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Sir William Molesworth, 8th Baronet PC (23 May 1810 – 22 October 1855), was a British politician.


Molesworth was born in Londonmarker and succeeded to the baronetcy in 1823. He was educated privately before entering St John's College, Cambridgemarker as a fellow commoner. Moving to Trinity Collegemarker, he fought a duel with his tutor, and was sent down from the university. He also studied abroad and at Edinburgh University for some time.

Political career

On the passing of the Reform Act 1832 Molesworth was returned to Parliamentmarker for the Eastern division of Cornwall, to support the ministry of Lord Grey. Through Charles Buller he made the acquaintance of George Grote and James Mill, and in April 1835 he founded, in conjunction with Roebuck, the London Review, as an organ of the Philosophic Radicals. After the publication of two volumes he purchased the Westminster Review, and for some time the united magazines were edited by him and J. S. Mill.

From 1837 to 1841 Molesworth sat for Leeds, and acquired considerable influence in the House of Commons by his speeches and by his tact in presiding over the select committee on Penal transportation. But his Radicalism made little impression either on the house or on his constituency. In 1839 he commenced and carried to completion, at a cost of £6000, a reprint of the entire miscellaneous and voluminous writings of Thomas Hobbes, which were placed in most of the English university and provincial libraries. The publication did him great disservice in public life, his opponents endeavouring to identify him with the freethinking opinions of Thomas Hobbes in religion as well as with the philosopher's conclusions in favor of despotic government. From 1841 to 1845 he had no seat in parliament.

In 1845 Molesworth was returned for Southwark, and retained that seat until his death. On his return to parliament he devoted special attention to the condition of the colonies, and was the ardent champion of their self-government. In January 1853, Lord Aberdeen included him in the cabinet as First Commissioner of Works, the chief work by which his name was brought into prominence at this time being the construction of the new Westminster Bridgemarker; he also was the first to open Kew Gardenmarker on Sundays. In July 1855, he was made Colonial Secretary, and office he held until his death in October of the same year.

Personal life

Molesworth he died on 22 October 1855, aged 45. He is buried at Kensal Green Cemeterymarker, London.



Funerary monument, Kensal Green Cemetery, London

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