Molesworth, Richard (DNB00)

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MOLESWORTH, RICHARD, third Viscount Molesworth (1680–1758), field-marshal, born in 1680, was second son of Robert, first viscount Molesworth [q. v.] He was destined for the law and was entered at the Temple, but abandoning his studies set off with a servant to join the army in Holland, where he presented himself to his father's intimate friend Lord George Hamilton, earl of Orkney [q. v.] He served at first as a volunteer and was afterwards appointed captain in Orkney's regiment, the Scots Royal (1st foot), with which he was present at Blenheim (' Blenheim Roll ' in Treasury Papers, vol. xciii.) He was one of Marlborough's aides-de-camp, and saved the duke's life at the battle of Ramillies, 23 May 1706. Different versions of the incident have been given, but the most authentic appears to be that Marlborough, seeing the allied left, on the open ground to the left of the village of Ramillies, was sore pressed, had ordered reinforcements to proceed thither from the right, and was himself personally leading up some squadrons of horse of the left wing which he had rallied with great difficulty, when he was unhorsed and ridden over by a body of Dutch cavalry retiring in disorder. His horse galloped away among the Dutch, and his aide-de-camp, Molesworth, seeing his chief in immediate danger of capture from the pursuing squadrons of French, put him on his own horse and persuaded him to ride away. In the ardour of the pursuit Molesworth was overlooked, and the French were presently brought up by the steady fire of Albemarle's Dutch-Swiss, under Colonel Constant. Molesworth recovered Marlborough's horse from a soldier, and found his chief in the village of Ramillies, issuing orders. Marlborough essayed to shift back to his own horse, when he was stunned by a roundshot, which took off the head of his principal aide-de-camp, Colonel Bringfield of Lumley's horse, who was holding his stirrup. The affair was carefully hushed up at the time.

Molesworth was appointed a captain and lieutenant-colonel in the Coldstream guards the year after, served in Flanders, and was blown up by a mine at the siege of Mons, but without receiving much injury. In 1710 he was appointed colonel of a regiment of foot, in succession to Colonel Moore, and went with it to Spain the year after. The regiment was disbanded at the peace of Utrecht. Molesworth was made lieutenant of the ordnance in Ireland, 11 Dec. 1714, and was returned as M.P. for Swords, co. Dublin. During the Jacobite rising of 1715 he raised a regiment of dragoons, with which he served, under General Carpenter, against the rebels in Lancashire. The regiment was disbanded, and on 19 March 1724 Molesworth was appointed colonel of the 27th Inniskilling foot. On 5 Oct. 1731 he succeeded to the title on the death of his elder brother, John, second viscount, ambassador in Tuscany and Sardinia [see under Molesworth, Robert, first Viscount]. On 31 May 1732 Molesworth succeeded General Crofts as colonel of the 9th dragoons (now lancers); on 26 Oct. 1733 was sworn of the Irish privy council; on 18 Dec. 1735 became a major-general; on 19 Dec. 1736 he was sworn one of the lords justices of Ireland succeeded General Wynne as colonel of the 5th royal Irish dragoons, 27 June 1737; became a lieutenant-general in Ireland in 1739, and master-general of the ordnance in Ireland in 1740; a lieutenant-general on the English establishment, 1 July 1742; a general of horse, 24 March 1746; commander-in-chief in Ireland in September 1751, and a field-marshal in 1757. He was governor of Kilmainham, and was admitted a member of the Royal Society 15 March 1721 (Thompson, App. iv. p. xxxv. He died 12 Oct. 1758, aged 78. A portrait of Molesworth was painted by Lee and engraved by Brooks.

Molesworth married, first, Jane, daughter of Mr. Lucas of Dublin (she died 1 April 1742, having had a son, who died an infant, and three daughters, and was buried at Swords); secondly, Mary, daughter of the Rev. William Usher, archdeacon of Clonfert, by whom he had one son, Richard Nassau, fourth viscount, and seven daughters. At his death, Molesworth's widow received a pension of 500l. a year, and seven of his unmarried daughters pensions of 70l. a year each. The second Lady Molesworth met with a tragic fate. She, her brother, Captain Usher (royal navy), two of her daughters, their governess, and four servants were burned in their beds by a fire originating in the nursery of her house in Upper Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, London, early in the morning of 7 May 1763. Captain Usher's servant, who had in the first instance escaped, gallantly went back to save his master, and perished. George III directed 200l. a year to be added to the family pension in consideration of their misfortune (Gent. Mag. 1763, p. 255).

[Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, vol. iii.; Burke's Peerage, under 'Molesworth;' 'Succession of Colonels,' in Cannon's Hist. Rec. 9th Lancers.]

H. M. C.