Sir Richard Molyneux
Military Career
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                 The Military Career of Richard, Lord Molyneux, C. 1623-54.                 

                                               J. M. Gratton, BA MEd

Although it is indisputable that James Stanley seventh Earl of Derby was widely regarded as the major Lancashire royalist, especially in the first and third civil wars, in terms of activity and enthusiasm for the Royal cause, two other Lancashire personalities deserve more attention than they have hitherto received — Sir Thomas Tyldesley and Richard Lord Molyneux. Of these two prominent Royalist leaders Tyldesley figures far more amongst both contemporary observers and later commentators.1 In contrast Lord Molyneux has remained a shadowy figure. Virtually nothing is known of his character nor how he was regarded by his contemporaries.2 Furthermore most secondary accounts have failed to document in Full the contribution Molyneux made to the Royalist side in a career which saw him rise to the rank of brigade commander and led to his fighting as far north as Cumberland, as far south and east as Brentford and as far west as Montgomeryshire.

The Molyneux, primarily yet not exclusively Roman Catholic, had emerged by the seventeenth century as the second most important family in Lancashire, second only to the Stanleys. When James I introduced the new order of baronets in 1611, Sir Richard Molyneux of Sefton was the second baronet in all England. Sir Richard was created first Viscount Molyneux of Maryborough in the Irish Peerage in December 1628. In the same year he was Deputy-Lieutenant of Lancashire but noted as a recusant and non communicant. The First Viscount was one of only two Royalist gentry in the county who held an important office of state between 1625 and 1645 being Receiver-General of the Duchy of Lancaster. His brother, that is our subject’s uncle, Sir Vivian Molyneux, a scholar, traveller and Royalist agent in the 1640s, was also uncle of Robert Earl of Caernarvon, Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire. The family’s influence was especially strong in south west Lancashire where many leading gentry families such as Fazackerly of Fazackerly, Fazackerly of Kirkby, Hulme of Maghull, Mercer of West Derby, Molyneux of the Wood and Standish of West Derby, had been in the Molyneux’s service.3 When he became second Viscount, young Richard Molyneux acquired considerable estates in Sussex through his mother Mary, daughter and co-heir of Sir Thomas Caryll of Denton, as well as land throughout the county of Lancashire especially in Leyland Hundred. Locally Sefton, Kirkby, Tarbock and Toxteth with many parcels of land in all other manors around Liverpool were in the Molyneux estates. The family’s total income in the 1640s has been estimated at £4,080 per annum compared with the Derby’s income of at least £6,000 per annum derived from extensive property in thirteen counties as well as the Isle of Man. The second Viscount held significant local offices including Master Forester of the Forest and Park of West Derby, Steward of Salford and West Derby, Constable of Liverpool Castle, Steward of Blackburnshire, Tottington and Clitheroe, Butler of County Palatine of Lancaster and Admiral of Lancashire.4

Richard Molyneux, the eldest son of Sir Richard Molyneux of Sefton first Viscount Molyneux Maryborough, was born about 1623. The exact year of his birth is of some importance. Not only does it have some bearing on the relationship between Molyneux and Lord Strange, later the seventh Earl of Derby, but it also lends point to the nature of his military career.5 The year of Molyneux’s birth has so far escaped detection. The Dictionary of National Biography gives c. 1617. Newman gives both 1620 and 1623. Broxap goes for 1623, no doubt following the evidence presented by Earle and Radcliffe, and it is this year that I have accepted,6 Strange was 29 years old in 1636 and thus 16 years Molyneux’s senior. It is possible that this age gap was one of the factors which led to the strained relationship between the two men in the early years of the war. Derby’s cautious and relatively ineffective leadership up to March 1643 cannot have appealed to the more active even impetuous Molyneux, while the more aggressive stance of the Royalists which culminated in the ridiculous disaster at Whalley and the fall of all the major Lancashire towns by May 1643 apparently widened the rift between Derby and his lieutenants. Through their close association during the First Civil War it seems clear that Molyneux found the methods and possibly also the company of Thomas Tyldesley, a person respected even by his enemies, infinitely more attractive than that of the well- meaning yet morose and diffident Earl. Nor can the vexed question of his supposed child marriage to Henrietta Maria, the daughter of Derby, have helped to cement a close relationship. The continuing deadlock over this affair may well have had something to do with the attitude of the redoubtable Countess of Derby but this is speculation. Very little is known of Molyneux’s activities between 1636 and 1642. No evidence that he played a part in trained band work or fought overseas has come to light, neither is it known to what extent he was personally involved in both the various law suits arising from his position as second Viscount and the quarrel over the lordship of the town of Liverpool.7

It is quite apparent that in the early months of 1642 Molyneux was not regarded by Parliamentarians as being among the leading Lancashire Royalists in so far as Royalists before the summer of 1642 can be identified. For example ‘A True and Perfect Diurnall’ which deals with events from 3rd July to 9th July does not mention Molyneux but does include, apart from Strange, Sir Gilbert Houghton, George Middleton and Thomas Tyldesley.8 Yet, no doubt because of his rank, Molyneux had figured second behind Lord Strange in the list of Lancashire Royalist commissioners of array issued at York on 11th June 1642.9 Though for some appointment as commissioner was unwelcome, it seems for Molyneux to have acted as a spur and he attended the meeting at Preston Moor on June 20th when the commission of array was read: nor did Molyneux miss the ill-fated banquet at Manchester on July 15th. A further indication that Molyneux was ready to play a full part in the Royalist hierarchy was his inclusion in the commission of peace of summer 1642.10

The activities of prominent Royalists during the months of July, August and early September are not known in detail but it is reasonable to suggest that they were occupied recruiting and training troops in readiness for the first clash of arms. This came in the siege of Manchester from 24th September to 30th September 1642. Molyneux was present as a commander and also led one of the five troops of horse. Although the regimental structure of the Lancashire Royalist army is vague at this point it seems clear that Molyneux’s regiment of foot was already in existence. At least five officers of the regiment were at the siege.

Soon after the abortive siege of Manchester the Lancashire Royalists departed to join the main Royalist field army in the Edgehill campaign. The three regiments of Molyneux, Sir Gilbert Gerard and Charles Gerard comprising some 800 to 900 foot, left for Shrewsbury during the week ending Friday 14th October.12 The units reached Charles I in time for the battle of Edgehill on 23rd October. It is known that Tyldesley was at the battle and must be assumed, despite lack of evidence, that he acted as Molyneux’s lieutenant-colonel so as to nullify any inexperience on the young Viscount’s part. At the battle Molyneux’s foot, which Young estimates at 320 men, by some margin the weakest foot regiment in the Royalist army, was stationed in the first line together with Sir Gilbert Gerard’s men and the Welsh regiment of Sir Thomas Salisbury. It is difficult to assess exactly what losses Molyneux’s regiment, part of Henry Wentworth’s tertia, sustained at the battle as evidence is conflicting. It has been suggested that the comment contained in one contemporary account, ‘who never came to charge at all so they stood entire’, had Wentworth’s tertia in mind. P. Young in his assessment of the casualties excludes the Lancashire regiments from his list of units which suffered heavily in the battle. Some indication of a regiment’s casualty level may be gained from the amount of powder issued to each regiment in the first week of November 1642. Of 18 regiments only five received the least amount (50 lbs), Molyneux’s was among the five; moreover Molyneux’s was one of the last to be supplied. As Young himself observes, ‘such theorizing can be pushed too far’, but the evidence thus far presented seems to show - that Molyneux’s foot, notwithstanding the loss of its major, came off less severely than other regiments.

This conclusion must be squared with the comment of the Parliamentarian author of the ‘Discourse of the Warr in Lancashire’ which states that most of the men Tyldesley, probably Molyneux’s lieutenant-colonel, took to Edgehill, ‘never returned home’. The writer may well be making a political point by emphasizing the misery caused by the Royalist recruiting of the summer of 1642 or he may be reporting heavy losses sustained at Edgehill by Molyneux’s men. The evidence to support the latter assertion is not extensive. Three Lancashire Royalist gentlemen met their deaths at this battle and only one, Major Henry Byrom definitely fought under Molyneux, while Captain Henry Ogle, captured at Edgehill, may have been in the regiment. Evidence regarding common soldiers of the regiment and their fate is lacking. Of 80 Lancashire Quarter Sessions Petitions made by maimed or indigent soldiers between 1660 and 1674 only one mentions Edgehill, the soldier in question surviving the fight. The statement ‘never returned home’, could be interpreted in two ways; either the common soldiers under Tyldesley perished at the battle or they did not return home north with Molyneux late in 1642, but fought at Brill, Bristol, Gloucester, Newbury I etc., engagements which considerably reduced the strength of Molyneux’s foot regiment. The question remains unresolved but on balance it appears that the losses of Molyneux’s regiment at Edgehill were comparatively slight.3 By 31st October Francis Saunders had replaced Byrom as major. After the attack on Brentford Molyneux’s regiment was posted to one of the important ring of garrisons defending Oxford — Brill on the Hill; with it was Sir Gilbert Gerard’s regiment and Gerard was governor. Molyneux was not at Brill when Gerard beat off a strong attack by the Parliamentarian Colonel Goodwin on 27th January 1643. By this time Molyneux and Tyldesley had returned to Lancashire and lieutenant-colonel Roger Nowell was probably the regiment’s field commander.14

Once back in their native county Molyneux and Tyldesley put their freshly gained experience into effect and began further recruiting. Their return also seems to have galvanised Derby into a measure of reorganisation. On 10th December 1642 at Preston Derby held a meeting to resolve the question of how new recruiting was to be financed and what administrative machinery was required. Molyneux was not at Preston but was at Wigan twelve days later at which time recruiting and the distribution of troops was being examined.15

When Derby finally swung his main field army into action Molyneux played a prominent role. He was with the Earl in Cheshire in early February of 1643 organizing troops at Chester. Present at the storming and burning of Lancaster on 18th March 1643, he then won a cavalry action against one of the Shuttleworth's near Preston. The latter town was retaken by Derby and possibly Blackburn also.16

After these successes Derby seemed poised for a rapid domination of the whole county. The natural follow-up would seem to have been an attack on Manchester but this never took place. Firstly the Royalists suffered reverses at Bolton and Wigan and secondly some of Derby’s units, those of Molyneux and Tyldesley among them, were ordered to join the main field army at Oxford. No documentary evidence exists of this order, its authenticity rests on the authority of John Seacome, the eighteenth century historian and apologist for the Stanleys, who claimed the order reached the Earl at Chorley at 2 a.m. on 27th March.17

The final debacle took place at Whalley on 20th April when the Royalists were defeated in a farcical action. Molyneux retreated southwards and on 23rd April was at Newton near Warrington seeking supplies. Eventually he was joined by Tyldesley and for the next three weeks they twisted and turned in desperation in their attempts to evade the pursuing Parliamentarians. They quartered in the Royalist stronghold of the Fylde and while there were ignored by Derby as he left Lancashire for the Isle of Man. After the disaster at Whalley Derby, apparently in response to his senior officers, had gone to York. There busily establishing herself and preparing to join her husband at Oxford was Queen Henrietta Maria having landed at Bridlington in February 1643. Derby’s frantic entreaties for assistance were favourably received but the Queen was unable to act at once and Derby retreated over the Pennines ostensibly to quell a revolt in the Isle of Man. The Parliamentarian writer of the ‘Discourse of the Warr in Lancashire’, a prime source of the conflict written in 1655, takes up the story. ‘The Lord Molinex quarters were in Clifton and Mr Tildsleys in Kirkham and while they laid there the Earle of Darbie with a few horse passed by Clifton with little or no speach of him and so into the North of White Haven and taking Shipping there went to the Isle of Man leaving his Countess and Children at Lathom’. 18

It seems then that the Parliamentarians were well aware of the gulf which existed between Derby and his two main supporters. Derby himself mentions a degree of disunity after calls to go to York to appeal to the Queen for help — ‘which I did, leaving yet some considerable forces in Lancashire under the government of the Lord Mollineux and other of our side (with whom nevertheless is a large story of the great troubles I had with them, as well as with the enemy, before I could possibly return).19 Why did a rift develop between the senior Lancashire Royalist commanders? Up until the March campaign, the capture of Lancaster and the recapture of Preston little evidence of disunity exists, nor should we expect it to, for in March and early April 1643 the war was going well for Derby. The inevitable recriminations over the defeat at Whalley no doubt caused dissension. Molyneux and Tyldesley may well have attributed the reverse to Derby’s lack of leadership, although the Earl could have pointed out that Tyldesley, reputedly a soldier of experience, was at fault in his reconnaissance and thus failed to anticipate the Parliamentarian ambush which was the main cause of the ensuing Royalist panic and defeat. The gulf may have been simply personal, heightened by a personality clash and in Molyneux’s case by a 16 year age gap and the still unresolved question of Molyneux’s marriage with Derby’s daughter, but here we enter the treacherous currents of speculation. Whatever the reason the lack of contact between the Earl and his colleagues spelt death for the Royalist cause in the county.

The question of whether the order from Oxford existed or not does not alter the general military situation. It was well known that the desire of the King’s advisers was to hasten the movement southwards of as many troops as possible, in order to deal more effectively with the Parliamentarian armies. Queen Henrietta Maria wrote to her husband on 18th May 1643 justifying her intention to reconquer the North before moving towards Oxford, ‘for instead of an army which you should have had out of the north, you will have one in the North and a little one which will go to you, and Lancashire regained which could have been lost…..’. Thus the Lancashire commanders found themselves torn between three courses of action. They could continue the struggle in their native county, go to Yorkshire in the hope of an early return, or leave for the South as soon as possible. Such uncertainty was not helpful in restoring a spirit of co-operation between Derby and his lieutenants, already faced with a virtually impossible military position in Lancashire.20

In their anxiety to escape the Parliamentarian patrols Molyneux, Tyldesley and other prominent Royalists were forced to withdraw northwards into the Furness area where they plundered from 20th May to 23rd May. It was then, nearly two months since the supposed order to march to Oxford, that the Royalists split up. Tyldesley, Middleton and Girlington amongst others, went eastwards into Yorkshire to join the Queen and the Earl of Newcastle. Tyldesley moved south with the Queen and collected a Knighthood for his daring storm of the bridge at Burton on Trent (2nd July). Molyneux also moved southwards but through Lancashire. Neatly evading Parliamentarian forces he called at Lathom on the way but was unable to prevent the loss of Wigan, Liverpool and Warrington. Molyneux crossed the Mersey at Hale Ford and fled into Cheshire.22

It is presumed that Molyneux rested briefly at Chester before making his way southwards. The few facts available are a little difficult to reconcile but a plausible account to explain his movements between late May and early July can be compiled. On 31st May Molyneux was at Culham Camp outside Oxford just one week after being at Furness. Fast riding by a few horsemen was quite possible and the source is quite explicit. ‘May 31st 1643 The Lord Molyneux received into his Mat’s stores from Lieut-Col. Nowell 8 muskets and barrells’. If Molyneux rejoined his foot regiment then what became of his horse regiment? Two possibilities present themselves. It may have accompanied Molyneux to Oxford and then been taken westwards to link up with Lord Capel in the West Midlands or, and perhaps more likely, the regiment, under a lieutenant-colonel or major, stayed in Cheshire and then joined Capel in Shropshire. No documentary evidence survives to support either assertion, but we do know that in early July Molyneux had rejoined his horse, some 200 strong, and was seen at Leominster in Herefordshire with ‘noe arms or very few’, a situation which would not have arisen had they first been to Oxford.23 That the horse regiment was operating under the aegis of Lord Capel is proved by Falklands letter of 10th July. This makes it clear that Molyneux’s horse had formed part of Capel’s force which was assisting in the convoy southwards of Queen Henrietta Maria’s army. It also shows us that when the Queen reached Kings’s Norton in Worcestershire Molyneux’s regiment along with two others was to continue with the Queen’s army where it was reunited with the regiments of Tyldesley and possibly Thomas Dalton. On 27th July Molyneux appeared before Brampton Bryan Castle with several troops of horse, with foot and battery cannon. During this operation a poor blind man was killed in the streets of Brampton Bryan and Molyneux was to gain a reputation for cruelty and licence which was to dog him and his brother for the rest of the war. The attempt on the castle failed. 24

The arrival of Molyneux in the south coincided with Charles l’s aggressive push into the West Country in order to consolidate the fine work of Sir Ralph Hopton, the King’s general in those parts. Bristol was the first target and the two foot regiments of Sir Gilbert Gerard and Molyneux found themselves side by side in Prince Rupert’s tertia. One of the most savage episodes in the siege of Bristol was the Royalist assault on the strongpoint Priors Fort. ‘Major Sanders, Major Perkins, Major Burgess, the two Captain Astons, Captain Nowell and some two hundred and fifty men, fell directly upon the spur itself, came up to pistol and push of pike with the defenders through the bars, and threw nine grenadoes into the work.’ A second attack followed.‘Plainly both works and line were so well defended that ours, being able to do no more than give testimony of their valour, and having lost Captain Nowell and 19 men, after an hour-and-a-half’s fight, perceived there was no more good to be done upon them.’ Apart from Nowell, who was lieutenant-Colonel Roger Nowell’s brother, Molyneux lost Captain Ashton. 25 Despite these and other losses Bristol fell to the Royalists but the ensuing siege of Gloucester 26th to 31st August was to prove abortive. Both Molyneux and Gerard fought at this siege, where the Viscount was noted among the plunderers, they then participated in the battle of Newbury 20th September 1643. Despite his growing zeal in the royal cause Molyneux was not promoted for this battle but led his foot regiment in Sir Gilbert Gerard’s tertia, while by this time his horse regiment had joined the army. In this hard fought contest no fewer than eight Lancashire officers, some from Molyneux’s foot regiments, either perished or sustained wounds. Most serious of all was the extinction of Dalton’s horse regiment through the fatal wounding of both its colonel and lieutenant-colonel.26

The battle of Newbury necessitated a reappraisal of Royalist forces in the south. Molyneux’s horse regiment was ordered to garrison Chipping Campden in north Gloucestershire. But any thoughts of a cosy sojourn were rudely shattered when in mid-October the regiment was surprised in a night attack by one Serjeant-Major Bridges from Warwick. ‘About 300 of the King’s horse came from Oxford into the town of Cambden, whereof the Parliament’s Forces in Warwick Castle having special intelligence, there came on a considerable partie of them, in the midst of the night, into the said town, suppriz’d most of them in their beds, and carried them away prisoners to Warwick Castle, together with all their horses. there were between 30 and 40 of them that for some space stood stoutly to oppose our forces but they were soon quelled and some of them slain in the fight.27

In truth the surprise of Molyneux at Campden was a symptom of the Lancashire Royalist regiments’ weaknesses. Best among them was Colonel Sir Gilbert Gerard’s foot which was posted to Worcester in December 1643 when Gerard assumed his appointment as governor of that important city. But the remainder was in tatters. Dalton died at Marlborough on 2nd November and his troopers seem to have been absorbed into Tyldesley’s horse regiment. The units staggered into their Hampshire quarters only to receive an important missive on 9th November from the King. ‘To our trusty and well beloved Lord Mullineux and to the officers of the regiments. . . . Whereas wee have given you directions to march with your regiment of horse, Colonel Tyldesley’s regiment of horse and foot and Coll. Dalton’s from your quarters in Hampshire and speedily to repair higher, and so from hence to the Northern parts for our special service.’28

The ‘special service’ to which Charles referred was to reconquer the north-west. By the autumn of 1643 Lancashire and Cheshire were in the hands of Parliament. The hopes of a revival in the north led by the Earl of Newcastle were endangered by the threatened advance of the Scots over the border. To counter-balance the Scots Charles and his advisers intended to employ the English army since 1641 fighting rebels in Ireland. Once a cessation of hostilities was arrived at in Ireland soldiers would be freed to return to England for the King’s use. The truce was signed on 15th September. 3,000 troops were to cross the Irish Sea and a Force would be sent to receive them at Chester, the sole Royalist port in the area. As Charles cast around for troops his advisers had suggested the suitability of the Lancashire Royalist regiments for the task. They were weak numerically and thus would not constitute a major drain on the main field army; the troops also would no doubt welcome a move nearer home and a chance to recover some prestige at the expense of Sir William Brereton, Ralph Ashton and the rest of the north west’s Parliamentarian military hierarchy. To lead the march of 1,000 horse and 300 foot to Chester the King chose the ambitious, ruthless Lord John Byron. Of Byron’s courage and zeal in the royal cause there could be no question, but this was his first independent command and the sorry state of the soldiers he was to lead to Chester cannot have boosted his self- confidence overmuch.29

Molyneux’s horse regiment certainly went north with Byron and there are indications that the foot regiment, now much depleted, also marched northwards.30 There is no direct evidence that Molyneux participated in the disastrous defeat of Bryon’s army at Nantwich on 25th January 1644. It seems likely, however, that he was involved in the campaign prior to the battle. Molyneux was active around Audley, Staffordshire, about 12th January at the time when Byron was busy attempting to thwart Fairfax’s plans to put together a relief column at Stafford, a column designed to raise the Royalist siege of Nantwich.31

The partial destruction of Byron’s ‘Irish’ army precipitated the arrival in the north of Prince Rupert. The coming of the Prince certainly revived the Royalist cause in Lancashire during the summer of 1644. One of the Prince’s minor objectives was to relieve the formidable Countess of Derby who was cooped up in Lathom House. The return of the Earl of Derby from the Isle of Man and the appeal of the Chester garrison — Molyneux and Caryl his younger brother were among the signatories — impressed upon Rupert that the relief of Lathom as the touchstone upon which any Royalist revival in Lancashire rested.”

It is not known when Derby, Molyneux and Tyldesley, reunited for the first time since the reverses of Spring 1643, actually joined Rupert’s army.33 They were certainly present at the storming of Bolton (28th May) and then at the siege of Liverpool. The tiny port was a useful acquisition for Rupert. It provided an extra Royalist haven in the area to receive further reinforcements from Ireland and it eliminated its use as a base from which Parliamentarian ships had challenged Royalist men-of-war in the Irish Sea. The capture of Liverpool must have been especially sweet for Molyneux and his brother Caryl for, because of the dispute over control of the ferry and other issues, there was no love lost between the Molyneux and the Corporation. For their part later Parliamentarian accounts put the blame for the heavy handed assault of 11th June which ended the siege firmly on the shoulders of the two brothers ‘in regard of the cruelties acted heere by him and his brother’. Edward Moore claimed that, ‘yt is now Lord Mullinex Killed 7 or 8 pore men with his owne hands: good Lord deliver us from ye cruelty of blud-thirsty Papest.’34

Liverpool taken, Rupert delayed for a fortnight reassembling his army and training fresh recruits. He then crossed the Pennines on his way to relieve the beleaguered Earl of Newcastle at York. Hard pressed by Scots, northern Parliamentarian troops and the detachments from the - Eastern Association York was relieved on 1st July. The next day battle was joined at Marston Moor. At this famous struggle Molyneux was given his first and possibly only high military command. The question arises, why. Tyldesley was the senior Lancashire Royalist present both in terms of age and experience but Molyneux was his social superior. It is unlikely, however, that Rupert arranged his dispositions with anything but military considerations in mind and therefore it must be presumed that Molyneux had already furnished the Prince with evidence of his fitness to command. Molyneux led a brigade of 800 horse in the second line on the Royalist right which was under the overall leadership of Byron. Molyneux may also have led Rupert’s own horse regiment and at the age of 22 was one of the youngest Royalist brigade commanders in the entire war. For such an important battle much of what took place on the evening of 2nd July 1644 remains a mystery and Molyneux’s part in it is difficult to determine. The latest historian to survey the engagement, Peter Newman, considers that when Cromwell on the allied left clashed with the Royalist right he met considerable resistance which lasted for an hour. This resistance, one commentator speaks of 'an iron wall’, was led by Molyneux and Tyldesley before sheer weight of numbers forced a withdrawl.35

The Royalist horse fled back across the Pennines and Rupert made for Chester. Molyneux and Tyldesley were sent off to try and recruit more troops in Lancashire. Soon they were joined by other Royalist fugitives including Byron himself, George Goring and Sir Marmaduke Langdale, in all some 2,500 horse. Pursuing them was the Scots professional, Sir John Meldrum accompanied by Lancashire Parliamentarian units. Meldrum finally caught up with the Royalists south of Ormskirk on 20th August. In more of a skirmish than a battle the Royalists were decisively scattered, Tyldesley and Molyneux were both thought to be dead, while in fact Byron and Molyneux were forced to find ignominious refuge in a cornfield. Byron, never slow to attribute blame in defeat, wrote a scathing report on the performance of Molyneux’s troopers. ‘S’r Marmaduke had sent most of his owne horse before, and the retreat beeinge to bee made by my L’d Molyneux his brigade, they (accordinge to their accustomed manner), upon a volley of musket shott from the enemy, fell foule in such fury upon my regiment, that they utterly routed it; and the enemy’s horse, takeinge advantage of the disorder, charged into the lane (through w’ch wee were to pass), tookeand killed some, and stroke such a terror into the rest that they could not bee stopped till they came to Liverpool’. It was the last time Molyneux fought in his native county.36

Byron was not so richly endowed with cavalry that he could dispense with the services of the Lancashire horse. Having regrouped at Chester the units were soon in action again, this time in mid-Wales. Sir Thomas Myddleton had captured the important Montgomery Castle and on 18th September 1644 Byron, in his attempt to retake it, was again worsted. Tyldesley was unlucky or careless enough to be captured while Molyneux escaped to Chester. In the search for scapegoats the Lancashire troopers again attracted blame. ‘All the Lancashire horse ran without a blow struck’, wrote Arthur Trevor, a well known Royalist Writer and commentator, who nevertheless might have been seeking to enhance the conduct of the Denbighshire cavalry present under his brother Mark.37

Montgomery was the occasion of Byron’s fourth defeat in succession and he and Molyneux never co-operated again. Early in 1645 Molyneux left Chester with what remained of his horse troop and resolved to throw in his lot with the two Princes Rupert and Maurice. In some respects it was whatsuited Molyneux best — the daring ambush, escape, limited cavalry actions — he had experienced these already during his brief military career — he was to see many more in the course of the next eighteenth months In February 1645 Molyneux was at Bridgnorth in Shropshire with Sir Lewis Kirke, then governor of the town. It is during this period that the Viscount probably met Prince Maurice. In late April Molyneux and his horse were noted coming to Bewdley, Worcestershire, a move suspected by Brereton to be part of a concerted Royalist plan to embarrass the Parliamentarian siege of Chester. By May 1645 Molyneux was in the King’s horse before Leicester and commanded Prince Maurice’s Lifeguard, one body of about 150 gentlemen and reformadoes (that is, officers whose previous companies of regiments had been disbanded).38 Leicester fell on 3Oth May and the King’s army moved southwards to Naseby. Here Molyneux again commanded Maurice’s life-guard and was in the front line of Rupert’s cavalry which swept Ireton from the field only to miss the rest of the battle. Again evading capture, Molyneux was quartered at Bewdley where in mid-August his position was beaten up by some Scots detachments and many prisoners taken. Still at liberty, Molyneux accompanied Maurice to Worcester.39 The extent to which Molyneux had thrown in his lot with the Princes is illustrated by events in October 1645. Rupert had surrendered Bristol on 11th September and thereby exasperated the King. Relations deteriorated between Charles and his nephew to such an extent that Rupert left Oxford to confront the King at Newark. At Banbury Rupert was joined by Maurice and Molyneux but near Belvoir Castle the Royalist party of some 120 was halted by 300 enemy horse under Rossiter. A fierce skirmish ensued — ‘The Army came down the hill in disorder and the P[rince] beat them, and Ld. Molineux Killing a man upon a good mare, the P[rince] now mounted himself, and he fast and swiftly went to Bevoir. But some of the Baggage the other way was lost and 14 men.40 Some 60 Royalists were captured but Molyneux’s charmed life continued. The Princes moved on to Newark and an unseemly meeting was held with the King. The Rupert party signed a petition to Charles over the question of the appointment of the Newark governor but Molyneux’s name is not among the 22 signatories. Either he had not dared to side openly with Rupert against the King or he had left to team up with his old compatriot, Sir Thomas Tyldesley, now operating in the Midlands.41

As the year drew to an end Molyneux, in company with Sir Gilbert Gerard and Egerton, was seen to move towards Stourbridge and Kidderminster. ‘The behaviour of the troops in no way improved Molyneux’s already tarnished reputation, for they were described as ‘the most rude, ravenous and ill governed horse that I believe ever troade upon the Earth’. Hereafter Molyneux was garrisoned at Stafford. On New Year’s Day 1646 his quarters were beaten up and many prisoners taken. After this he probably retreated to the great fortress of Lichfield where Tyldesley was governor. On 22nd January Tyldesley was surprised and nearly captured by Captain Stone the Parliamentarian governor of Stafford. Among Tyldesley’s party were twelve gentlemen reformadoes of Lord Molineux’s troop.42 After this Molyneux wandered westwards and sought shelter in the Shropshire fortress of Ludlow. There on 27th May 1646 Molyneux’s war came to a close when the town surrendered.43

‘The end of the war did not bring an end to Molyneux’s troubles. Although he had taken the National Covenant and Negative Oath on 20 August 1646 this did not prevent the seizure of his horses by the committee for Sussex as he went towards London to prosecute his composition. At the same time the old dispute with Liverpool over the Lordship of the borough and the control of the ferry and mills flared up.44 At his composition Molyneux was fined £3140, yet nothing daunted by his heavy fine nor inhibited by the oaths he had taken Molyneux soon resumed Royalist activity. It is not known why he continued to plot against Parliament. Desperation has been suggested. Whatever his motives Molyneux became involved in a conspiracy to free the King who had been on the Isle of Wight since November 1647. The plan was to rendezvous at Kingston and use ships manned by mutinous elements in the navy to sail and rescue Charles. In the plot with Molyneux were the Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Holland. The hazardous existence of an active Royalist in 1648 is illustrated by Molyneux’s experience in June and July of that year. On 30th June 1648 Molyneux, no doubt preparing for the climax of the Kingston plot, was arrested at Islington well within the ‘20 mile exclusion zone’ set up to deter Royalist activity within the capital. The authorities’ fears were well founded for the Council of State was forced to announce ‘That no prisoners of quality should any more be brought to London, because as Lord Molyneux, who was discovered and taken at Islington near London, had been brought thither, the apprentices having risen followed the coach, and were like to have rescued him from the guards’. As no other information on this incident has so far been discovered it is impossible to say whether the apprentices found Molyneux a popular figure in his own right, whether it was a general expression of sympathy for the Royalist cause or merely an excuse for a riot.45

Molyneux was released quickly. On 5th July the Royalists about Kingston were reported to be 500 strong. Molyneux is known to have been present. Whether he was released deliberately so as not to prejudice the total overthrow of the enterprise, or whether his face simply fitted is again not apparent. But on 7th July a warrant was issued for his arrest, the next day his case was examined, Sir John Evelyn was one of his interrogators, and on 9th July he was discharged and his horses returned. Molyneux’s lucky star was still shining brightly for while he was being held the rising had taken place and been crushed.46

Molyneux’s release and the collapse of Royalist resistance at last concentrated his mind on the vital legal and financial difficulties which faced him as a result of his composition. Pressing question included the salary of the vicar of Huyton, the loss of rental income withheld by the Committee for compounding, while in addition to his composition fine Molyneux had to settle some £9,000 in pre-war debts and family liabilities.47

Molyneux’s legal and financial difficulties did not close his mind to a problem which must have been in his thoughts for many years, his projected marriage to Henrietta Stanley. Improved relations between the two men or perhaps, more cynically, Molyneux’s financial difficulties might have been the motivation behind the renewed attempt to seek the lady’s hand. To this end he was given leave on 16th October 1650 by Colonel Birch governor of Liverpool to send two envoys to the Isle of Man in order to discover Henrietta’s intentions. Her reply, if any existed, is unknown.48 In local circles Molyneux was still regarded as a dangerous personality and was of course not allowed to go to the island himself. Indeed in the following year, on 17th March 1651, the Viscount, now back on his Lancashire estates, was arrested and brought to Liverpool upon a suspicion of being connected with a projected landing of the Earl of Derby at Formby. By August Molyneux was back in London having been granted a special pass and thus missed Derby’s actual invasion from the Isle of Man which culminated in the defeat of the Earl’s army at Wigan on 25th August 1651 when Sir Thomas Tyldesley was killed.49

With the final collapse of the Royalists at Worcester, a battle at which, contrary to some sources, Molyneux was not present, the Viscount entered a more settled, albeit brief, period of his life. He did marry, but not Henrietta Stanley; instead his partner was Lady Frances Seymour, eldest daughter of William Marquess of Hertford. The wedding took place in London on 28th October 1652 but less than two years later Molyneux was dead, buried at Sefton on 2nd July 1654.50

Modern opinion of Molyneux’s effectiveness as a Royalist commander has not been especially favourable. ‘He was only 19 at the outbreak of the Civil War and though he took some part in the fighting he was not personally of much advantage to his party in Lancashire’, and ‘Molyneux was a young man of little influence’.51 Nor were contemporary commentators unanimous on the scale of Molyneux’s contribution. By the Propositions of Uxbridge (late 1644) three Lancashire Royalists were excluded by Parliament from pardon but Molyneux was not among them. Two years later the three, Derby, Sir John Girlington and Thomas Tyldesley were joined by two other names, John Preston and Molyneux’s younger brother Caryl (Propositions of Newcastle).” On the other hand a petition of 1647 styles Derby, Molyneux and Tyldesley as ‘chief incendaries of he war’.53

The most recent of the commentators on the Earls of Derby, Barry Coward, has referred to the lukewarm nature of the support The Earl showed for the King at the end of 1642.54 If the Lancashire Royalist cause was to revive then Derby was probably not the man to instigate such a renaissance. His dove-like attitude contrasts with the hawkish mood of Molyneux and Tyldesley who were not• particularly anxious to support Derby’s attempt to hold the county community together if this meant a lack of commitment to Charles. Molyneux was clearly eager to bear his share of the responsibility in the more aggressive stance adopted after his return from the south. Did he also see in the more vigorous prosecution of the war the opportunity to destroy the dominance of the Stanleys in Lancashire, a dominance which had long rankled with the Molyneux family? Moreover did not Derby’s attempt to exclude Roman Catholics from his army represent a snub to Molyneux and Tyldesley until the growing strength of the opposing party forced the Earl to allow their employment?53 By March 1643 the two commanders had, between them, raised five regiments which were used both inside and outside the county. There is little doubt that Molyneux and Tyldesley, not Derby, were the chief influence behind the Lancashire Royalist revival of March and April 1643. As such they, along with the Earl, must take their share of the responsibility for the Royalist failure in the county.

Of Molyneux’s courage and zeal in the Royalist cause we require no additional evidence. Yet how effective a Royalist was he? His recruiting achievements were impressive enough but how does he rate as a commander? Within the main Royalist army Molyneux’s military horizons were quickly widened, although his experience in Lancashire in 1643 were by no means negligible and given the slender evidence available Molyneux appears to have performed at least as well as other leaders. Back in the north in 1644 he clearly impressed Rupert in the lead up to Marston Moor and was rewarded with a brigade command. After this, in common with most other Royalist leaders, Molyneux experienced little save defeat. His ability to control cavalry was twice called into question, at Ormskirk and Montgomery, though his ability to evade capture must have excited admiration. He never assumed an independent command of substance after Montgomery and only in his renewed relationship with the two Princes did he probably discover his true military milieu. It was at this period, 1645, that Molyneux was perhaps at his most happy for in his personal life financial difficulties and disappointment continually dogged him. Did military activity supply the Viscount with a form of escapism?

In the last few years the Viscount’s determination to resist the growing power of Parliament seems at last to have weakened. Compared with Tyldesley whose steadfast irreconcilability led to his death at Wigan Lane in 1651 Molyneux was a broken reed. The illness which was to claim him at the early age of 31 may have already begun to blunt his vigour, but this, like much else in this short and in someways tragic life, will remain a mystery.


I W. Beaumont, ed. A Discourse of the War in Lancashire, (Chetham Society, (hereafter Chet. Soc.) 62, 1864), p. 19; C. Ormerod, ed. Lancashire Civil War Tracts, (hereafter CWT.) (Chet. Soc., 2, 1844), pp. 22—24; E. Broxap, The Great Civil War in Lancashire (1910), p. 28; J.L. Malcolm The English People and the Crown’s Cause (1977), p. 177; P.R. Newman, Royalist Officers in England and Wales, 1642—1660. A Biographical Dictionary (hereafter Newman RO.) (1981), p. 381. See also Newman s thesis, ‘The Royalist Army in Northern England 1642-1645’, (hereafter Newman, thesis) unpublished D. Phil. Thesis, University of York (1978).

2. Two letters written by Molyneux in 1636 are printed by Lady Newton, The House of Lyme (1917), pp. 144—145. They throw l light on his character.

3 TA. Earle and RD. Radcliffe, ‘The Child Marriage of Richard, Second Viscount Molyneux with some notices of his life, from contemporary documents’, (hereafter E and R), Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (hereafter TIISLC, 43/44 (1891/1892), p. 248; B.G. Blackwood, The Lancashire Gentry and the Great Rebellion 1640—1660 (Chet. Soc., 3rd Series, 25, 1978), pp. 48, 46; Historical Manuscripts Commission (hereafter HMC), Portland MSS, I, p. I; Calendar of State Papers Domestic (hereafter CSPD) 1640, p. 537; also CSPD, 1644 p. 81; BW. Quintrell ‘Government in perspective: Lancashire and the Privy council, 1570—1640’, THSLC, 131 (1981), p.38.

4 J.H. Stanning ed., Royalist Composition Papers IV (Lancashire and Cheshire Record Society (hereafter LCRS) 36, .1898), p. 149; E and R, pp. 248, 270; Blackwood, op. cit., pp. 30n.29, 58, 67n.26

5 before 29 Sept. 1642 the 7th Earl is known as Lord Strange, after that date as Derby.

6 E and R. pp. 246, 250. Radcliffe’s meticulous researches into the genealogy of the Molyneux family are to be found in the Merseyside County Council, Archives Section, Molyneux Muniments, 94/4/I Radcliffe Papers. P.R. Newman, Marson Moor (1981), p. 79; Newman thesis, 2 p. 144; Broxap, op. cit. p. 27. For other possible indications of Molyneux’s youth see CSPD, 1639, p. 308 and CSPD, 1640, p. 200.

7 E and R. pp. 249 n. 250—255; G. Chandler and E. Saxton, Liverpool under Charles 1 (1965), pp. 247—249.

8 CWT., pp. 20—44.

9 J. Harland, Ed. The Lancashire Lieutenancy, (Chet. Soc., 50, 1859), p.280.

10     CWT., pp. 13—14, 325—330; R. Hutton, ‘The failure of the Lancashire Cavaliers’. THSLC, 129 (1980), p. 51; D.j. Wilkinson, ‘The Commission of the Peace in Lancashire 1603—1642’, THSLC, 132 (1982), p. 45.

11 CWT., p. 51. Foot officers present at the siege and known to be in Molyneux’s regiment were Henry Byrom, Roger Nowell, Henry Ogle, Francis Saunders and one of the Ashtons of Penketh. P. Young, Edgehill (1967), p. 230.

12  L[ancashire] R[ecords] O[ffice] DDP/2437/6 and DDF 2437A Newman, thesis, 2 p. 144 states that some troops of Molyneux’s horse went to Edgehill.

13  The only evidence that Tyldesley was a lieutenant-colonel at Edgehill is on the Wigan Lane• monument erected in 1679. It is printed in Young, Edgehill, p. 193. Young’s observations on casualties and powder supplies are in ibid., pp. 123 123, 131—31, 172 and 178. Beaumont, Discourse pp. 19—20. Two members of the Radclyffe family are reputed to have died at the battle, C.P. Hampson, The Book of the Radclyffes, (Edinburgh, 1940), p. 183. Captain Ogle is in CWT., p. 169. Byron’s death is recorded in, inter alia, Newton, House of Lyme, p. 180. The maimed soldiers’ petitions are in Lancashire Record Office (Q.S.P.).

14  Young op. cit. pp. 178, 185; I Roy, ed. The Royalist Ordnance papers (Oxfordshire Record Society, part I 1963/4; part 2 1975) p. 159.

15  Wigan Public Library, Anderton Papers 16/3 and 16/3A; GWT., pp. 66—68.

16  JR. Phillips, Memoirs of the Civil War in Wales and the Marches (1874), I,p. 141; Royalist Composition Papers, VI (LCRS, 65, 1942), pp. 15—16; CWT., pp. 85, 96, 132. Broxap oft cit., p. 78 throws doubt on Molyneux’s cavalry victory but gives no reason for doing so. He was probably unaware of the existence of Brewer, a local Royalist officer present at the action. Newman, RO. p. 42.

17 CWT., p.96 The source of this story appears to be John Seacome, If true it seems peculiar that Molyneux was still in the county in late May. J. Seacome, Memoirs at the house of Stanley to 1735 (1741), p. 84.

18 Beaumont, Discourse, p. J. Kendrick, ‘An Account of the Warrington Siege, AD. 1643’, THSLC, 4 (1851—2), pp. 31-32; Broxap, op. cit., pp. 84-85; M.A.E. Green, ed., Letters of Queen Henrietta Maria (1857), pp. 190, 203-206.

19 J. Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby, History and Antiquities of the Isle of Man (Manx Society, 3, 1858),p.12: F.R. Raines, ed. The Stanley papers, III (Chet. Soc., 70, 1867), p.8.

20 CWT., pp. 95-98. Green, Letters of Henrietta Maria, p. 205. Newman, both in his thesis and his Biographical Dictionary, has gone some way in resurrecting Derby’s reputation as a military commander.

21 J. West, Furness (1774), p. li.

22 Beaumont, Discourse, pp. 37-39; CWT., p. 160. Hutton, THSLC, 129, p.57, states that both Molyneux and Tyldesley went into Yorkshire but gives no evidence to support his statement.

23 Roy, op. cit., p. 104; HMC, Portland MSS, III, p. 111. In June the foot regiment was said to be at Abingdon. Newman, thesis, 22, p. 385.

24 E. Warburton, Prince Rupert and the Cavaliers (1849), 2, p.227. The fact that Dalton’s name is not linked with Molyneux in July makes it more likely that he went south with Tyldesley, This modifies my previous argument in J.M. Gratton, ‘Thomas Dalton of Turnham: A Lancashire Royalist Colonel’, Recusant history, 16 (1982), pp. 89-90. For the siege of Brampton Bryan Castle between 27 July and 6/7 August see J. and T.W. Webb, Memorials of the Civil War between Charles I and the parliament as it affected Herefordshire and the Adjacent Counties (1879), 1, p. 318 For this and other references from Webb I am indebted to Mr. John Lewis. See also Warburton, op. cit., 2, p. 227.25 Warburton, op. cit., 2, pp. 248-249; Young, Edgehill p. 142.

25 Warburton, op. cit., 2, pp. 248-249; Young, Edgehill p. 142.

26 Roy, op. cit., p. 280; Gratton, op. cit,. pp. 89-90; Webb, op. cit,. 1, p. 332.

27 J. Willis Bund,, The Civil War in Worcestershire (1905), p. 105. C. Whitfield, A History of Chipping Campden (1958), p. 122.

28 Gratton op. cit., Newman, thesis, 2, p. 144.

29 J. Lowe, 'The Campaign of the Irish Royalist Army in Cheshire November 1643 - January 1644', THSLC, III (1959).

30 L.R.O., QSP, 239/38 1663; CWT., p. 169; Young, Edgehill, p. 230. A list of Officers Claiming to the Sixty Thousand Pounds etc. Granted by His Sacred Majesty for the Relief of His Truly-Loyal and Indigent Party (1663) columns 26 and 95.

31 Byron's two letters, to Ormonde on 30th January 1664 (T. Carte, ed. A Collection of Original letters and Papers 2 vols, (1739), 1, pp. 61-62) and to Rupert, 14 January 1644 (B.L. Add. MSS 18981. f.8) imply that Byron made use of additional troops not directly involved in the siege of Nantwich. I am grateful to Mr. R.N. Dore for help on this point. See also Webb, op. cit., 1, p. 351.

32 The appeal of the Chester garrison was signed on 23 march, 1644. F.R. Raines, ed. The Stanley papers, I (Chet. Soc. 66, 1864), p.cii

33 Newman, Marston Moor, p. 58 claims, in error, that Molyneux's horse regiment was brought north by Rupert. Young makes the same mistake Marston Moor (1970). p. 64.

34 Chandler and Saxton, op, cit., p. 362; T. Heywood, ed. The Moore Rental (Chet. soc., 12, 1847), p. 17. Caryl's prominence in post Restoration Lancashire is well documented but his early career is very shadowy. See however, Newton, House of Lyme, p. 171.

35 Newman, Marston Moor, p. 80. See also Young, Marston Moor, p. 129.

36 Cheshire Sheaf, 1st. series, vol 2 (August 1880), p. 134; CSPD, 1644, pp. 442-443

37 J.R. Phillips, op cit., 2, pp. 206-209; R.N. Dore, 'Sir Thomas Myddleton's Attempted Conquest of Powys, 1644-5', Montgomeryshire Collections, 57 pt. 2 (1962), p. 100. That this was not the first time Trevor had been critical of the Lancashire horse is shown by his letter to Ormonde in September 1644 where the derogatory references to the Northern Horse and its ill conduct in Chester certainly refer to the Lancashire cavalry. Carte, op. cit., 1, pp. 61-62.

38 Warburton, op. cit., p. 521; HMC, 10th Sept. Appendix iv, p. 436; C.E. Long ed. The Diary of Richard Symonds (Camden Society, 74, 1859), p. 181; Brereton to Lieutenant General David Lesley, 21 April 1645, in R.N. Dore, ed. The Letter Books of Sir William Brereton Vol 1 (LCRS, 123, 1983-4), No. 314. For this last reference my thanks are due both to Mr. Dore and Mrs. J. Kermode.

39 A. Woolrych,, Battles of the English Civil War (1966), p. 126; Long, op. cit., pp. 223, 245

40 P. Morah, Prince Rupert of the Rhine (1976), p. 203; HMC, Potland MSS. III, p. 290.

41 Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, Newark on Trent. The Civil War Siegworks (1964), p. 22 and note. The petition signed by 22 Royalists is undated. It relates to mid-Nov. 1645.

42 Webb, op. cit., 2, 245 and 256; Long, op. cit,. p. 277; B. Whitelock, Momorials of English Affairs (1682), p. 565; HMC., Portland MSS, 111, pp. 343-167.

43 E and R. p. 261; Stanning, Royalist Composition Papers, iv (LCRS, 36), pp. 149-167.

44 Chandler and Saxton, op. cit,. pp. 247-249, 339, 362-364.

45 Victoria County History, Hampshire, 5, p. 349; CSPD, 1648-9 p. 148; E and R. p. 27; J.R. Powell and E.K. Timings, ed. Documents relating to the Civil War 1642-1648 (Navy Record Society, 1963), pp. 332-334, 454-364; Newman, R.O., p. 259.

46 CSPD, 1648-9, pp. 148, 165, 169, 175, 178; HMC, Portland MSS, 111, p. 478.

47 E and R. p. 268; Blackwood op. cit, p. 117. Despite his financial problems Molyneux was said to have sent £2,500 to Charles II. T. Birch, ed. A Collection of The State Papers of John Thurloe (1742), IV, p. 245.

48 CSPD, 1650, p. 389.

49 Liverpool Records Office, Moore Deeds and Papers 775; CSPD, 1651. p. 531.

50 E and R. pp. 274-277.

51 Broxap, op. cit., p.27.

52 Blackwood, op. cit., pp. 121, 151 n.93.

53 J. Lunn, History of the Tyldesleys of Lancashire (1966), pp. 83-84.

54 B. Coward, 'A Crisis of the aristocracy', in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries? The case of the Stanleys, Earls of Derby, 1504-1642', Northern History, XVIII (1982), p. 74.

55 ibid., p. 75 n.63