MOLYNEUX, Richard II (c.1559-1623), of Croxteth and Sefton, Lancs.

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

b. c.1559, 1st s. of William Molyneux by Brigitta, da. of John Caryll of Warnham, Suss. educ. Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1577. m. (1) by 1567, a da. of Lord Strange; (2) Frances (d.1621), da. of Sir Gilbert Gerard, 6s. 7da. suc. fa. 1567, gd.-fa. 1569. Kntd. 1586; cr. Bt. 1611.2

Offices Held

Hereditary constable, Liverpool castle; steward of Blackburn hundred, duchy of Lancaster 1581; j.p. from c.1583; mayor, Liverpool 1588-9; sheriff, Lancs. 1588-9, 1596-7; collector royal loans 1590, 1597; commr. subsidy 1594, 1599, musters 1596, 1599; receiver-gen. duchy of Lancaster 1607; butler in Lancashire bef. 1611.3


Molyneux inherited from his grandfather the lordship of Liverpool and other hereditary offices which opened up the prospect of a distinguished local career as soon as he attained his majority. In the meantime he was a ward of his future father-in-law, Sir Gilbert Gerard, who returned him to Parliament for Wigan in place of Edward Fitton, who pleaded employment on the Queen’s business. But, on 18 Mar. 1581, the last day of the session, the House changed its mind about allowing replacements for living Members, and ordered Fitton to ‘stand and continue’. In 1584 and 1593 Molyneux obtained election for the county. It was probably he, rather than John Molyneux II, who was named to the subsidy committee, 24 Feb. 1585, and he was named to a committee on 4 Apr. 1593 concerned with measures against recusants. As knight for Lancashire he was entitled to attend the subsidy committee (26 Feb. 1593) and a legal committee (9 Mar. 1593).4

Like his grandfather before him, Molyneux had disagreements with the corporation of Liverpool. In 1592 he also contrived to quarrel with the 4th Earl of Derby, lord lieutenant of the county, canvassed successfully for one of the county seats at the forthcoming election in the face of Derby’s opposition, and, presumably after the 1593 session of Parliament, which ended on 10 Apr., was committed to the Fleet, making his submission to the Privy Council in May. By the time of the next election he was sheriff, and seized the opportunity of taking a small revenge by sending back to London the election writ on a technicality.5

No doubt because of his Catholic relations, the question of Molyneux’s religion was closely watched. An anonymous letter to Walsingham dated 29 Dec. 1586 accused him of Catholic sympathies, but in 1587 ‘he hath lately showed himself very well affected and there is great hope of him, being courteously used’. Three years later he was said to make ‘show of good conformity, but many of his company are in evil note’. Perhaps this was the reason why he received the sinister cross against his name on Lord Burghley’s map of Lancashire that same year, 1590, indicating that he required careful watching. It was alleged that Mass was regularly said in the private chapels at Croxteth and Sefton, but there does not seem to have been any evidence against Molyneux himself. In 1592 he was described as being ‘of the better sort’. The preamble to his will suggests that he ended his life by conforming, but this does not necessarily indicate his religious opinions during the Elizabethan period. Still, as justice of the peace and sheriff of the county, he appears to have displayed sufficient zeal in the persecution of priests and recusants to win him the favour of Sir Robert Cecil. In August 1598 he claimed of late to have brought in many ‘to be comers to the church and to hear divine service, which were before recusant’. He played the normal part of a leading gentleman in the military affairs of the county. In 1600 and again in 1601 he was required to furnish one light horse for Ireland.6

He made his will 1 Apr. 1618, hoping to be buried without pomp or unnecessary charge, in ‘my chancel’ in the parish church of Sefton. He wanted a ‘fair tomb made over us [himself and his wife] with two alabaster pictures laid thereupon’. With the exception of one manor in Leicestershire, which was to be sold to pay his debts, he left all his property to his eldest son Richard, his sole executor, who was to pay an annuity of £100 to three younger brothers, and to receive a large jewel set with diamonds, 18 diamond buttons and a necklace of pearls at a total value of £1,400. The rest of the jewels, plate, goods and chattels were divided between Richard and his mother. Molyneux was buried on 8 Feb. 1623 in Sefton church.7

Ref Volumes: 1558-1603

Author: N.M.S.


  • 1. Served as substitute in 1581 session.
  • 2. Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxi), 104; Foster, Lancs. Peds.
  • 3. Somerville, Duchy i. 501; Lansd. 53, f. 178; J. A. Twemlow, Liverpool Town Bks. ii. 531, 1069, 1070; APC, xx. 186-7; xxvi. 460; CSP Dom. 1603-10, p. 364; 1611-18, p. 38.
  • 4. Foster, Lancs. Peds.; PCC 30 Neville; D’Ewes, 308, 356, 517.
  • 5. APC, xxiv. 256-7; see also LANCASHIRE.
  • 6. Harl. 286, art. 60, f. 97; Lansd. 53, f. 178; Gillow, Burghley’s Map of Lancs. 40; HMC Hatfield, iv. 241; v. 486-7; vii. 496; viii. 293; xiv. 179; xv. 200; APC, xxx. 440; xxxii. 283.
  • 7. PCC 128 Swann.