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Royal Naval Biography/Molesworth, John


Second son of the late Richard Molesworth, Esq. many years Accountant in the Army Pay Office, by Catherine, daughter of Francis Cobb, Esq., of Twickenham, and brother to the present Viscount Molesworth.

This officer is descended from Sir Walter De Molesworth, one of the Knights of the Cross who accompanied King Edward I. into the Holy Land. One of his ancestors. Anthony Molesworth, married a rich heiress, and fixed his residence at Fotheringay, co. Northampton; but from liberal habits, and the expenses incurred by entertaining Queen Elizabeth at his seat, he became so much involved, that he disposed of the greater part of his landed possessions to discharge the incumbrances. His great grandson, Robert, several years ambassador at the court of Denmark, was advanced to the Irish peerage in 1716. The present peer succeeded to the title on the demise of his cousin, William John, sixth viscount, (great-grandson of the first), a major-general in the army, and lieutenant-colonel of the ninth regiment of foot, who perished with his lady, on board the Arniston transport, near the Cape of Good Hope, May 31st, 1815.

Mr. John Molesworth was born at Peckham, co. Surrey, in July, 1789; and first went to sea in the Plover sloop. Captain Edward Galwey, in April 1800 He afterwards served in the Culloden 74; and was a midshipman on board the Canopus 80, flag-ship of the late Sir Thomas Louis, at the battle of St. Domingo, Feb. 6th, 1806; at the capture of the French frigate Presidente, Sept. 27th, in the same year; and in the expedition against Constantinople under Sir John T. Duckworth, in Feb. 1807[1]. We subsequently find him in the Malta 84 and Ocean 98, the latter ship bearing the flag of Lord Collingwood, by whom, we believe, he was made lieutenant into the Imperieuse frigate, Captain Lord Cochrane, on the Mediterranean station, April 24th, 1808. His succeeding appointments were, about Oct. 1809, to the Partridge sloop; and, Aug. 26th, 1811, to the America 74, Captain (now Sir Josias) Rowley, by whom he was officially commended for his conduct at the capture of a French convoy, under the batteries of Languilla, May 20th, 1812[2]; and when serving on shore at the reduction of Fort Santa Maria and other works in the Gulf of Spezia, in Mar. 1814. He also bore a part in the operations against Leghorn and Genoa, in 1813-14[3]. After the surrender of the latter city, he was employed in fitting out the French vessels of war found in the mole, clearing the naval arsenal, embarking stores, and launching, equipping and loading with timber, a 74-gun ship, which had been found on the stocks in an unfinished state. He continued in the America until she was paid off, about Oct. 1814. His last appointments were, in 1815, to the Impregnable 104, flag-ship of Sir Josias Rowley, with whom he returned to the Mediterranean, after Napoleon’s escape from Elba ; and, in the end of 1818, to be flag-lieutenant to the same officer on the Irish station, where he continued until Dec. 1821; on the 14th of which month he was advanced to the rank of commander.

This officer married, Feb. 6th, 1828, Louisa, daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Tomkins, of Buckenhill Park, co. Hereford. One of his brothers, Anthony Oliver Molesworth, is a first lieutenant in the royal artillery.