John Molloy

John Molloy, Born 5 September 1789, Died 6 October 1867.

Birth date

The headstone on the grave of John Molloy in the churchyard of St. Mary’s,
Busselton gives his age at his death in October 1867as 87, suggesting that he was born in 1780, always very unlikely given what is known of the date of his entry into the army after serving two years as a midshipman in the Royal Navy. His age at his death was given not by a family member but by William Layton, a carpenter employed at Fairlawn.

The soundest evidence of his true birth year is provided by the Harrow School Register which gives his age as 13 on his entry into the school in1802 thus making 1789 his year of birth. This is confirmed in the reminiscences of George Walpole Leake* who, writing about John Molloy in 1890, states that ‘he was born in 1789’.

*Battye Library


Further evidence that he was not born as early as 1780 can be found in the Will* of his father William Molloy. His son John and daughter Susannah were beneficiaries of his estate. The Will was written in 1804 and in it John and Susannah were stated to be under the age of twenty-one and therefore minors.

*Copy in the possession of Patrick Bunbury.


John Molloy was in his 39th year when he married the 24 year old Georgiana Kennedy in August 1829, thus making an agreeable and suitable match for her. He was not nearly twice her age as has been alleged.

It is not known how and where John Molloy met Georgiana but it is possible that it may have been through her elder sister Elizabeth Margaret. A letter written to him from Wroxeter in December 1828* but wrongly accredited to Georgiana by the authors of “Portrait with Background” and “An All Consuming Passion” was in fact written by Elizabeth. In the letter she claims him as ‘one of my greatest friends’

*Battye Library MN768 3278A/3.


The identity of the writer was quite obvious in the microfilm*of a hand written copy of the original in the Battye Library, both by the content of the letter and the signature being clearly EMK. The original letter was subsequently donated to the library and the handwriting is clearly not that of Georgiana. The letter suggests that Elizabeth Margaret and John Molloy were well acquainted. At the time of writing she was committed to marrying John Besly. Georgiana was living alternatively with the Dunlops and Storys** in Scotland when the letter was written and in a letter written at this time by Mrs. Kennedy*** she writes ‘Elizabeth is staying with friends in Wroxeter.’ In another letter dated 22nd October 1828 she writes ‘Georgiana is still in Scotland & as this place is not dashing enough for her – she is likely to remain’

* Microfilm – Battye Library 501A.
** Georgiana’s Journal – Battye Library
*** Cumbria Archives –


[Author: Patrick Richardson-Bunbury]

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