MASSINGER, Arthur (c.1547-1603), of Salisbury, Wilts. and St. Dunstan-in-the-West, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Family and Education

b. c.1547, s. of William Massinger of Gloucester by his w. Elizabeth; bro. of Richard. educ. St. Alban Hall, Oxf. 1571, fellow of Merton 1572, MA 1577, incorp. Camb. 1578. m. by 1582, Anne, da. of William Crompton of Stafford and London, sis. of Thomas Crompton I, 1s. 1da., three other ch.

Offices Held

Servant of the 2nd and 3rd Earls of Pembroke from c.1583; examiner, council in the marches of Wales 1598.


It has been assumed that Massinger was a native of Salisbury, where there was a family of that name, and where his son Philip, the dramatist, was born in 1583. Massinger himself was born in Gloucester, and his widow and daughter were buried in Gloucester cathedral. After sailing with Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1578, he entered the service of the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, probably settling in Salisbury at this point in his career. His master, who was president of the council in the marches, obtained for him in 1589 the reversion of the office of examiner against strong competition, and Massinger succeeded Thomas Sherer in that office in 1598. Because he was the Earl’s personal representative, and was present during the president’s absences, Massinger became a powerful figure in the marches and the object of attack from Pembroke’s enemies. Pembroke had Massinger returned for Weymouth to two Elizabethan Parliaments, where, judging from the known records of the House, he made no mark. Massinger recovered from ‘a burning fever’ in 1600, witnessed the 2nd Earl’s will and received an annuity of £20 on his death in 1601. The election for the 1601 Parliament took place nine months after Pembroke’s death and, as happened after the death of the 1st Earl, the servants took the opportunity to return themselves for his boroughs. Massinger came in for Shaftesbury again without making any known contribution to the business of the House, afterwards continuing in the service of the 3rd Earl. On one occasion in 1601, he was trying to moderate the wrath of the Queen at his master’s protracted absence from court. He died at his house in Shere Lane, London, in 1603 and was buried 4 June in the church of St. Dunstan-in-the-West. His nuncupative will, made in the presence of his brother Richard 2 June 1603 and proved 7 Jan. following, appointed his wife sole executrix and legatee. She is stated to have been a Catholic.

DNB (Massinger, Philip); Hoare, Wilts.Salisbury, 619-20; Glos. RO. D326; Rudder, Glos. 173, 174; Gilbert Voyages, ed. Quinn (Hak. Soc. ser. 2, lxxxiv), 212; P. H. Williams, Council in the Marches of Wales, 167, 294; Som. and Dorset N. and Q. viii. 20-1; Wilts. Arch. Mag. iv. 216; Lansd. 56, f. 98; 62, f. 80; 63, ff. 187, 193; 67, f. 17; 71, f. 197; Cal. Salusbury Corresp. 35, 85; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 200, 328, 479; HMC Hatfield, viii. 264, 439; xi. 361; Coll. Topog. iv. 123; PCC 5 Harte, 31 Tirwhite, 39 Woodhall; N. and Q. ccxiii. 256-8.

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Irene Cassidy