MOLYNS, Michael (d.1615), of Mackney and Clapcot, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1558-1603, ed. P.W. Hasler, 1981
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

3rd s. of William Molyns of Sandall or Sandhills, Hants, and Mackney by his 3rd w. Ann, da. of Sir Alexander Culpepper of Bedgebury, Kent; half-bro. of Robert. educ. I. Temple 1561. m. (1) by 1574, Frances, da. of Sir Anthony Huddleston of Millom, Cumb., 1s. 1da.; ?(2) aft. 1588, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Edward Gilbert, alderman of London, wid. of Thomas Colby I of Sherfield-upon-London, Hants, ?s.p. Kntd. ?1592.1

Offices Held

J.p.q. Oxon. from c.1573, Berks. from c.1575, Hants c.1592; commr. musters Oxon. 1580, Berks. 1586; sheriff, Oxon. 1575-6, Berks. 1583-4; collector of loan, Oxon 1590.2


As the youngest son of a man of small fortune, Molyns’s rise to the position of a leading official in Oxfordshire and Berkshire must be attributed to his finding the right patrons, holding the right opinions (while his elder brothers were probably hampered by recusancy), and to his marriage to Frances Huddleston, whose mother came from one of the leading families in that county, the Barantynes of Little Haseley. His first estates were probably the manors in Oxfordshire which he held from Sir Henry Norris I, later 1st Lord Norris of Rycote and joint lord lieutenant of both Oxfordshire and Berkshire. In 1576 he bought from (Sir) Thomas Bromley, the solicitor-general, the manor of Clapcot, Berkshire, neighbour to the family estate at Mackney, of which he was probably already in possession. Much of his property in both counties lay within the honour of Wallingford and, combined with Norris’s patronage, obtained his return for the borough. In 1589 his daughter may already have been married to Michael Stampe, presumably one of the family of his fellow-burgess, Thomas Stampe.3

In later years Molyns’s ambition met some disappointments, in which he looked for help to the highest places. In June 1592 he sent Burghley the draft of a speech, which, as justice ‘in sundry counties’, he proposed to deliver at sessions of the peace: the speech praised the ‘singular virtues’ of the Queen’s minister, who apparently replied favourably, suggesting emendations. Four months later Molyns wrote again with a sad tale: he had been summoned to be knighted by the Queen, but the event ‘was (at the very instant) crossed by the envious and malicious device of his enemies’, and he was ‘rejected as a man unworthy and of no desert’. Asking Burghley for redress, he once more called attention to his ‘public speeches’, in which he had always been wont to extol her Majesty. He seems to have obtained his knighthood soon afterwards, but he had to go to Ireland for it, if he was the Michael Molyns knighted about 1592 by the lord deputy.4

Molyns was probably married twice. If so, with his second wife he acquired a step-daughter, Dorothy, who soon became the second wife of the rich Sir Francis Willoughby of Wollaton, Nottinghamshire. Willoughby died in 1596, leaving his wife pregnant and Molyns in charge of his estates. The husband of a daughter of Sir Francis by his first marriage told Burghley that Molyns was conspiring to pass off a countrywoman’s son as the posthumous child, and thus as Sir Francis’s heir. It was at length admitted that the child was a daughter, but there was still strong competition for the wardship, at first given to Sir Robert Cecil, in which Molyns acted for his stepdaughter’s new husband Philip, 3rd Baron Wharton. He was further accused of procuring an absolute conveyance of all Willoughby’s estates.5

Molyns died 14 May 1615, seised only of his Oxfordshire and Berkshire manors and some lands in Hampshire. Francis Englefield, head of the great Berkshire family, was one of his executors, and the heir was his son, Sir Barantyne Molyns, who was almost blind from injuries received in the Queen’s service.6

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: Alan Harding


  • 1. PCC 19 Tashe, 9 Leicester; Vis. Berks. (Harl. Soc. lvi), 112; Vis. Hants (Harl. Soc. lxiv), 122; Vis. Notts. (Harl. Soc. iv), 149; Bristol and Glos. Arch. Soc. Trans. xxviii. 52; Foster, Al. Ox. early ser. 1018.
  • 2. APC, xii. 17; xiv. 56; xx. 187.
  • 3. HMC Hatfield, iii. 106-7; VCH Berks. iii. 468, 509-10, 531, 536, 539, 548; C142/378/130.
  • 4. Lansd. 72, ff. 199-201; Shaw, Knights, ii. 89.
  • 5. HMC Middleton, 573, 580, 583, 618, 620; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 557; HMC Hatfield, vii. 146, 233; viii. 179; APC, xxvi. 524.
  • 6. C142/378/130; CSP Dom. 1611-18, p. 401.