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William Nathaniel Massey (1809 – 25 October 1881) was a British barrister, author and Liberal politician.

Massey studied law, being admitted as a student at the Inner Temple in 1826, and was called to the bar in 1844.[1] 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 1852 as a member for Newport, Isle of Wight. In 1857 he became MP for Salford. In 1855 he was appointed Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department during the first ministry of Lord Palmerston.[1] He held the office until March 1858 when the Conservatives came to power, and Lord Derby formed his second government.[1] He continued to reprsent Salford in the Commons until 1865, and was appointed Chairman of Committees of the Whole House.[1]

In 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 colony, and was sworn onto the Privy Council. He retired from the council in 1868.[1]

Massey returned to parliament in 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.

He died at his London home in Chester Square in October 1881.[1]


  • Common sense versus common law. London, Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1850.
  • A history of England, during the reign of George the Third. London, J.W. Parker and son, 1855-63.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Obituary". The Times (London): p. 9. 27 October 1881.  
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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