Massie of Coddington II

by Kenrick Armitstead

RICHARD MASSIE OF CODDINGTON was the only child of Thomas Massie of Coddington by his wife Elizabeth Marriot. Born 12 January 1771, he was educated at St John's College Cambridge and then ordained. After serving as curate at Coddington he was the incumbent of St Bridget's Chester 1810-32, Aldford 1811-32, Goostrey 1832-36 and Eccleston 1832-54. He held St Bridget's and Aldford in plurality, and was presented to Goostrey by his son-in-law, John Armitstead, resigning it four years later to his own son William Henry.

He married on 6 December 1796 Hester Lee Townshend, daughter of Edward Townshend of Wincham Hall, and raised a family of 22. He died at Eccleston on 16 April 1854. His wife once remarked, on reading an epitaph at Newcastle which ran "Some have many and some have few, here STANDS the mother of twenty-two." Having had a miscarriage between the births of her two youngest children, she was also in the habit of saying that she had had twenty-two children twice.

With such a large family, the older children were roped in to act as godparents to the younger ones, as the parents had by then run out of close friends to take on the job. Hester died at Pulford Hall at the age of 98; clearly child-bearing had had no adverse effect on her health.

I have two delightful watercolour portraits of Richard and Hester by Thomas Crane RA. He also painted some of the children. My cousin Bobby has those of Susan and Harriet, who both married Armitsteads, while Margery Price has those of some of the sons.

Children of Richard and Hester Massie

1. Eliza Anne 1797-1886
2. Susan Hester 1798-1887
3. Frances Maria 1799-1837
4. Richard 1800-1887
5. Sidney 1808(sic?)-1881
6. Thomas Leche 1801-1898
7. Barabara Henrietta 1803-1862
8. Cornelia Lee 1804-1818
9. Edward 1805-1893
10. William Henry 1806-1856
12. John Bevis 1809-1851
13. Harriet Vyse 1810-1836
14. Anne Maria 1813(sic?)-1847
15. Watkin 1812-1881
16. Charles 1813-1895
17. George 1814 d.inf.
18. Charlotte 1814-1845
19. Robert George 1815-1883
20. Hugh Hamon 1817-1899
21. Henry 1820-1821

Although it was such a large family, only four of these children have descendants living today. In the following narrative I deal first with those who died childless, next with the other two sons and then with the remaining daughter. The descendants of Susan Hester (2) and Harriet Vyse (13) have been dealt with in chapter one.

Eliza (1) married in 1832 Captain William Buchanan (1797-1863) of Ravenscourt, Chester, and later of Northcote, Gloucestershire, and officer with the 13th Light Dragoons who served in the peninsular war.

Richard, JP Cheshire, married on 7 January 1834 Mary Anne Hughes of The Bache, Chester. He inherited Coddington on his father's death, and left it to his nephew Edward. The following article was sent to me by Geoffrey Carlisle:

MASSIE Richard (Chester 1800-1887, Pulford Hall) came of an ancient Cheshire family, and was son of the Revd R Massie of Coddington, sometime recto of St Bridget's Chester and of Eccleston. A man of wealth and leisure, with three estates, Pulford Hall, Coddington and another near Wrexham, he devoted himself to literature. He published a translation of Luther's Spiritual Songs. He was somewhat eccentric and is remembered as wearing a red wig and a tall beaver hat. At one time he had been lame, and always carried a crutch even after he no longer had need of it. He had a noted rock garden, a rare thing in those days. He and his mother and sisters are remembered for their as remarkable for their quiet spirituality and saintliness.

Hymn 407 "From depths of woe I raise to Thee" (trans).

Sidney (5), Barbara (7) and Cornelia (8) died Unmarried. Edward (9) was ordained. He married in 1845 Sophia Thornycroft, daughter of Revd Charles Thornycroft of Thornycroft Hall by his wife Henrietta, daughter of the Hon. John Grey, son of the fourth Earl of Stamford and Warrington. Charles Thornycroft was born a Mytton and changed his name in accordance with Edward Thornycroft's will. He was rector of Eccleston from 1801 to 1832, when he was succeeded by Richard Massie. Edward was curate of Gawsworth, the Thornycroft parish, and assisted George Gilbert Scott with the restoration of the church. He died without issue in 1893.

William Henry (10) taught for some years at Macclesfield Grammar School, and was then commissioned into the Bengal Light Infantry on 12 November 1826, but was invalided out four years later. He went up to Trinity College Dublin, was then ordained, and in 1836 became vicar of Goostrey, succeeding his father who had held it in plurality with Eccleston, presumably keeping it warm for his as it were. When he arrived there he found his parishioners burning him in effigy, as they were disappointed that the living had not been given to someone who they thought had a better right to it.

While at Goostrey he was largely responsible for building the church at Byley, in a remote part of the parish, on a site presented by Sir CP Shakerley, Bart. He collected the funds with great labour, and was himself Architect, builder and clerk of the works. The church, in the rather ugly neo-norman style of the period, was consecrated on 14 October 1847. Shortly after this he was presented to the living of St Mary's on the Hill, Chester, and made a minor Canon of Chester. In addition to being a zealous and conscientious churchman he was a painstaking antiquary and the virtual founder of the Chester Archaeological and Architectural Society, contributing several valuable papers to its journal. He died unmarried on 5 January 1856 aged 49.

Towshend (11) died unmarried. John Bevis (12), a captain in the Royal Navy, died unmarried at 42. Anna Maria (14) died unmarried. Watkin (15) held a commission in the Bombay Artillery, which in pre-mutiny days was run by the East India Company. He was invalided in 1841, and appears to have emigrated to Australia after being presented with £1,000 by his aunt to supplement his pension. He died unmarried in England in 1881. George (16), Charles (17) and Charlotte (18) died unmarried. Hugh Hamon emigrated to Australia, and was a commissioner near Braidwood in 1854, dying unmarried in 1899.

Thomas Leche Massie and his Descendants

Thomas Leche, sixth child and second son of Richard and Hester, was born on 21 December 1802. He joined the Royal Navy and was promoted Lieutenant especially by Admiral Sir Edward Codrington after the battle of Navarino in 1827. Promoted Commander in 1837 on the occasion of Queen Victoria's coronation, he was captain of HMS Thunderer in operations off the coast of Syria, and took part in the bombardment of Sidon and St Jean d'Acre, after which he was promoted captain in 1841. He commanded HMS Cleopatra in India and China, and HMS Powerful in the Crimean War. Promoted Rear-Admiral in November 1860 he retired as a Vice-Admiral on 3 April 1866, and was promoted full Admiral on 20 October of the same year.

Admiral Massie married his first cousin Charlotte Townshend in 1844, and had three children. He died in 1989 at the age of 96, keeping all his faculties to the end, and was buried at Coddington. His children were:

i. Edward Richard 1845-1935
ii. Richard Crosbie 1847-1870
iii. Maud Cleopatra 1849-1928.

Richard (ii) joined the Royal Navy, and died of yellow fever in the Fiji Islands in March 1870 aged 22. Maudie, whose second name came form her father's ship, married Colonel Peter (Pello) Wessenberg, and is dealt with in more detail below.

Edward (i), born 21 September 1845 and privately educated, was commissioned into the 78th Highlanders, and then the Ross-shire Buffs and later the 2nd Seaforth Highlanders. While the regiment was stationed in Gibraltar and he was not yet 21 he married on 28 July 1866 Olga Maria, Baroness von Wessenberg-Ampringen, grand-daughter of the former Austrian ambassador the to the Court of St James. She has a son Peter (Pello) at the time, aged about six, and said she was a widow. Recent research however shows her to have been the mistress of the French Prime Minister Monsieur Verbier, and she must have been something of an adventuress. Soon after the marriage the Regiment was ordered to India, and as she refused to go there Edward sent in his papers. One can imagine that a young officer marrying like that would not have been allowed to remain in the regiment anyway. They then lived in the South of France, mostly at Pau, and had three children:

1. Roger Henry 1869-1927
2. Edward Philip 1870-1871
3. John Hamon 1872-1914.

On 12 July 1878 Olga was killed in a train crash near Rennes, and the two surviving sons were sent to live with their father's sister Maudie in Chester. Pello, now 19, went to live in Austria where he was in the army at one time and is reputed to have been tutor to the Hapsburg family; he was a talented artist and writer. He married and had a son and a daughter, Helen.

Presumably Maud knew him as a boy and kept in touch with him, because when his wife died in 1914 she didn't wait more than a few months before going to Austria and marrying him. She was then a spinster of 65 and Pello was 55. This was just before the outbreak of the war, but they came to England to live in Maud's house in Chester, and Pello's daughter Helen came too. After the war started, Pello was not interned, but he had to report regularly to the police as an alien. After some months they were all sent back to Austria, where Pello became a Colonel and fought against the Allies. Maud had a very hard life and nearly starved, losing several stones in weight. After the war they returned to England in the early twenties and settled at Hythe in Kent. Maud seemed surprised that Pelllo was not welcomed there more warmly.

Maud died in 1928, and Pello went back to live in Austria. His son had been killed in the war, as also had Helen's husband, leaving her with two sons who still keep up with the Massie family, and their children visit the Massies in England.

It was a curious relationship for Edward when his step-son became he brother-in-law, and for his son Roger when his half-brother became his uncle.

The Children of Edward Massie's First Marriage

John Hamon Massie (3), born 10 June 1872 and educated at Stubbington and RMA Woolwich, was commissioned into the Royal Artillery and served in the Chitral Relief expedition in 1895 (medal and two clasps) and in the Boer War (Queen’s medal with four clasps, mention in despatches, King's medal with two clasps, DSO). He married on 3 September 1908 Maria Margaret Berger, daughter of Major-General RA Berger, and was killed on active service as a Major on 13 November 1914, dying without issue.

Roger Henry (1), born 2 July 1869 and educated at Stubbington and RMA Woolwich, was commissioned into the Royal Artillery and served in the Sudan in 1896, on the North-West Frontier 1897-98, in the Boer War 1899-1902, and in France and Belgium during the first world war. He was Brigadier-General Heavy Artillery Canadian Corps BEF 1917-18, CRA Portsmouth 1919-20, and Commander Royal Garrison Artillery, Western Command, at Chester 1920-22, CBE and CMG. He married Cecil Hall, daughter of Maurice James Hall of Middleberg, South Africa, on 10 July 1902, who died on 20 March 1951. Roger died on 23 February 1927, leaving three children:

i. Thomas Antony 1906-
ii. Anne Clementina 1911-79
iii. Joan Dorothea 1916-

Joan (iii) married Hugh Lefeaux who died without issue in 1973. Antony, head of the Massie family, educated Wellington and RMC Sandhurst, was commissioned into the Gurkha Rifles. He was in Waziristan in 1936, and in the second world war, after a period as GSO II, he commanded 1/8 Gurkhas in Burma and Java. He retired in 1948, an honorary Colonel 9th Gurkhas. He married on 25 May 1940 Adele Lorne Campbell Edlmann, daughter of Major Ernest Elliot Edlmann, DSO, RA, and had four children:

1. Roger Hugh, born 13 March 1941, married Claire Griffiths in 1968. They live in France and have adopted two French boys.
2. Tom Falcon, born 18 April 1948, married Elena Varsasky in 1978 and has a daughter Veronica.
3. Margaret Freya, born 19 October 1950, married Akhrum in 1971 and has three daughters.
4. Rosamund Kate, born 1957, married David Cocks and has a daughter Florence.

Anne Clementina (Clemency) (ii) born 24 March 1911, married George Nangle in January 1939. An active guider and keen gardener, she died on 9 May 1979 leaving two children:

1. Anne married John Collier RN retd, and has three children: Edward (born 1969), Emma (born 1973) and William (born 1977).
2. Juliet married John Hughes and also has three children: Thomas (born 1974), Alice (born 1977) and Michael (born 1980).

Edward Massie remained a widower for twenty-six years after the death of his first wife Olga. On 9 August 1904 he married Margaret Maxwell-Lyte, daughter of Sir Henry Maxwell-Lyte, Deputy Keeper of the Rolls, by his wife Frances Somerville, daughter of James Curtis Somerville of Dinder House, Wells. They met in the following way.

The Maxwell-Lytes followed the custom of the times in trying to arrange "good" marriages for their daughters. This resulted in young men without a large fortune being told to keep clear, and I well remember my father telling me that at the time of his youth in Cheshire young men of good family but poor means were referred to as detrimentals.

When Margaret was thirty, her parents, in order to get her away from an admirer, sent her off to South Africa to stay with a brother on his fruit farm. Edward was on the same ship, going out to stay with his son Roger, who as we have seen married a South-African after the Boer War. It was a very stormy voyage, and the chaperone took to her bunk and remained there. Edward and Margaret were both excellent sailors, and enjoyed each other's company so much that by the time they reached Cape Town they announced their engagement. Margaret's parents were furious and sent a cable saying "Return at once by separate ships". This they did and run into another kind of storm. Edward was 59, three years older than his prospective father-in-law and they thought he would die soon and leave all his money to the two surviving sons of his first marriage, and that their daughter would be left a penniless widow. In fact they had nearly thirty years of happy married life.

The wedding, on 9 August 1904, was not in the family's local church as it had "happy memories". The bride's parents wore mourning, and the mother was observed to tear the service sheet into small pieces and grind them into the floor under her heel.

There were two children of the second marriage:

1. Barabara born 29 April 1906
2. Margery born 11 July 1907.

Margaret’s parents refused to have anything to do with the couple until after Margery's birth. Edward then wrote again to his in-laws saying that they now had a golden-haired baby and hoped so much that they would come and see both grand-children. They came, and were good friends from then on. Margery likes to think she came into the world as a little peace-maker.

The Children of Edward Massie's Second Marriage

Barbara (1) married on 27 November 1932 Dudley Frederick Oliphant Dangar of Frensham. They subsequently moved to Childe Okeford, Dorset and thence to Gurrow Point, at Dittisham in Devon, and it was at Dittisham that I first met them and found out so much about the Massie family. Barbara has been a very successful restorer of old houses, and now lives in one of her conversions, the Old Rectory at Cornworthy. She is also a talented artist, whose work has been exhibited, and a very competent dingy sailor and ex-commodore of the Dittisham Sailing Club. Her husband Freddy is a well-known mountaineer and a former editor of the Alpine Journal. I used to enjoy translating articles for him from Italian mountaineers. Barbara has two children:

i. Rosemary Margaret born 29 June 1934
ii. Richard Henry Frederick born 29 September 1935.

Rosemary (i) married on 7 May 1958 Captain Anthony Gordon Mansell Shewen, The Queen's Bays, and has three children:

1. Christopher, born 1959, married on 14 November 1981 Roberta Virginia Clare Sorby
2. Celia born 1963
3. Laura born 1967.

Richard (ii) educated Sherborne and RMA Sandhurst, served in the 16/5 Queen's Royal Lancers, and since his retirement has been breeding horses in Yorkshire and acting as handicapper to the Jockey Club. He is also MFH of the local hunt. He married on 8 October 1958 Jennifer Mary Seed, daughter of Major Humphrey Allison Seed of Melbourne Hall, Yorkshire, and has two children:

1. Adrian William Richard, born 4 July 1962, educated at Stowe.
2. Nicholas Humphrey, born 29 January 1966, educated Stowe.
Barabara has two children

Margery (2), the second child of Edward's second marriage, married on 25 November 1933 John Charles Hugh Price, Lieutenant RN, who was killed in a flying accident in South Africa in 1938 and buried at sea. He left a son David Hugh Massie, born 22 February 1936. David followed his father into the Royal Navy, and was lost at sea while on loan service with the Royal Australian Navy, serving in HMS Voyager, in 1964. Tragically, father and son both lost their life at the age of 27. David married in 1957 Inger Andersen of Aarhus, Denmark, and left four children:

1. Caroline born 1958
2. Sally born 1959
3. Janet born 1962
4. Ian born 1964.

After David's death Inger returned to Denmark, where her son Ian is in the Danish Army. She is now married to a Dane and has two children by her second marriage. Margery visits her grand-children in Denmark every year. A painter and sculptor, she has had her work exhibited. She is also a member of an archaeological society which dates, records and draws old houses, and she takes an active part in local affairs, having been a school governor for over forty years. My mother, the first time she met her, exclaimed "Why, you are Hester", referring to my Aunt Hester, her second cousin, who had the same golden hair and features.

Robert George Massie and his Descendants

Robert, Richard Massie's 19th child, emigrated to Australia and married Annette Browne, daughter of Thomas Browne of Hartlands, Australia, who under the pen name of Ralph Bolderwood wrote the adventure story "Robbery under arms". There were seven children:

i. Hugh Hamon 1855-1936
ii. Hester Lee 1856-1956
iii. Mabel Lee 1860-1931
iv. Godfrey Egerton 1863-1903
v. Richard de Winton 1866-1903
vi. Lucy Annette 1869-
vii Robert Lee 1872-1956.

Hester (ii) died unmarried a few weeks before reaching her century. Mabel (iii) married Henry Eccles of Folkstone, Godfrey (iv) married Eliza Hewitt and died without issue in Johannesburg. Richard (v) and Robert (vii) died unmarried. Lucy (vi) married Major William G Phillimore RA and had a daughter Lucy who married late in life.

Hugh Hamon (i), from whom all the Australian branch descends, married Tryphena Agnes Gibbs, daughter of Sir Thomas Allwright Gibbs of Syndey, and had three children:

1. Hugh Hamon Ingoldsby
2. Robert John Allwright
3. Tryphena Annette.

Hugh (1) married Mary Read Richie, daughter of HLStG Richie of Bega, New South Wales, in 1919 and had a son:

i. Hugh Hamon Massie, born 1929, FRCS, an eye surgeon, married Pamela Jane Tucker in London in 1956, and died in 1966 at the tragically young age of 37, leaving two sons:

1. Hugh Hamon Robert 1965-
2. Richard John Hamon 1966-

John (2) married Phyllis Holthon and had three children:

i. John Holthon Hamon 1920-43 killed in action at Weewak.
ii. Diana 1922-76, twice married, died without issue.
iii. Annette, born 1925, living in France, unmarried.

After Phyllis's death John married secondly Betty Squire who died childless in 1977.

Tryphena (Nina) (3) married Leslie Dunlop (died 1963) and has three children, Roger, Nora and Annette, all married with children. Roger Dunlop is a leading doctor in Sydney.

Frances Maria Blomfield (née Massie) and her Descendants

Frances Maria, third child of Richard and Hester, married in 1827 the Revd George Becher Blomfield, (1801-1855), Canon of Chester and Rector of Stevenage, the ninth and youngest child of Charles Blomfield, schoolmaster, of St Albans, by his wife Hester Pawsey. One of his brothers was Bishop of London and father of the architect Sir Arthur Blomfield. Frances died in 1837, and George Blomfield subsequently married Mary Anson, daughter of the Dean of Chester, in 1847. She died childless in 1852, and he married thirdly Elizabeth Fielden of Mollington Hall, dsp. Frances had seven children:

i. Charles George 1828-1856
ii. Cornelia Frances 1829-1919
iii. George James 1831-1890
iv. Rose Sidney 1832-1887
v. William Henry 1833-1838
vi. Richard Massie 1835-1921
vii.Frances Harriet 1836-1874.

Charles (i), educated Rugby and Exeter College Oxford, served in the 21st Madras Regiment and was Commandant, Madras Police. He died unmarried at Cannanore, South India. William Henry (v) died aged five. George (iii), born 1831 and educated at Charterhouse and Christ's College, Cambridge, was Rector of Norton-sub-Hamden in Somerset. He married in 1856 Georgina Isabella Himber, and died in 1890 having had five children:

1. Constance Geraldine 1857-
2. Rupert George Himber 1858-
3. Frank 1850-52
4. Louis Henry 1861-1915
5. George Adolphus 1897-

Rupert (2), Commander RN, married in 1891 Alice Holmes Edelston Prowse, daughter of Judge Prowse CMG, QC, of Newfoundland, who died in 1931 leaving two children, Alice Marjorie born 1892 and Irene May Himber born 1894.

Louis (4) educated Christ's College Cambridge, succeeded his father as Rector of Norton-sub-Hamden. Later he emigrated to the USA where he married in 1893 Frances Marion Hornibrook, who died in 1932 leaving a daughter:

(i) Isabel Frances Marion, who married J Graham and had a son George James Graham, who married Mary Anne Helen in 1939. Isabel married secondly C Harding.

George (5) emigrated to Seattle and married in 1897 Isabel Horniman, who died a year later after giving birth to a daughter Millie Irene who only lived for a year.

Francis Harriet (vii), the youngest of the seven children of George and Frances Blomfield, born in 1836, married the Revd RM Freeman (died 1892) and had four children:

1. Robert Massie, born 1866, married KA Curtis
2. Rose Alice 1867-1909, married EM Polehampton
3. Charles Blomfield, born 1868, married MN Ruxton
4. Violet Sidney, born 1872.

Rear Admiral Sir Richard Massie Blomfield and his Family

Massie (v), born 1835, joined the Royal Navy in 1848 and served for sixty years until his retirement in 1908. He served throughout the Crimean War as Midshipman, Mate and Lieutenant in HMS Agamemnon and HMS Royal Albert, flagships of Sir Edmund Lyons, and gained the Crimean and Turkish medals with Sebastopol and Azov clasps. Emily Royds in a letter to Tom's wife writes:

"I suppose you will see by the papers that war has been declared. The Russians have been going on fast with their preparations while we have been awaiting their answer. They have already crossed the Danube in two places. The report is spread that they have some infernal machine in each vessel which causes certain destruction to an opponent and if such be the case our splendid Fleet in the Baltic will indeed suffer. There is fearful loss of life to look forward to. James Campbell has just gone there in the James Wall, a screw ship, 91 guns. One of the Blomfields is there too. We know several officers in the East, and Cornelia's youngest brother, Massie Blomfield, is there too."

At the same time, Emily's mother Mary writes: "The first embarkation of our troops to defend Turkey has created great interest. I fear we are to have a bloody war; it is said a large Russian steamer has sailed for Australia, to capture the vessels bringing Gold dust."

Promoted Captain on 2 September 1872, Massie was on board HMS Invincible at the bombardment of Alexandria, and retired from the active list in 1878. He spent the next thirty years in Egypt, being closely attached with Lord Cromer, and nearly the whole of his service in Egypt coincided with the Cromer Administration.

One of the most outstanding monuments to his work was the harbour at Alexandria. When he went there in 1878 the harbour was virtually non-existent, but under his supervision as Comptroller of the Port the wok of construction grew, until the harbour became one of the most important in the Mediterranean.

Massie was promoted Rear-Admiral on the retired list on 1 January 1899, and made a KCMG in 1904. He held several important posts in Egypt, and Retired as Director-General of Ports and Lighthouses in the Egyptian Government's service in 1908, when the Khedive conferred on him the first class order of the Medjidie. He was a man of many parts, and in addition to his official duties he found time to devote to his love for botany and archaeology.

Massie married in 1877 Rosamund Selina Graves, 1849-1927, daughter of the Bishop of Limerick and aunt of the author Robert Graves. Her sister Ida, who married Admiral Poore, mentions the wedding in her autobiography, An Admiral's Wife in the Making which his grandson Stewart Blomfield kindly lent to me:

"The next marriage in the family was that of my sister Rosy, and was able to be one of the bridesmaids. Her husband, Massie Blomfield, who had just left the Navy as a Captain, was a nephew of Bishop Blomfield of London and as my sister Helen had married a son of the then bishop of Sodor and Man, our episcopal connections were on the increase. Rosy's wedding was an interesting event. My new Brother-in-law's sea-blue eyes and engaging manners instantly endeared him to me, and his qualities on better acquaintance proved fully proportionate to his charms."

Massie died in June 1921 at his home in 32 Elm Park Gardens, London SW, having suffered from heart disease for some time; the heat wave then in force probably hastened his end. There were two children of the marriage:

i. Charles George Massie 1879-1915
ii. Hugh Massie 1881-

Charles (i), educated Charterhouse and Sandhurst, Major Royal Warwickshire Regiment, served the Boer War and was killed in action at Ypres, having married in 1907 Hirell Clarence by whom he had two children. Lade Poore refers to him in her book:

"Rosy's elder boy came close after Molly in age, and of all the grandchildren's treasured sayings Charlie's were the funniest. He would fix his large hazel eyes on whatever interested him, and when his wonder insisted upon expression out would come a question. An elderly lady, a widow, whose health compelled her to go about in a Bath chair, was one day the object of little Charlie's observation. The border of her heavy crape veil concealed her mouth, and presently Charlie enquired "Haven't you got any mouth?" She reassured him, and then "Haven't you got any legs?" followed.

In 1882, when he was three, Charlie arrived from Egypt with his mother to spend the hot weather in England. My father, who was in London, went to inspect his little grandson in the lodgings where they were staying, and Charlie was duly brought down by his nurse and popped inside the door of the back drawing room, his mother and grandfather being in the front room. Unobserved, he took the episcopal hat from the chair where my father had placed it and hung it on his small head. Then, grasping the episcopal umbrella, he stumped into the room beyond and, peeping under the broad hat brim, piped out to the unknown guest: "And who are you, you funny old monkey?" My sister's filial respect was outraged, her pride in her son discounted, but the situation was far too absurd to be taken seriously. Charlie had been called a funny little monkey so often by his nurse that he certainly thought the words expressive of affection and possibly admiration.

Not many months later, when I made the voyage to Egypt with my sister and her two little boys, Charlie proved himself the best sailor among the passengers, and after his nurse (between paroxysms) and succeeded in washing and dressing him he would prance about in the highest spirits, monarch of the saloon out of which the first-class sleeping cabins opened. Among the passengers there chanced to be a little girl whom, before the billows of the Bay laid us low, my sister has marked out as an unsuitable playmate for the less critical Charlie, and now that she and her parents as well as all Charlie's guardians were precluded by seasickness from any interference with his concerns, his independence asserted itself. Up and down the saloon he marched, chanting over and over again, loud and clear, these unpardonable words: "Emily Barton, Emily Barton, my mother says you are a horrid little girl and I'm not to play with you, but I WILL." And we were all incapable of silencing him! Happily there were no reprisals, for we were one and all so thankful to reach Gibraltar that peace and goodwill reigned in every heart.

Charlie was nearly three when the massacre of Alexandria took place in June 1882. His father was Comptroller of the Port and lived close to the Arsenal gates in a big square house overlooking the harbour. On Sunday afternoon, June 11th, Charlie and his baby brother had gone with their nurse for a drive in the victoria to the Khedivial Gardens on the bank of the Mahoudieh Canal and were returning to tea, all unconscious of the carnage going on in the streets of Alexandria, when they caught sight of some unfortunate Europeans being hunted by a pack of bloodthirsty Arabists. The nurse, a sensible Englishwoman, kept her head and ordered the Arab coachman to drive to the British Consulate for protection, but they passed on their way through such scenes of horror and brutality as could never be forgotten. The Consulate gates were opened to receive them and they were safe. Between the harbour and the Consulate lay a network of Arab streets as well as the whole length of the Place Mehmet Ali, and it was in these streets that the worst of the massacres took place. Lord Charles Beresford had been lunching with the Blomfields at Port House, but was obliged to return on board HMS Condor when it was known that trouble had broken out. My brother-in law determined to de what in him lay to discover the fate of his children and their nurse, put on the tarboosh and stambouli which as a servant of the Khedive he was entitled to wear, and started off on foot. Through the tortuous streets of the Arab quarter he made his way unmolested, although his fair skin and blue eyes proclaimed his nationality, but when he reached an important zaptieh (police station) half way to the Place Mehmet Ali an Arab came out and implored him to enter. Some of the zaptiehs, it was found later, had become slaughterhouses for Europeans who had thought to find in them protection and shelter, but the motive of the man who stopped my brother-in-law was pacific and merciful. An Englishmen lay dying within, stabbed by some savage follower of Arabi Pasha, and holding Captain Blomfield's hand he presently breathed his last. This was an engineer officer from one of our ships. Released by the death of this innocent victim of an ambitious rebel, Massie Blomfield pursued his way, but it was long before he reached the Consulate and several hours before he was able to return to Port House with his children. What my sister suffered during the awful hours which elapsed between the moment when she knew her children in deadly peril and that which restored them and her husband to her in safety, very few people are in a position to know.

In little Charlie's mind the horror lingered, although he was only heard once to speak of it. Six months later he was with us listening to the band of the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry at Mustafa Barracks, Ramleh, when a ragged Arab crept up and stood close behind us. Charlie turned to him with closed fists and blazing eyes. "Go away, wicked bad Arab that kills English peoples" he shouted. "Imshi, imshi" and the man slunk away among the stones and scrub without a word."

There is a further reference in 1899:

"Then war was declared in South Africa. A couple of cruisers were sent through the Canal to the Cape, and many of the Regulars in the garrison were replaced by militia from home. For this service my young nephew was selected because he was a good horseman, and I missed his cheerful greeting across the narrow street we both inhabited in Floriana where his regiment was quartered and the gay sound of his violin which he would sometimes play at his open window for my entertainment."

Lady Poore also writes in a footnote:

"Destined for the Navy but to his bitter disappointment precluded from entering the Senior Service by temporary eye trouble, Charles Massie Blomfield obtained a commission in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was a major at the time of his death near Ypres on June 9th 1915. He was a very loveable character. Modest, generous and unself-seeking to a fault, he was sometimes misunderstood, sometimes under-valued, until a flash of something like genius, a witty comment or fantastic smile, would make his hearers start and rub their eyes, and his little book The Young Officer's Guide to Knowledge, by "The Senior Major" published some eighteen months before his death, was a revelation even to those who knew him best. It was nothing less than brilliant, and placed him at once in the front rank of skit writers. Many an exiled soldier in the tropics, many a wearied fighter in the trenches, has laughed over its quaint and apposite absurdities."

He had two children:

1. Charles Clarence Massie 1908-1909
2. Richard Beverly Massie, born 1913.

Richard (2) educated Bryanstone and Queen's College Oxford, a journalist, served in the King's Artists Rifles and the Dorset Regiment in the 1939-45 war as a Captain. He married in 1946 Jeannette van Blydenstein and has one son:

i. Michael Charles, born 1947.

Hugh Massie Blomfield, the Admiral's second son, born in 1881, educated Cheltenham, Rugby and Oriel College Oxford, worked in the Ministry of Agriculture, Egyptian Civil Service, and served in the Civil Service Rifles and 5th Buffs 1912-20 as a Captain. HM Trade Commissioner for Jamaica 1930-35, he then taught at the Government European School in Nairobi. He married first Alice Geddes, and had two children:

1. Rosemary Alice Massie 1909-1981
2. Stewart, born 1910.

Rosemary (1) lived at Axbridge where she had a host of friends whose life she enriched with her musical talents. Stewart (2) worked in Kenya and served in Palestine in World War II. Later he worked in Bristol and retired to Minehead. He married Rosemary Fussell, and had two children:

i. Rachel Evelyn Massie married Colin Pearce
ii. Richard Edwin Philip Massie married Lesley Dawn Eleanor Evans.

Hugh married secondly in 1919 and had a daughter Frances, and thirdly in 1931 Barbara Jean Poplar by whom he had three more children:

1. Olga 1932-
2. Charles Hugo 1935-
3. Richard Anthony Massie 1937-

Anthony (3), who owns his own school in Nairobi, married in 1963 and had three daughters by his first wife, from whom he was divorced. He married secondly on 30 September 1972 Lianne Purves and has three children:

i. Adrian James born 4 November 1976
ii. Elizabeth born 4 August 1979
iii. Talia Philippa born 15 June 1981.

Cornelia Frances Royds and her Descendants

Cornelia, second child of Frances Marie Blomfield, was born on 6 July 1829 and married on 13 January 1852 the Revd Frances Coulman Royds. Their descendants are dealt with in the Royds section of this site.

This brings us to the end of the account of Richard and Hester Massie and their descendants. There are gaps, and some families are treated more fully than others, but this obviously depends on the information I have been given, It is interesting to note the very large number of progeny of Frances and Maria, and in particular of her daughter Cornelia and Frank Royds. My cousin Giles Brocklebank use to say that the Roydses bred like rabbits, but perhaps it is also relevant that most of the daughters married into well-to-do families who could afford to have plenty of children.

Last Update: 15 January 2000
Web Author: Nigel Watts
Copyright ©1999 Kenrick Armitstead & Nigel Watts - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED