701), Sarah Massey (Philadelphia 1701), Anne Massey (Virginia 1714), Leigh Massey (Maryland 1722), and Lee Massey (Virginia 1766).
In Canada, some of the earliest settlers bearing this last name were Jonathan, Ann, and William Massey, who were United Empire Loyalists (people who remained loyal to the British Crown during the American Revolution) who came in 1783 aboard the HMS Clinton from State Island, New York and arrived in Shelbourne, Nova Scotia. In Australia, one of the first bearers was Leah Massey, who came to Adelaide aboard the Delhi in 1839. In 1851, James Massey, a convict from Liverpool, England, came aboard the Aboukir in 1851 to Van Diemen’s Land (modern day Tasmania). In New Zealand, James, Rachel, and Fred Massey came to the city of Auckland aboard the Aloe in 1863. In 1864, another family bearing this name, including John and Catherine Massey, came to the city of Auckland aboard the Portland.
Early Americans Bearing the Massey Family Crest
Charles Bolton’s American Armory (1927), Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook (1907), and Crozier’s General Armory (1904) do not contains any entries for this last name.
I have identified two Massey family mottoes:
1) Pro libertate patria (For the liberty of my country)
2) Nunquam fallentis termes Olivae (The olive crop is still as fickle as the English hop crop)*
3) Fidem servabo genusque (I will preserve my faith and race) (Massey of Watton, Norfolk)
*This is an excerpt from the Odes and Epodes of Horace, the Roman lyric poet
We have 17 coats of arms for the Massey surname depicted here. These 17 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848. The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Massey Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Massey Family Crest)
1) Masey (Heard), of Wrenton, county Somerset, 1761, Quarterly to Heard, 1774
2) Massey after Oliver, Richard M., of Melton Lodge, Melton Mowbray, county Leicestershire, 1846
3) Massey-Mainwaiting, William Frederick Barton, of county Durham and Surrey, England, 1874
4) Massey-Stanley now Errington, Baronet, of county Chester and Hampshire, 1877
There are hundreds of notable people with the Massey surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) Vice Admiral Sir Alan Michael Maassey (1953) who was a senior officer in the Royal Navy who was educated at the University of Liverpool and Britannia Royal Naval College, serving in the Afghanistan War and Iraq War, 2) Anna Raymond Massey (1937-2011) who was an English actress born in Thakeham, Sussex, who whose TV and film career spanned from 1958-2011, having won a BAFTA Award for her role in the TV adaption of Hotel du Lac, 3) Christopher Todd Massey (1979) who is a former American football player born in Chesapeake, West Virginia who played for three different teams in the NFL (primarily the St. Louis Rams) from 2002-2011, 4) William Ferguson Massey (1856-1925) was an Irish politician who served as the 19th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1912-1925, having been born in Limavady, County Londonderry, Ireland, 5) William Alexander Massey (1856-1914) who was a US Senator from Nevada from 1912-1913, born in Trumbull County, Ohio, 6) William Alfred Massey (1956) who is an African American mathematician born in Jefferson City, Missouri who is a professor at Princeton University who is an expert in queuing theory, 7) Sir Harrie Stewart Wilson Massey (1908-1983) who was an Australian mathematical physicist born in Invermay, Victoria who was educated at the University of Melbourne and Cambridge University, who worked in atomic and atmospheric physics, 8) Lieutenant General Hugh Royds Stokes Massy (1884-1965) who was a British Army officer educated at Bradfield College and the Royal Military Academy who fought in World War I and World War II, 9) Sylvia Lenore Massy is an American mixer, engineer, record producer, and entrepreneur born in Flint, Michigan who is best known for her work with Tool, System of a Down, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and 10) George Godfrey Massy Wheeler (1873-1915) who was a recipient of the Victorian Cross, a British military honor/distinction, for his service in World War I, having been born in Chakrata, India, raising to the rank of Major in the 7th Hariana Lancers.
Charles Carleton Massey, Barrister (1838-1905)
Sir Edward Massey (1619-1674)