Prior to 1845, a Miss Sarah Williamson ran a small business at King Street, Derby supplying
local situations with the servants they required. In 1845, Sarah Massey, having been left
destitute with two children on the death of her husband, a solicitor, received a proposal from Miss Williamson that she should take over the King Street Registry as a gift and so
maintain herself and bring up her children. Thus Mrs Massey’s Agency was born. In 1875, the second Mrs Sarah Massey took over. She made a great success of it “so that
throughout the country Mrs Massey’s became a household word and she became an
authority on matters pertaining to Domestic Service”.
In 1890, Ernest Massey inherited the agency on the death of his mother. He was a
somewhat reluctant businessman; regarding himself as an artist by profession. Nevertheless, he had learnt a great deal about the agency resulting in the introduction of ‘Certificates of Character’ now known as ‘References’.
In 1920, the London branch of Massey’s Agency was opened at 100 Baker Street under the control of Mrs Ruth Massey. It traded from this address for over 60 years.
The 1920s and 1930s saw a gradual decline in the number of servants caused by social changes, the attraction of better paid work and the introduction of ‘labour saving’ devices. Another significant change in the late 1930s saw most domestic servants being employed on a daily basis; that is to say, they ceased to reside in their employers’ houses.
In 1968, Carol Ellis (the founder’s great, great grand-daughter) and her husband took over the running of the agency. They were ably supported by Mrs Bates, the doyen of domestic staff recruiters, who retired in 1986 after serving Massey’s Agency for over 50 years.
In 1986, the agency was sold to its present owners who remain committed to maintaining the excellent reputation built up by the Massey family over the previous 141 years.