Massey, William (1691-1764?) (DNB00)

MASSEY, WILLIAM (1691–1764?), miscellaneous writer and translator, born in January 1691 of quaker parents, learnt Latin, Greek, and French at a private grammar school kept by William Thompson at Nottingham, and afterwards took lessons in Hebrew from one Knobs, clerk of the parish of St. Gregory, Norwich. In 1712 he became Latin usher in a boarding-school at Half-farthing-house, Wandsworth, Surrey, kept by Richard Scoryer, after whose death in 1714 he continued in the same employment for about a year under Scoryer's successor, Edward Powell, a noted writing-master and accountant. Subsequently he conducted a boarding-school of his own for many years at Wandsworth, and it was much patronised by the Society of Friends. Dr. Birch notes that on 24 March 1764 Massey was seized with the dead palsy on his right side, and under date 28 Aug. following he adds: 'I visited him at his house on Cambridge Heath, near Hackney, and found him very ill of the stone, added to the palsy.' Probably he died shortly afterwards.

He was the author of: 1. 'Musa Parænetica, or a Tractate of Christian Epistles, on sundry occasions, in verse,' London, 1717, 8vo; reprinted 1746. 2. 'Synopsis Sacerrima, or an Epitome of the Holy Scriptures, in English verse,' London, 1719, 8vo; reprinted 1801. 3. 'Pietas Promota, sive Collectio Novissima Verba Multorum illius Sectæ, quiapud Anglos vulgò Quakeri appellantur, exhibens. . . . Linguâ vernaculâ olim . . . conscripta . . . jam verò . . . latinè reddita,' London, 1737, 12mo. Translated from Tomkins's 'Piety Promoted.' 4. 'Adhortatio Pathetica . . . being a translation of Benjamin Holme's Serious Call into Latin,' London, 1747, 8vo. 5. 'Humanæ Vitæ Œconomia: sive Instituta ad formandos Hominum Mores. Primùm Anglicè à Roberto Dodsley conscripta. Nunc Latinè reddita,' London, 1752, 8vo. 6. 'Tully's Compendious Treatise of Old Age; intitled Cato Major . . . translated into English, with copious notes,' London, 1753, 8vo 7. 'Corruptæ Latinitatis Index, or a Collection of Barbarous Words and Phrases which are found in the works of the most celebrated Writers in Latin,' London, 1755, 8vo. 8. 'Ovid's Fasti . . . translated into English verse, with explanatory notes,' London, 1757, 8vo. 9. 'Remarks upon Milton's Paradise Lost, Historical, Geographical, Critical, and Explanatory,' London, 1761 , 12mo. 10. 'The Origin and Progress of Letters; an Essay,' 2 pts. London, 1763, 8vo. The second part of this curious book, treating of caligraphy, contains particulars not elsewhere recorded of the lives of celebrated English penmen, 'with the titles and characters of the books that they published both from the Rolling and Letter-Press.'

[Addit. MS. 6211, ff. 123, 127; Ayscough's Cat. of MSS. p. 749; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. (Bohn), p. 1509; Massey's Origin and Progress of Letters, pp. 115-18, and Dr. Birch's MS. notes; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ii. 310, 311; Smith's Cat. of Friends' Books, ii. 157; Watt's Bibl. Brit.]

T. C.