MOLYNEUX, Sir Richard II (1594-1636), of Sefton and Croxteth, Lancs. and Lancing, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press




Family and Education

bap. 21 Feb. 1594,1 2nd but 1st. surv. s. of Sir Richard Molyneux I*, 1st bt., of Sefton, and Frances, da. of Sir Gilbert Gerard† of Ince, Lancs.2 educ. Brasenose, Oxf. 1609, G. Inn 1613;3 travelled abroad 1610-c.1613.4 m. settlement 7 Dec. 1614, (with £4,000),5 Mary (d. June 1639), da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Caryll of Bentons, Shipley, Suss., 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. (1 d.v.p.).6 suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 24 Feb. 1623.7 kntd. 27 Mar. 1613;8 cr. Visct. Maryborough [I] 22 Dec. 1628.9 d. 8 May 1636.10 sig. Richarde Molyneux[e].

Offices Held

Freeman, Preston, Lancs. by 1602,11 Liverpool, Lancs. by 1617; j.p. Lancs. 1618-30, custos rot. by 1627-30;12 constable, Liverpool Castle, Lancs. 1623-d.;13 steward of Blackburn Hundred, Lancs. 1623-d.;14 butler in Lancs., 1623-d.;15 dep. lt., Lancs. 1624-d.,16 commr. subsidy, Lancs. 1624,17 Forced Loan 1627,18 knighthood fines 1630-2;19 dep. v. adm. Lancs. by 1632;20 commr. sewers, Lancs. 1633.21

Recvr. gen., duchy of Lancaster 1623-d.22


Molyneux inherited not only his father’s vast landed estates but also many of his numerous local offices. Although contracted at an early age to marry his father’s ward, Fleetwood Barton, he refused to honour the arrangement, which was broken off in 1608.23 Between attending university and admittance to Gray’s Inn, Molyneux travelled abroad, and upon reaching his majority he married Mary, daughter and co-heir of Sir Thomas Caryll, thereby acquiring an estate in Sussex. The Carylls were a notoriously Catholic family, and while Molyneux’s father had always publicly conformed, his mother was a Catholic and the household at Sefton was widely known to entertain priests. In adulthood Molyneux himself probably practised the Catholic religion, feeling less compulsion to temporize than his father had done. Both he and his wife were fined for refusing to attend church while at Lancing, Sussex, in 1624-5.24

Though aged barely 20, Molyneux was returned for Wigan in 1614, presumably through his father’s local influence and longstanding connections with the Gerards of Ince. He made no recorded impact on the brief Addled Parliament. Back in Lancashire, he gradually began to assume some of his father’s duties, for example swearing in Edward Moore* as sheriff at Liverpool in 1620, and in 1623 he succeeded to his family’s estates.25 In 1625 he was again returned to the Commons, this time for Lancashire. Named to a single committee, for the Macclesfield tenants’ bill (23 June), he attended only the first of its two meetings.26 He sat again in 1628-9, when he received no appointments, though as a knight for Lancashire he may have attended the committee for Dutton, Lord Gerrard’s bill, which was appointed on 7 May.27 During the interval between the 1628 and 1629 sessions, Molyneux acquired an Irish peerage.

Unlike his father, who had been a diligent magistrate, Molyneux took little interest in county affairs, the only exception being his enthusiasm for military pursuits.28 Irish peers were in any case excluded from the bench after 1630, forcing Molyneux to surrender the post of custos rotulorum.29 He also became more outwardly Catholic, maintaining close connections with two Catholic gentry families of Lancashire, Norris of Speke, and Gerrard of Bryn.30 Molyneux almost certainly exerted his influence at Liverpool to secure the election for the borough of his debt-ridden brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Gerrard, 2nd bt, in 1624. Gerrard subsequently refused to swear the Oath of Supremacy and was never admitted to the Commons. Despite this embarrassing affair, Molyneux came to Gerrard’s aid a year later when he tried to free Gerrard, then under arrest for treason, from the sheriff’s custody, for which he was later reprimanded by the Privy Council.31

Notwithstanding the great wealth that he had inherited, Molyneux amassed extravagant debts; he presumably paid at least a few thousand pounds for his peerage, and by the late 1620s was borrowing heavily.32 Despite his difficulties, in 1635 he purchased the manor of Liverpool, which had been included in the Ditchfield grant of 1628, from the corporation of London.33 His creditors included his wife’s family, the Carylls of Sussex, although relations with his in-laws were soured by a long-running dispute over the execution of Sir Thomas Caryll’s will, which was not finally resolved until after Molyneux’s death in 1636.34 As receiver general Molyneux managed the duchy’s finances almost as poorly as he did his own, building up arrears exceeding £13,000 by 1635.35 At his death it was estimated that he owed around £20,000, both personally and on behalf of the duchy; a schedule attached to his will, dated 1 Apr. 1636, itemized those most urgently to be repaid, amounting to £1,900.36 By 1639, having sold off her Sussex estates and various lands including Tarbuck manor and other outlying property, Molyneux’s widow still owed around £7,000 to the Crown in duchy arrears and £9,000 to other creditors.37

Molyneux died on 8 May 1636 and was buried the next day in the family vault at Sefton, having made last minute provisions for the special livery of his sons, the eldest of whom, Richard, was aged seventeen.38 Richard’s wardship was purchased by James Stanley*, Lord Strange, future 7th earl of Derby, though a marriage pre-contracted between Richard and Strange’s daughter Mary never took place.39 Molyneux’s widow re-married, taking as husband Raphael Tarterau, a servant in the queen’s household. Until her death in June 1639 she waged a bitter legal battle against Lord Strange over annuities left to herself and her sons under her husband’s will.40 Richard and Caryll Molyneux, successively the 2nd and 3rd viscounts, fought for the king alongside the 7th earl of Derby in the Civil War.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Rosemary Sgroi


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  • 3. Al Ox.; GI Admiss.
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  • 7. CB, i. 4.
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  • 30. CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 172.
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  • 33. Lancs. RO, DDM39/37-49, DDM52/37; CLRO, Rentals Box 1.14; Misc. Deeds 52.14; R. Muir and E.M. Platt, Hist. of Municipal Govt. in Liverpool, 94-6, 358-81.
  • 34. C2/Jas.I/M17/26, C2/Chas.I/M26/42; 2/Chas.I/M29/13; 2/Chas.I/M76/28; C78/416/9.
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  • 40. CSP Dom. 1637-8, pp. 183, 224, 389, 481.