MOLYNEUX, Samuel (1689-1728), of Dublin and St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
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Family and Education
b. 16 July 1689, o. surv. s. of William Molyneux of Dublin by Lucy, da. of Sir William Domvile, attorney-gen. [I]. educ. Trinity Coll. Dublin 1708. m. 5 Apr. 1717, Lady Elizabeth Capel, da. of Algernon, 2nd Earl of Essex, and coh. of her gt.-aunt Lady Dorothy Capel of Tewkesbury, s.p. suc. fa. 1698.
M.P. [I] 1727-d.
Sec. to the Prince of Wales 1715-27; P.C. [I] ?1715; ld. of Admiralty Ju1y 1727-d.
Molyneux was descended from Sir Thomas Molyneux, chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland under Queen Elizabeth. His father, a distinguished mathematician with substantial estates in Armagh, Kildare, and Roscommon, died when he was young, leaving him to the care of his uncle, Dr. Thomas Molyneux, a physician. While at Trinity College he began to devote himself to astronomy, which became his life-long study. In 1712 he visited the Duke of Marlborough at Antwerp, whence he proceeded with the Duke’s recommendation to Hanover, where he was received with great favour. A few months before the death of Queen Anne he was sent by that court over to England on a secret mission.1 Appointed secretary to the Prince of Wales at the accession of George I, he was returned for Bossiney, speaking for the septennial bill in 1776. On the breach between the King and the Prince in 1717, Pope wrote to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu:
I must tell you a story of Molyneux: the other day at the Prince’s levee, he took Mr. Edgcumbe aside, and asked, with an air of seriousness ‘what did the Czar of Muscovy, when he disinherited his son, do with his secretary?’ To which Edgcumbe answered ‘he was sewed up in a football, and tossed over the water’.2
At this time Molyneux told his kinsman, the first Lord Egmont, that when everyone was forced to choose between the King’s and the Prince’s courts ‘he had computed what every person concerned lost or gained by the party they chose, and that he found for £20 advantage the Prince’s court abandoned or stayed with him’.3 He himself adhered to the Prince, voting with the Opposition on the motion on Lord Cadogan in June 1717, the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts, and the peerage bill. In February 1722, after the reconciliation in the royal family, he supported Walpole’s proposal for a bridge across the Thames at Lambeth, declaring that ‘the building of the bridge would be agreeable to his highness and be convenient for his family’s passing and re-passing to his country house’.4
At George II’s accession Molyneux, having failed to secure a seat in the previous Parliament till 1726, was appointed to the Admiralty board. Returned for Exeter, which he had unsuccessfully contested in 1722, he was seized with a fit in the House of Commons, dying a few days later, 13 Apr. 1728, aged 38. Soon after his death his widow married a Swiss surgeon, who won an action for defamation on a charge of having killed him by administering opium to him in his last illness with her connivance.5
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Sir Capel Molyneux, Account of Fam. of Sir Thos. Molyneux, 35-38.
- 2. Works, ed. Elrington Ball, ix. 395.
- 3. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 375.
- 4. Stuart mss 58/38.
- 5. Chandos letter bks. 20, 21 Dec. 1721, 1 Feb. 1722; Molyneux, 38-39; A Letter from the Rev. Mr. Middleton to the Hon. Lady Molineux on the occasion of the death of the Rt. Hon. Samuel Molineux, Dublin, 1730; see Gent. Mag. 1781, pp. 320-1.