MOLYNEUX, Sir Francis, 4th Bt. (c.1656-1742), of Kneeton and Teversall, Notts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



6 Jan. 1693 - 11 Jan. 1700
Dec. 1701 - 1705

Family and Education

b. c.1656, 1st s. of Sir John Molyneux, 3rd Bt.†, of Teversall by Lucy, da. of Alexander Rigby† of Middleton, Lancs., wid. of Robert Hesketh of Rufford, Lancs.; bro. of Thomas*.  educ. Laughton-en-le-Morthen sch. (Mr Broomhead); Christ’s, Camb. 1672, MA 1675; G. Inn 1673.  m. bef. 1687, Diana (d. 1719), da. of John Grobham Howe† of Langer, Notts. and sis. of Emmanuel*, John Grobham* and Sir Scrope Howe*, 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 3da.  suc. fa. as 4th Bt. Oct. 1691.1

Offices Held

Freeman, East Retford 1708, Nottingham 1717.2

Keeper of the walk, Sherwood Forest by 1720.3


Molyneux belonged to a junior branch of the Molyneuxs of Sefton, who had been settled in Nottinghamshire and at Haughton, Lancashire since the late 15th century. His father, who represented Wigan in the Convention of 1660, had strong Parliamentarian and Presbyterian links. Molyneux was aged six at the visitation of the county in 1662 (as was a cousin and namesake). He was named as a suitable appointee to local office in February 1688, suggesting an affinity with the group of strong Whig collaborators operating in Nottinghamshire politics. His attitude to the Revolution is unknown. Having succeeded to the baronetcy, Molyneux was returned for Newark at a contested by-election in January 1693, taking his seat on the 28th. He was classed as a Court supporter by Grascome in his list of 1693. In the 1693–4 session he was named to one drafting committee before being given leave of absence for the recovery of his health on 23 Feb. 1694.4

Returned again in 1695, Molyneux was nominated to two conference committees on the coinage in January 1696 and acted as a teller on 16 Jan. on the Whig side on the Hertfordshire election case. He was forecast as likely to support the government in the division on 31 Jan. over the council of trade. He was teller on 15 Feb. against an amendment to the bill for further regulating elections, which would allow Members sitting for the universities to dispense with a landed qualification. He also signed the Association, and having received leave of absence for three weeks on 4 Mar. was back by the end of the month to vote for fixing the price of guineas at 22s. His parliamentary record during the session brought him to the attention of the Whig leaders during the summer of 1696. Thus, the Duke of Devonshire (William Cavendish†) felt able to recommend him to his fellow lords justices ‘as a person very deserving of the government and very well affected to it’. Similarly, Sir Wiliam Trumbull* informed the Earl of Portland in October that Molyneux was ‘entirely devoted to the King, his government and interests’. He continued to show his worth in the next session, voting on 25 Nov. 1696 for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†, and telling on 21 Jan. 1697 against a clause to except the queen dowager’s annuity from the land tax, and again on 5 Feb. in favour of going into ways and means to raise the supply for the war. He was granted leave on 27 Mar. He does not seem to have been very active in the 1697–8 session, receiving leave of absence on 23 Dec. 1697 and again on 6 Apr. 1698, the last time for the recovery of his health.5

Molyneux was again successful at Newark in 1698. He was classed as a member of the Court party on a comparative analysis of the old and new Parliaments, and voted on 18 Jan. 1699 against the disbanding bill. He was unseated on 11 Jan. 1700. In September of that year he was accepted as a ‘lay correspondent’ for Nottinghamshire by the SPCK. He switched to the county for the second election of 1701, and was classed as a ‘gain’ by Lord Spencer (Charles*). In 1702 he received the backing of the Duke of Devonshire in his successful campaign to secure re-election. He voted on 13 Feb. 1703 for agreeing with the Lords’ amendments for enlarging the time for taking the oath of abjuration. He supported the Whig candidate, John Thornhagh*, in the Nottinghamshire by-election of March 1704. In the following session he was forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack and accordingly did not vote for it on 28 Nov. 1704. On 7 Dec. he was teller against committing the bill to restrain the making of buttons out of horses’ hooves.6

Molyneux did not stand for re-election, but continued to be active in county politics. When the Nottinghamshire Whigs were considering candidates for the 1708 election, John White* was willing to allow him first refusal should he wish to partner Thornhagh. In 1710 he cast votes for the Whig candidates in both the county and borough elections at Nottingham. In 1714 he was asked to stand in the Whig interest for the county but declined. He was very active as a deputy-lieutenant between August and December 1715, although he refused a militia command ‘by reason of my age and my infirmities’. Molyneux died on 12 Mar. 1742.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Eveline Cruickshanks / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Vis. Notts. (Thoroton Soc. xiii), 62; Boyer, Pol. State, xvii. 122.
  • 2. Notts. RO, Portland mss DD3P/20/5, list of freemen; card index of Nottingham freemen.
  • 3. Add. 32686, f. 159.
  • 4. Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 121; Luttrell Diary, 390.
  • 5. CSP Dom. 1696, p. 269; BL, Trumbull Misc. mss 51, Trumbull to Portland, 27 Oct. 1696.
  • 6. Chapter in Eng. Church Hist. ed. McClure, 78; Devonshire mss at Chatsworth House, Whildon pprs., Grosvenor to James Whildon, 7 May 1702; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Holles) mss Pw2 167, J. Neale to Newcastle, 6 Mar. 1703–4.
  • 7. Notts. RO, Portland mss DD4P/64/21/2, William Jessop* to Newcastle, 22 Oct. 1707; Pollbks. of Nottingham and Notts. 1710 (Thoroton Soc. Rec. Ser. xviii), 35, 79; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Molyneux pprs. Mol. 27, Ld. Pelham to [Molyneux], 9 Sept. [1714]; Add. 70388, Levinz to Lord Oxford (Robert Harley*), 11 Sept. 1714; 32686, ff. 40, 45–46, 67–68, 77–78, 84.