Thomas Ratsey Maskew was born at Keyhaven, Milford, Hampshire, England on September 7, 1818 the third of five sons to Thomas Maskew and Elizabeth Ratsey. Educated at Sherborne, Dorset, he was admitted to Trinity College, Cambridge on July 5, 1837 and transferred to Sidney College, Cambridge on May 11, 1840, where he graduated in 1842.
After spells as Curate of Brockhampton, Herefordshire, (1842-1843), and Curate of Sidlesham, Sussex, (1843-1844), he returned to Dorset in 1844 to take up the post of Curate of Swyre.
On July 30, 1844 at Piddlehinton, Dorset, Thomas married Emily Knight the daughter of John Baverstock Knight. It is worth noting at this point that Emily had a twin sister, Augusta Knight, who married Thomas’ brother, George Fairclough Maskew.
Thomas was appointed Headmaster of Dorchester Grammar School in 1846 and after settling in to his new post, he and Emily started a family. Alice Ensor Maskew (1848) and Edward Maskew (1850). Tradgically in 1851 the birth of their third child Emily Gertrude Maskew resulted in the death of both mother and child. Emily’s sister, Augusta, had died under similar circumstances the previous year, although the child survived.
At Netherbury, Dorset on March 3, 1853, Thomas was married to Catherine Ann Keddle. The couple were to have 4 children, Arthur Fairclough Maskew (1854), Thomas Anthony Browne Maskew (1855), Lillian Margaret Maskew (1857) and Catherine Ann Maskew (1859). Following her daughter birth Catherin died on April 26, 1859.
With six children it is no surprise that Thomas soon remarried. At St Pancras, London on June 1, 1860 he married Jane Stordy from Stanwell, Cumberland, with who he was to have two more children, Charles Henry Maskew (1861) and Francis Ernest Stordy Maskew (1865).
During his career as Headmaster of Dorchester Grammar School from 1846 to 1878 he also held the position of Rector of Swyre, Dorset from 1856 to 1861. One of his pupils was future author John Meade Falkner, and Thomas was to provide memorable names for a couple of ‘Moonfleet’ characters. It has also been reported that Thomas’ daughter Katie, was his first love and on whom the character Grace Maskew was probably based.
Following his retirement as headmaster, Thomas held the positions of Curate of Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire (1879-1881),Curate of Kinlet, Shropshire (1881-1885), and Curate of Thornbury, Herefordshire (1886-1891).
Thomas died on March 2, 1893 survived by his third wife, Jane, who died at Swanage, Dorset on August 5, 1917.