Viscount Robert Molesworth

Molesworth, Robert, Viscount Molesworth, son of an opulent merchant, was born in Dublin, December 1656. He was educated at Trinity College, and married a sister of the Earl of Bellamont. In 1688 he espoused the cause of William of Orange, and was consequently attainted, and his estate sequestrated by James's Irish Parliament. He was, by William III., who had an especial esteem for him, created a Privy-Councillor; and in 1692 was sent envoy to Denmark. After three years' residence, he became obnoxious to the King for "pretending to some privileges which by the custom of the country are denied to everybody but the King; as travelling the King's road, and hunting the King's game."[195]

He retired to Flanders, where he wrote an Account of Denmark, in which he represented the government of that country in a very unfavourable light. It created great discussion, and drew forth several answers, the Danish envoy at St. James's presenting a memorial to William III. against it. In this work Molesworth showed himself the strenuous friend of civil and religious liberty, and the bitter opponent of the clergy. It secured him the friendship of Locke and Molyneux. He subsequently became a member both of the Irish and English Commons. In 1713 he was removed from Anne's Council Board, for saying of the clergy, who had come with an address to the Lord-Lieutenant: "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." By George I. he was appointed to several offices of trust in Ireland, and in 1716 was advanced to the peerage. He was an active member of the Royal Society, and it was said that "few men of his fortune and quality were more learned, or more highly esteemed by men of learning."[196]

Locke styles him an "ingenious and extraordinary man." He died at Brackenstown, County of Dublin, 22nd May 1725, aged 68, and was buried at Swords. [His son John, 2nd Viscount, filled several diplomatic offices on the Continent, and Richard, 3rd Viscount, a captain of horse, saved the life of the Duke of Marlborough at Ramillies. His daughter (see MONCK, MARY) was the author of several poetical pieces.]


37. Biographical Dictionary: Alexander Chalmers. 32 vols. London, 1812-'17.

54. Burke, Sir Bernard: Peerage and Baronetage.

196. Irishmen, Lives of Illustrious and Distinguished, Rev. James Wills, D.D. 6 vols. or 12 parts. Dublin, 1840-'7.

216. Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, Revised and Enlarged by Mervyn Archdall. 7 vols. Dublin, 1789.