John Molloy, Lieutenant-Colonel

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John Molloy, Lieutenant-Colonel

Also Known As: "Captain John Molloy"
Birthdate: (87)
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Death: October 6, 1867 (87)
at his residence on the Vasse River, Vasse, Western Australia, Australia
Place of Burial: Busselton, WA, Australia
Immediate Family:

Son of William Molloy and Mary Molloy
Husband of Georgiana Molloy
Father of Elizabeth Mary Molloy; Sabina Dunlop Hale; Mary Dorothea du Cane; John Molloy; Amelia Georgianna Bunbury and 3 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About John Molloy, Lieutenant-Colonel

"Colonel Molloy, who was known throughout Western Australia as the grand old man of Busselton during the State's earliest pioneering days..."

Important note: With regard to issues of Colonel Molloy's age and parentage, I refer you to a site which has credible information with references, and has been contributed to by John Molloy's descendants, at

that is

"John Molloy : His parents Posted on March 14, 2011 by admin There has been some confusing historical information that has been published in a number of books and papers.

Contrary to a report in the Sunday Times of 22 May 1921, John Molloy did know his father and mother. They were William and Mary Molloy, nee Connor*. This information was passed to Mary DuCane nee Molloy by her sister Amelia.

  • Letter Edmund DuCane to Georgiana Bisdee, nee Hale.

Also, Nick Peacey (G-G-Grandson) advises: "John was almost certainly born on the 5th September 1786. He was baptised at St Martin in the Fields on the 8th October 1786 (parish register). Mary du Cane and Amelia has it right. His parents were William and John Molloy. This John Molloy did not go to Harrow School in 1802 as some have suggested: this was John William Molloy, son of AJP Molloy. The Harrow School Register was corrected in 1987. Hope this helps. Nick Peacey (great great grandson)" 12 January 2013

  • ***

Alexandra Hasluck in Georgiana Molloy; Portrait with Background, quoted an “not entirely reliable authority” that John Molloy never knew his parents and was the beneficiary of 200 pounds per year while at Oxford and that a cheque for 20,000 pounds was given to him along with the purchase of a commission in the Royal Navy.

There is no record of John Molloy ever being at Oxford (University)* and a cheque for 20,000 pounds seems a most unlikely amount in the year 1810.

  • Letter Oxford University to Patrick Bunbury. 3 August 1979.
    • **

Gossip had it that John Molloy was of royal parentage. Prince Frederick Augustus, Duke of York* the second son of King George III has been speculated on as having been his father. The Royal Archives at Windsor Castle** have an index of the names of illegitimate children of royalty and have no record of John Molloy. John Molloy’s features did remind those about him of some face very well-known but this remained elusive.**

  • ”Portrait with Background” by Alexandra Hasluck. Appendix C.
    • Letter Royal Archives to T. Woodcock, Esq., The College of Arms, 18 October 1983. Copy in possession of Patrick Bunbury.
      • * “Portrait with Background” by Alexandra Hasluck. Chapter 1

A letter from The College of Arms* raises an interesting point about the possibility that John Molloy might have been a grandson from the* *alleged marriage of the Prince of Wales, later King George III, to Hannah Lightfoot in1759. There were said to have been three children from this marriage. Hannah’s father** was a shoemaker in Wapping as was ***William Molloy.

(King George III later married Sophia Charlotte, daughter of The Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761).

  • Letter College of Arms to Patrick Bunbury. 26 October 1983.
    • Britain’s Royal Families. Alison Weir. Page 286, Pimlico edition 1996.
      • Letter College of Arms to Patrick Bunbury. 26 October 1983.

Schooling The College of Arms also stated that Harrow School at the time catered for the sons of successful tradesmen as William Molloy was stated to be. [See Nick Peacey's advice above, that the Harrow Register has been amended]

  • ***

[Author: Patrick Richardson-Bunbury]

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment John Molloy Posted on March 14, 2011 by admin 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’. [See Nick Peacey's advice above, that the Harrow Register has been amended to show it was NOT this John Molloy].

  • 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]"

Death Notice published in "The Perth Gazette and West Australian Times" Friday 18 October 1867:

"MOLLOY.-On the 6th inst., at his residence, on the Vasse River, Western Australia, at the age of 87, LIEUT.-COLONEL JOHN MOLLOY, late of the Rifle Brigade."

However, a far more interesting description of the man and his life can be found published in the "Western Mail" of Thursday 12 August 1920:

"OLD TIME MEMORIES, (By Hugh Kalyptus.)


"An admirer of Colonel Molloy, who was known throughout Western Australia as the grand old man of Busselton during the State's earliest pioneering days, has fur- nished the following interesting particulars of that distinguished soldier's eventful career :—

"Colonel John Molloy, of the 95th Foot, the first Government Resident of Augusta who was then residing at the Vasse, was the son of a naval officer. He went through the Peninsular war, and fought in the battles of Rolica, Vinuera, Sala- manca, Vittoria, the Pyrenees, Nivalle, Toulouse, and Waterloo. In the battle of Waterloo he was wounded and left for dead, all night, upon the field. He had a medal with eight clasps. He was pre- sent at the famous ball that was given by the Duchess of Richmond on the eve of the battle of Waterloo. Captain Molloy was induced to come to Western Austra-lia by Sir Harry Smith, a brother officer, who was a great friend of Sir James Stir- ling, the first Governor of Western Aus- tralia, which was then known as the Swan River Settlement. Captain Molloy mar- ried Georgiana Kennedy, of Crosbie Lodge, near Carlisle, Cumberland, and had a family of six children, one son and five daughters. His son was accidentally drowned by falling down a well. The daughters married as follows :-Sabina, to Bishop Sale, the first Bishop of Perth ; Mary, to Lieut. Edmond Du Cane, after- wards Sir Edmund Du Cane, Commissioner of Prisons in England; Amelia, to William Richardson Bunbury, of Beechlands, Vasse; Flora, to William Brockman, of Gingin. Georgiana died unmarried; she was engaged to Frederick Kennedy Panter, who was a nephew of Governor Arthur Edward Kennedy. Soon after his engage- ment, Mr. Panter, in company with Messrs. Harding and Goldwire, went on an ex- pedition to the North-West. All three were murdered by the natives at Le Grange Bay. All Colonel Molloy's daugh-ters arc now dead.

"In October, 1829 Colonel Molloy, with his young wife, left England in the War- rior. On the passage out he and the Bus- sell brothers resolved to keep together. By the advice of the Governor they decid- ed to take up land at Augusta, where they landed in 1830 from a small coasting vessel that was commanded by Captain Daniel Scott. Here the gallant old Colonel took up land at Blackwood, where he re- mained for some years, suffering many privations. Colonel Molloy then, with the approval of the Govern- ment; moved to the Vasse, taking up 12,000 acres of land on the left bank of the Vasse River, the Bussells selecting on the right bank. Mrs. Molloy was an enthusiastic botanist, and during the hard- ships of her life in Western Australia her garden was her one recreation. She gath- ered many of the seeds and flowers of the native plants, seeding them home to Sir William Hooker (afterwards Curator of Kew Gardens), and other well-known bo- tiatists. Mrs. Molloy died at Fairlawn, when her eldest daughter was only eleven years old. She was buried in the pretty old Busselton cemetery which surrounds the church, that was built by the Bussell brothers. Colonel Molloy, even when he was advanced in years, was a strikingly handsome man, full of interesting anec- dotes of his old Peninsular days. He was held in the highest respect by all who knew him. He kept open house for all his companions. He was very fond of dancing, and attended most of the balls in the district. It was amusing to see the old Colonel counting the steps as he went through the quadrilles. He was a Bri- tisher to his finger tips and therefore, was a good magistrate. He gave satisfaction to all concerned in the administration of justice. The last public function at which lie was present was an agricultural din- ner, at which Governor Weld, Captain Gor- don Douglas, and the other officers off H.M.S. Cossack were in attendance. The old Colonel wore his uniform, with all his medals. There was a large gathering from, the country and adjoining districts. Mr John Bussell (Lady Hackett's progenitor) was in the chair. When the Colonel's health was proposed, there was tremendous cheer- ing, and on standing up to return thanks he brought down the house by asking, "What are you all cheering about " Col- onel Molloy then briefly thanked them for the way in which they had received the toast of his health. The fine old English gentleman was promoted to the rank of colonel shortly after his arrival at the Vasse. He died at Fairlawn, on October 6, 1867, at the age of 87, after a short ill- ness, and was buried at Busselton. His funeral was very largely attended. When the gallant old Colonel was deposited in his last resting place there were many moist eyes around the graveside, as he was beloved by all classes of the community. The Rev. W. H. Brown, who had known him for many years, completely broke down, and it was some time before he could continue the burial service. Fair- lawn was purchased by Mr. Richard Gale J.P., of the Vasse, who landed at Freman- tle from Dorsetshire in the year 1857.

"Colonel Molloy retired from the service of the Government abut the beginning of 1861, and was succeeded by Mr. Joseph Strelly Harris, who was another worthy representative of the boys of the bulldog breed. "

Published in "The Perth Gazette and Western Australia Journal" of Saturday 2 November 1844:

"Colonial Secretary's Office, Perth, "October 23, 1844. "His Excellency the Governor is pleased to direct it to be notified, that the following allotments on the town-site of Augusta have reverted to the Crown on account of non-performance of the conditions of assign-ment ; "No. 1 Elijah Dawson. 2 James Staples 5 Thos. N. Robinson 6 John Williams 20 Daniel Syred 24 J. W. Turner 41 Henry Kellam 44 J. Cooke & G. Layman 49 James McDermott 52 Alex. Dewar 59 Alfred Green Sub. D Thomas Turner " E George Turner « T Elijah Dawson « U John Molloy " V Georgiana Molloy "By His Excellency's command; PETER BROUN."

The outline of John Molloy's birth and early life are now clear, though we have little detail and published accounts vary greatly. John Molloy was baptised at St Martins in the Fields in Trafalgar Square, London, on 8 October 1786, the son of William and Mary Molloy.[1] As John celebrated his birthday on the 5 September in later life, his birthdate is most likely to have been the 5 September 1786.

William Molloy had a shoe warehouse at 16 High St, St Giles, London. He made his will in 1804, leaving bequests to his son, John, and his daughter, Susanna, who were to inherit their shares of the estate when they reached the age of 21.[2] The will also stipulates regular payments from the estate to William Molloy's mother who was living in Kings County, now co. Offaly, Ireland. St Giles was well known as a quarter where Irish tradesmen settled. William Molloy died in December 1804.

John Molloy was able to buy a commission in the Rifle Brigade on 17 December 1807, just over three months after his 21st birthday, when he came into his inheritance. He fought in the Peninsular War of 1808–10 and was promoted First Lieutenant in 1809. Then, during a two-year break in military engagements, he attended Great Marlow military college. From 1812 to 1814, he fought in the Napoleonic Wars under Wellington, taking part in eight battles. In 1815 he fought at Waterloo where he was badly wounded and received the Waterloo Medal. After recovering his health, he returned to active duty, being posted to Glasgow in 1819–20, then Ireland until 1825. In 1824 he was promoted to Captain.

On 6 August 1829, Molloy married Georgiana Kennedy, and began to consider emigrating to Western Australia. The Molloys eventually sailed for Western Australia on board the Warrior in October 1829. On arriving at the Swan River Colony in March 1830, Molloy was advised by Governor Stirling that the best land in the area had already been granted. Stirling suggested instead that the Molloys join with some other newly arrived settlers in forming a subcolony in the vicinity of Cape Leeuwin. Late in April, a group of prospective settlers including the Molloys and Bussells accompanied Stirling and his official party to the proposed site of the subcolony. After a four-day exploring expedition up the Blackwood River, Stirling confirmed his decision to establish a settlement at the location. The settlers' possessions were unloaded, and Molloy was appointed Government Resident and Resident magistrate for the settlement, to be called Augusta.

For the first few years of the settlement, Molloy's main tasks, other than establishment of his own farm, were the allocation of land, and laying out of the townsite. When Molloy named the streets and coastal features of Augusta in 1832, it is notable that he chose the names and titles of the Duke of York, who had died five years previously: Osnaburg Street, York Street, Albany Terrace, Duke's Head and Point Frederick.

Initial relationships with the Aborigines of the area (the Bibbulmun and Wardandi peoples) were friendly, but the relationship soured over the years, as the settlers further encroached on the natives' traditional lands and the natives increasingly stole from the settlers. By the mid-1830s, natives and settlers had become hostile to one another. In 1837 nine natives were shot in response to the killing of a settler's calf. Molloy, who valued protection of the settlers' property over protection of the natives' lives, took no action in this case. On the other hand, when a settler named George Layman was murdered by a native named Gaywal in February 1841, Molloy led a punitive party against him. Gaywal was ultimately shot dead while trying to escape. In March 1842, Charles Bussell shot a seven-year-old Aboriginal girl in the stomach while interrogating her about the location of some fugitives. Molloy reported the shooting as an accident. After charging Bussell and finding him guilty, Molloy is said to have fined him just one shilling.

Molloy's wife died in 1843, but Molloy decided to stay on at the settlement. In 1850, he visited England, returning to Western Australia in 1852. In 1859 he transferred to the 9th Foot and was promoted Major and Lieutenant-Colonel, but sold the commission the same day. He resigned as Government Resident in March 1851 on grounds of old age. From 1860 on, he gradually turned over management of his property to Richard Gale. He died on 6 October 1867, and was buried alongside his wife. The age given on Molloy’s grave, 87, is inaccurate: it should be 81.[4]

John Molloy's eldest daughter Sabina married Matthew Blagden Hale, who became the first Anglican Bishop of Perth. Another daughter Flora married William Locke Brockman.

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John Molloy, Lieutenant-Colonel's Timeline

September 5, 1780
London, United Kingdom
October 8, 1786
Age 6
London, Greater London, United Kingdom
Age 49
Augusta, Western Australia
July 11, 1831
Age 50
Vasse, Western Australia
Age 53
Vasse, Western Australia
Age 55
Vasse, Western Australia
January 6, 1838
Age 57
Vasse, Western Australia
May 8, 1840
Age 59
Vasse, Western Australia, Australia
October 6, 1867
Age 87
Vasse, Western Australia, Australia