Answers to Questions


MASSEY, St Albans, circa 1866-1930

February 2002



St Albans

Carol Dilley (carol.dilley @t of Biggleswade, Beds, asks: You have a review of St Albans, The Official Guide, on this site.  I have been to my local bookshop to try and purchase this, but they can find no record of it. The article I am mainly interested in is the piece about E A Massey - Timber Merchants. Could you tell me more info about the book itself, e.g. Publisher; or where I could get a copy of the book.  Alternatively, could I get a copy of the article anywhere?.

The Guide is just what it says it is. Most towns of any size have published guides promoting the town, its industries and/or tourist attractions - with new editions every few years. Such guides often turn up for a pound or two in a miscellaneous guides box in a second hand bookshop - but locating one for a particular year for a particular town is virtually impossible. For instance, when I was researching Tring in 1947 I discovered that the Town Council had printed 500 copies of a new edition of a town guide in that year - but could I find a copy - not on your life. There was no copy in the Council Offices, none in the Local Studies Collections at HALS, Hemel Hempstead or Watford (which, however had later editions), and none in the British Library (which should, in theory, have had a copyright copy).

In the case of the St Albans Guide I posted details to demonstrate how useful such local guides can be. The St Albans Central Library has an exceptional collection of local books - which may we'' include a copy of the same edition that I have. However, to save you the bother I am posting details on Massey, Timber Merchant.

As the text also says that it is an old-established firm I looked up some of the 19th century Kelly's trade directory references:

The 1881 census shows that Charles Massey was a master timber merchant employing 15 men and 5 boys. He was born in Whitfield, Gloucestershire in about 1825 and if he is the same Charles Massey who was in the Royal Oak he presumably came to St Albans in the first half of the 1860's

December 2007

C. McGonigal (cimcg @t of Rye provides additional information: Charles Massey came to Hertfordshire sometime between March 1849 when his first child was born in Gloucestershire and January 1851 when his 2nd child was born in Shenley, initially as an Ag. Lab. By March 1853 he was a farmer in Shenley, with 16 acres and employing 3 men by 1861. He moved to St Albans between July 1861 when twins were born in Shenley and April 1863 when their 8th and last child was born in Fishpool Street and Charles was a Timber Dealer. In April 1871 the Masseys were living on the North side of Fishpool St.; by 1881 they had moved to Osborne Terrace, New London Rd. Charles died in March 1885 and Mary his widow carried on the business till at least 1891. After her death in 1898 it was carried on by David and Albert Massey.

It would appear that young George Massey, son of Charles Massey was involved in Throwing Stones in Fishpool Street, St Albans in 1865.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

Page updated December 2007