The Honourable William Frederick Barton Massey-Mainwaring (28 May 1845 – 12 March 1907) was an Irish art collector and Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom.

The Hon. W. Massey-Mainwaring

Initially known as William Frederick Barton Massey, he was the fifth son of Eyre Massey, 3rd Baron Clarina (1798-1872) and his wife Susan Elizabeth Burton. In turn, grandson of Eyre Massey, 1st Baron Clarina (1719-1804), an Anglo-Irish British army officer of the 18th century, known primarily for his successful action at La Belle-Famille during the French and Indian War.

Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, William was called in 1868 to the Bar of the Inner Temple, London, and for a time practiced in the Courts of Justice.

On 3 October 1872 he married Isabella Anne Lee-Mainwaring Forbes (1843-1905), daughter of Charles Benjamin Lee-Mainwaring (1797-1874), granddaughter of John Lee Foster (1766), great-great-granddaughter of Ann Foster of Greenwich and sixth generation of Richard Foster of Ossett, a landowner and cloth manufacturer who at the beginning of the 18th century reserved his pressing shop to make way for the construction of the Congregational Church.

The Honourable William Frederick Barton assumed the surname Massey-Mainwaring upon marrying Isabella and was an art connoisseur and enthusiastic collector of curiosities who lent items from his collection to public galleries around the country. Porcelain and French furniture were his specialty.

In 1883 he published his book The Preservation of Fish Life in Rivers by the Exclusion of Town Sewage, a summary of the conference he gave on Monday, July 6 of that same year, where he spoke about the importance of freeing rivers and streams from pollution.

He was involved in Conservative politics, contesting for Norwich in 1880 unsuccessfully, and in 1892 put his name forward as a candidate for the Hackney Central constituency. In 1895 he was elected Member of Parliament for Finsbury Central, a position he held until 1906, eventually stepping aside in favor of Sir Andrew Scoble (1831-1916). It was its resolution in the UK House of Commons in 1896 that led to the opening of museums and galleries on Sundays.

He died unexpectedly of influenza and diabetes at his home in London on March 12, 1907, aged 61.

'The death occurred unexpectedly on Tuesday, 12th March, of the Hon. W. F. B. Massey-Mainwaring, formerly M.P, in his 62nd year. He bad been ailing for sometime.
A week or two ago Mr Massey-Mainwaring was the defendant in a remarkable will case, in which his stepson was the plaintiff. After two days' hearing a settlement was arrived iat. During the trial it was stated that Mr Massey-Mainwaring's art collection, which is valued at L300.000, was likely to be the subject of lengthy litigation.
Some of the treasures have already been sold at Christie's during the last few days. No less than L12.500 was realised for three pieces of jewellery, at the sale recently. The chief was an extremely beautiful emerald brilliant and pearl tiara, which excited great admiration. For one moment it seemed as if this gorgeous piece of Jewellery would be knocked down at L1000, but whilst the auctioneer's hammer was still poised in the air there came a welcome advance of L100, and Immediately a stiff fight was in progress. Among the contestants were Mr Lin, denbaum and Mr S. H. Haris, aind eventually the latter secured the treasure at the big price: of L5200. He afterwards paid L2700 for a becklaee of brilliants, and Mr Rosenau secured a five-row pearl ne.klacc for L4C00.
There was keen bidding for an old Irish potato ring, pierced and repousse, ivith fruit, flowers and birds, made by James Graham, Dublin, in 1769. As it weighed just over 12oz s, the purchaser, who gave L138 for it, paid at the extraordinary rate of 230s an ounce'.—

Lloyd's Weekly newspaper. May 10, 1907. Page 5.


  1.  Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "F"
  2. "Obituary". The Times. 13 March 1907. p. 12.
  3. Burke, Bernard (1884). The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and wales: comprising a registry of armorial bearings from the earliest to the present time. London: Harrison & Sons. p. 650.
  4. "The Massey-Mainwaring Collection at Bethnal Green". The Times. 2 July 1888. p. 10.
  5. "South Kensington And Bethnal Green". The Times. 14 January 1889. p. 4.
  6. "The People's Palace". The Times. 5 August 1889. p. 4.
  7. "The General Election". The Times. 24 June 1892. p. 7.

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