“And on his breast a bloodie crosse he bore,
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweet sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead as living, ever him adored;
Upon his shield the like was also scored,
For sovereign hope which in his help he had.”

“The nobles of our land
Were much delighted then,
To have at their command
A crew of lusty men,
Which by their coats were known,
Of tawny, red, or blue,
With crests on their sleeves shewn,
When this old cap was new."
Old Ballad.

WILLIAM DE MOULINS, the founder of the family, was so named, according to some authorities, from Moulins, a town of Bourbonnais, France. This derivation is open to doubt. The name more probably took its origin from some place in Normandy. There is a village of Moulineaux, situate at the foot of a hill about ten miles from Rouen, the church of which contains some curious sculpture of the thirteenth century. On the summit of the hill are the remains of an ancient stronghold known as the Chateau of Robert le Diable. Froissart also mentions the capture of a Castle of Molineux: “The lorde Courcy and the lorde de Ryuer,” so runs the chronicle, “beseiged Carentyne with great puissance, and at last they dyde so moche, that they had it by treatie, and so it was gyuen up to the obeysance of the Frenche kyng. Thus they had Carentyne, and put therein newe men of warre, and then departed and went to the Castell of Molineaux, and within three dayes they had it by treatie.” Carentyne, or Carenton, is a town in Lower Normandy, situate on the river Douve.

The spelling of the name Molyneux has varied at different periods, and at no time appears to have been fixed. In early manuscripts and in modern times Molyneux is the more common form, but in the intermediate age it was generally spelt Molineux.

To a deed by which Adam de Molines, grandson of William de Moulins, of Sephton, conveyed certain lands in Mellinge to the church of the Blessed Mary at Cockersand, is appended a seal, with his arms, a cross moline, circumscribed, “S. Adami de Molineus.” In the deed itself he is described, “Adamus ille dictus Mulans dedit in puram in perpetuam elimosinam beata Mariae de Cokersand quosdam acras terrae apud Meling et Conswugh vt patet in Libro Antiquo Abbatia predicta.”

The name of Molineux was anciently called by the common people in Lancashire “Mulas,” and it is so rendered in the Testa de Nevill, or Liber Feudorum, compiled temp. Henry III. and Edward I. Roger Gerneth, who held the lordship of Spec, or Speke, shortly after the Conquest, gave two carucates of land to “Richard de Mulas,” or Molineux. In some instances—that of Adam, Bishop of Chichester, for example—the name was spelt Moleyns.

The subjoined extracts from the Lancashire Lieutenancy, printed by the Chetham Society, illustrate the various modes in which the name of Molyneux was written in the sixteenth century.

A letter dated 1st November, 1568, addressed by Dr. Downham, Bishop of Chester, to Cecil, reporting the proceedings taken with the gentlemen of Lancashire in ecclesiastical affairs, and their conformity, encloses a decree, dated Lathom, 31st July, 1568, of Edward, Earl of Derby, and others, Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in the case of certain perons charged with recusancy, with the answer, among others, of “John Mollinex,” M.P. for Liverpool in 1585.

In the general levy of arms, armour, and horses in Lancashire, the above “John Mollinex” is styled “John Molyneux, of Mellinge,” and was required to furnish 1 Almayne, or coate plate, 1 Pyke, 1 Longe Bowe, 1 Sheefe arrowes, 1 Steele cappe, 1 Calliver, and 1 Morraine.

“Thomas Mollineux, of Hawkeley,” whose heir, Richard, was M.P. for Liverpool in 1563, the same, substituting 1 Black bill for the Calliver.

“William Mollyneux” to furnish 1 Coate plate, 1 Longe bowe, 1 Scheffe arrowes, 1 Scull bill.

“Robert Mollyneux,” 1 Long bowe, 1 Sheffe arrowes, 1 Scull bill.

In a dispatch dated 29th September, 1557, written by the Earl of Derby, as Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire and Cheshire, to the Earl of Shrewsbury, Lord President of the North, communicating the measures taken to array the levies in Lancashire and Cheshire “against the Scottish doings,” the number of forces, and the captains by whom they were to be commanded, a quota of 200 men is required to be furnished by “Sir Richard Molyneux, Knight,” or his son and heir, he being a feeble man himself.

The list of Rectors and Vicars of Walton-on-the-Hill, compiled by Baines from the Episcopal Registers, further illustrates this variation in nomenclature.

August 4th, 1543 Anthony Molinexe, R. Sir William Mollyneux
September 6th, 1557 Anthony Molinexe, R. Sir Richard Molinexe
March 24th, 8 Elizabeth William Heskethe, V. Alexander Mollinex
May 9th, 1621 Nevil Kaye, V. Alexander Moleneux
June 22nd, 1639 Andrew Clare, R. Richard Moleneux

Several places in the colonies are called after members of the family. Mount Sefton, Molyneux River (the largest in the colony), and Molyneux Bay, in New Zealand, Molineux Estate in the island of St. Kitts, in the West Indies, and Molineux Street, Port Franks, Dominion of Canada, perpetuate in “Greater Britain” the ancient and knightly name.

The Molyneux arms are azure, a cross moline, quarter pierced, or; those of the Teversal branch being almost invariably quartered with the coat of the Greenhalgh, of Teversal, through which family the estate was acquired. In like manner, the branch of Molyneux, Hawkeley, Co. Lancaster, springing from Thomas, second son of Sir Richard Molyneux, of Sefton, always quartered with their own the arms of Ince, of Hawkeley, Alan Molyneux having acquired that property through his marriage with the daughter and heiress of Gilbert Ince, of Hawkeley.

In 1567 ten generations of the Molyneuxes had been seated at Hawkeley, the representative at that time being Thomas Molyneux, Esq. The family appear to have resided there down to 1805, in which year the death is recorded, at Lymm Parsonage, of Bryan William Molineux, of Hawkeley Hall, Lancashire. The hall, a very ancient half-timbered structure embosomed in a dark wood, existed in 1836 as a farmhouse, but ruinous and dilapidated.

In the windows of Wigan Church, circa 1590, were depicted two shields of the arms of Molyneux, of Hawkeley,—azure, a cross moline, or, not pierced. In Warrington churchyard is a tomb of this family, with a boldly carved coat of arms, crest, helm, and mantling. The arms display the cross moline, pierced, with a mullet in dexter chief; the crest being the plume of peacock's feathers on a cap of maintenance. The inscription is as follows:—“Here lyeth the body of William Molyneux, of Hawkeley, Gentleman, who Departed this Life the 17th of February, 1697. Thomas Molyneux, Son of William Molyneux, of Hawkeley, Departed this Life the 28th of October, 1682.” “Richard Molineux, of Hawkeley, Gent., Died July 4th, 1748, Aged 47. Elizabeth, his wife, Died June 11th, 1767, Aged 42. Also, Mary, their Daughter, Died 28th November, 1775, Aged 42.”

A shield of Molineux, of Sefton, with sixteen quarterings, occurs on an armorial panel painting of the sixteenth century, preserved in the Warrington Museum.

Thomas Molyneux, Justice of Chester 22nd Richard II., second son of Sir Richard Molyneux, of Sefton, distinguished his coat armor by bearing azure, a chevron between three crosses moline, or.

Roger, son of Adam Molyneux, bore the cross moline, argent. This coat was formerly to be seen emblazoned in the windows of All Saint's Church, Chesterfield.

Sir John Molyneux, of Crosby, third son of Sir William Molyneux, bore the cross moline, crowned.

The seal affixed to a grant by Richard, son of Robert Molyneux, by his wife, Beatrice Villers, to his only brother, Simon, of lands called Hastencroft, has the Cross Flory, with the inscription, “Sigillum Ricardi de Mulynaus.”

Sir William Molyneux, of Sefton, Knight Banneret, added the Fleus-de-lis in the dexter canton of his coat armour, which is still borne by the Castle Dillon branch of the family.

Among the coats of arms supposed to have been emblazoned in the windows of Dereham Church, Gloucestershire, by Sir Gilbert Denys, who died possessed of the manor in 1422, is that of Molineux, azure, a cross moline, or. The church, which is dedicated to St. Peter, is traditionally asserted to have been built by Sir Maurice Russel, Knight, before 1401.

Adam de Molineux, son and heir of Richard de Molineux, of Sephton, is supposed to be the knight protrayed in the windows of Bridgenorth Church, in antique mail, clothed with a surcoat, and girt with a sword and spurs, over which is an equilateral triangular shield, whereon the arms of Molyneux are depicted.

In the church of Walton-on-the-Hill, advowson of which was possessed by the Molyneux family as early as 1470, having been purchased in that year by Sir Thomas Molineux, Knt., of the Abbey of St. Peter, at Shrewsbury, and of which parish Edward Molyneux was Rector 26 Henry VIII., is a corbel, on which is sculptured an angel supporting a shield charged with the cross moline. In the vestry is a square of old stained glass with the word “Patronus,” beneath which is the crest of Molineux on a cap of maintenance. Lower still is the achievement of Molineux, quartering twelve coats.

The corbels in the church of St. Michael, Aughton, Lancashire, are sculptured with figures of angels clothed in peacock feathers, the eyes being symbolical of their perpetual watchfulness. In their arms they hold shields; the second on the north side is charged with “two chvrons on a canton, a cross moline;” the second on the south side displays an eagle's leg, partly defaced—doubtless the crest of the family.

On a reference by order of the Court of Lancaster in 1657, it was awarded that Aughton was a district manor, and that Caryl, Viscount Molyneux, Laurence Ireland, and Bartholomew Hesketh were the three lords thereof.

In the chancel of Sefton Church are two achievements with the arms of the Molyneux and Brudenell; and on the east window is the following inscription: “Orate pro bono statu—Molineux Militis: Qui istam fiere fecit anno Dom. Millmo CCCCCXLIJmo,” with three shields of arms beneath. Near the tomb of Richard Molineux, Lord of Bradley, lie two cross-legged figures of Knights Templars of the Molyneux family.

Upon a brass to the memory of Sir Peter Legh and Lady, in Winwick Church, Lancashire, the knight's figure is depicted habited in the complete armour of his time, but with his head bare, and exhibiting the tonsure of a priest. On his breast is an escutcheon of arms, displaying in order—Haydock, Legh, Ashton, Molyneux, and parted per fes, Croft, and Butler.

In the church of St. Mary, Urswick, Co. Lancaster, among the fragments of stained glass in the east window is a cross moline, or, for Lord Molineux, of Bardsea Hall.

Upon the walls of the Episcopal chapel at Mellinge are two coats of the Molineux arms, and a tablet in memory of William Molineux, Mosborough, who died in 1744, and of Frances, his wife, erected by their sole heiress, Frances, wife of Sir Edward Blount, of Sodington, Co. Worcester, Bart.

Holle, in his Church Notes, taken in the reign of Charles I., previous to the Civil War, mentions that there existed in the chancel windows of St. George's Church, Stamford, among others, the arms of Molineux, of Haughton, Notts,—azure, a cross moline, quarterly pierced, argent.

The door-case between the great hall and large dining-room or parlour in Speke Hall, built in 1598, is richly ornamented with coats of arms and supporters; among others are those of the Duke of Brandon, first and fourth quarter, quartering Harrington and Mullineux on the second and third.

Over the door of Altcar Hall, near Liverpool—now an ordinary farmhouse—were formerly the arms of Molineux.

The ancient crest of the Molyneux family is a hat gu., turned up in front, er., with a plume of peacock's feathers; and was used by them from a very early period, probably from the first adoption of crests, about the time of Edward I. It seems to have been abondoned by the Teversal branch of the family about the time of James I. for another, granted it is said for their valiant services in Scotland—a dexter hand issuing from flames of fire, grasping an eagle'' leg, erased, all proper. This figure, although not before adopted as a crest, appears to have been used as a badge by the retainers of the family in the time of Henry VIII.

Allusion is made in the old ballad, “The Scottish Field,” a poem on the Battle of Flodden, to the device of an eagle's foot having been worn as a badge by the Lancashire levies who fought in that battle under the command of Sir John Stanley and Sir William Molyneux.

“Sir John Stanley, that stoute knight,
that sterne was of deedes!
With four thousand fursemen
that followed him after;
They were tenants that they tooke,
that tenden on the bishopp,
Of his household, I you bete,
hope ye no other.
Every burne had on his brest
browdered with goulde,
A fote of the fairest foule
that ever flew on wings!
With their crownes full cleare
all of pure goulde!
Yt was a semely sight,
to see them togeder
Fourtene thousand egill feete
feteled in arraye.
Then the Skottes king
called to him a heralde,
Biddeth tell him the truth,
and tary no longer,
Who were the banners of the burnes
that bode in the valley?
‘They are standartes of the Standles,
that stand by themselven,
Yf he be faren into Fraunce,
the Frenchmen to feere,
Yet is his standart in that stede,
with a styffe captaine,
Sir Henry Kighley is called,
that bene is of deede;
Sir Thomas Jarred that jollie knight
is joyned thereunder,
With Sir William Molynex,
With a manful meany.
Theis freakes will never flee
for feare of no weapon.
But they will stick with their standarts,
in their stele weedes,
Because they busked them at Berwick
That bolded them the more.”

According to the Harleian MSS., 2076, Sir Thomas Holland, Knt., bore a like crest.

The crest borne by the Irish branch of the family is a tiger passant arg., holding in his dexter forepaw a cross moline, or.

The motto, “Vivere sat vincere,” is now used by the Earls of Sefton, the head of the family. Their more ancient one (vide Visitation of Lancashire, 1567) was “En droit devant,” the memory of which has been preserved by the younger branch of Teversal, now represented by the Staffordshire and Sussex branches of the family.

The motto of the Castle Dillon family is “Stat fortuna domus vertute.”

On a flat marble in the chancel of Sefton Church are inlaid the effigies in brass of Sir William Molyneux and his two wives, with their respective coats of arms over their heads; and underneath his own shield quartering eleven other coats, besides that of Molyneux, with the motto “En droit devant.” Sir William is depicted in complete armour, the general aspect of which is that worn in England down to the reign of James I. The peculiar features are that his breastplate is emblazoned with the cross moline of his arms, a circumstance most unusual. His head is protected by a coif of mail in the fashion of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and he wears a very ample skirt of the same, reaching to his knees. This singular departure from the ordinary costume of the time was probably due to the sudden breaking out of the war with the Scots, the precipitate array preventing the complete arming of both knights and retainers. Sir William probably arrayed himself in portions of the armour preserved in his ancestral halls to meet the exigencies of the occasion.

“Then every lord and knight each where,
And barons bold, in musters met.
Each man made haste to mend his gear,
And some their rusty pikes did whet.
Some made a mell of massy lead,
Which iron all about did bind;
Some made a helmet for the head,
And some their grisly gisarings grind.
Some made their battle-axes bright,
Some from their bills did rub the rust,
Some made long pikes, and lances light,
Some pike-forks for to join and thrust.”

In the words of the old ballad—
“His old hall was hung about with pikes, guns, and bows,
With old swords and bucklers, that had borne many shrewde blows.”

In the vestry window in the church of Walton-on-the-Hill, Lancashire, is an achievement of the Molineux arms, quartering twelve coats, with the ancient motto, “En droit devant,” and date 1591.

Caryll, 3rd Viscount Molyneux, Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royalist Army during the Civil War, is said to have taken as a crest a reindeer's head, supported by five hands, an allusion to the five members, and for motto “Ad quid exaltis cornu!”