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Molyneux (/ˈmɒlɪnj/; Old Norman: De Molines or De Moulins) is a French surname. The surname has been linked primarily to a large Norman family that settled in Lancashire, United Kingdom from Normandy following the Norman Conquest. By the 14th century the Molyneux family had become so large that it split into three main branches; the Lancashire line, who became the Earls of Sefton, the Nottingham line, and the Calais line, from family still left over in Normandy. There was also a branch of the family who were Irish baronets.[2]

Canting arms of Molyneux: Azure, a cross moline or
Language(s)Old Norman
Meaning"Moulineaux", derived from the French Moulin (meaning "mill of the waters")[1]
Region of originFrance
Other names
Variant form(s)Mullenax, Mullinax, Molinex, Mullinix, Mullenneix, Mullennix, Mullineaux, Molinieux, Molinaux, Molineaux, Mollineaux, Molineux, Mulling, Molyneaux
Shields showing differing crests of branches of the Molyneux family

Etymology and historyEdit

Moulineaux in the Normandy region of France, ancestral home of the Molyneux family.

The ancestors of the Molyneaux family who arrived in England with the Normans bore the name "de Molines" or "de Moulins", Old Norman in origin, meaning "Mill", and eventually changed into "Molyneux". The early historical background of the family is sparse, coming from scattered genealogical, historical, and archaeological sources, composed of a mixture of legend, romanticized literary invention, and fact. Some historians derive the de Moulins came from Moulineaux-sur-Seine, near Rouen, in Normandy where they were guardians of Château de Robert-le-Diable.[3][4] The earliest claimed common ancestor of the family is said to be Robert de Moulins of Château de Moulineaux in Moulineaux-Sur-Seine, called a follower of William of Normandy, though no surviving source attests to his existence.

St. Helen's Church was built as the Molyneux family chapel in Sefton Merseyside in 1170.

Other sources claim the family originally came from Moulins, France. Wherever their origin, Robert de Moulins' son, William, settled in Lancashire. He had two sons William and Vivian de Moulins. Roger the Poitevin who possessed large tracts of land in Lancashire in what was then called inter Mersam et Ripam, that is, "between the Mersey and the Ribble"[5] by gift of the crown gave Molyneux large land holdings and the manors of Septon (Sefton), Thornton, Cuerden, ten carucates and a half of land, at the service of half a knight's fee. William Molyneux made Septon his chief seat and was succeeded by Vivian de Molyneux.[6][7][8]

They also held the Manor of Little Crosby, later Ince Blundell Hall, which had been held by one Uctred until 1066. By 1212 it was owned by Richard de Molyneux of Sefton before being turned over to the Blundell family. The Molyneuxs later owned most of the districts of Speke and Rainhill.[9] The Royalist gentry family held a large moated manor, a corn mill on the River Alt, and the advowson of St. Helen's Church at Sefton without interruption from about 1100 to 1700. Their successors, by then Earls, moved to Croxteth Hall.[10] Of the Sefton Molyneux family, crusaders Richard (d. 1290) and William Molyneux (d. 1320) are entombed within the church, and are the its oldest inhabitants. Their effigies now lie beneath an arch moulding set into the wall in the Molyneux chapel, which is outside of the 14th-century church walls.

In 1436 the office of Hereditary Steward of the Wapentake of Salfordshire was granted to Sir Robert Molyneux of Sefton. The office was held by Sir Robert's successors (descendants of his brother Richard), the Earls of Sefton until 1972. It was the Lancashire line of the family that became the Viscounts Molyneux and later the Earls of Sefton, while there were also branches seated at Nottingham and Calais.

Croxteth Hall, Home of the Earls of Sefton branch of the Molyneux family.

The senior branch of the Sefton family had been staunch Catholics and Royalists (notably in the 17th and 18th centuries) through the worst times until Charles Molyneux, 8th Viscount Molyneux, was rewarded for converting to the Protestant faith. The relatively youthful second and third Viscounts fought on the Royalist side both politically and militarily. Although Liverpool Castle had been partly dismantled in 1660–1678, Caryll Molyneux, the 3rd Viscount, had used it for storing arms. During the reign of King James II, he was outlawed by Parliament for supporting the deposed king in 1688 to 1689. Control of the Castle finally passed out of Molyneux hands after Caryll had again been suspected of participation in a Jacobite plot. William, the 7th Viscount, was a Jesuit, and there were in his time not less than seven Molyneux in the Society of Jesus alone.

Variations of the surname include "Mullinax", "Mullenax", "Molinex", "Mullinix", "Mullenneix", "Mullennix", "Mullineaux", "Molinieux", "Molinaux", "Molineaux", "Mollineaux", "Molineux", and several others.[11]



Notable persons with the surname Molyneux, include:

Viscount MolyneuxEdit

For Viscount Molyneux see Earl of Sefton, and in particular


Molyneaux is a rare Irish spelling variant.[12] People with this spelling variant include:





American spelling variation descended from Jonathan Molyneux


American spelling variation descended from Richard Mullinix


Other persons bearing the name Molyneux :


  1. ^ Home. "International Molyneux Family Association". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  2. ^ Home. "International Molyneux Family Association". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  3. ^ Pilgrim Alden: the story of the life of the first John Alden in America with the interwoven story of the life and doings of the Pilgrim colony and some account of later Aldens pp119-128
  4. ^ The Norman people and their existing descendants in the British dominions and the United States of America. Henry S. King & Co., 1874
  5. ^ Morris, John (ed.) (1978). Domesday Book:Cheshire. Phillimore & Co. pp. R1:1–45.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  6. ^ Edward Kimber and Richard Johnson, The Baronetage of England: Containing A Genealogical and Historical Account of all the English Baronetts Now Existing, Vol. I, Published 1771, Printed for G. Woodfall, and others pp. 59–60
  7. ^ Edward Kimber, The Peerage of Ireland, Vol. II, Published by Printed for J. Almon, London, 1768, pp. 26–31
  8. ^ Molyneux, Nellie Zada Rice (1904) History, Genealogical and Biographical, of the Molyneux Families. Syracuse, N.Y., C. W. Bardeen. p. 9
  9. ^ Moss, John. "Old Historic Families of Manchester, Cheshire and Lancashire 7". Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  10. ^ Sefton Historic Settlement Study. Merseyside Historic Characterisation Project, Museum of Liverpool (December 2011)
  11. ^ International Molyneux Family Association.
  12. ^ "Surnames Database:Molyneaux". Retrieved 2016-04-09.

See alsoEdit