Royal Armouries

Samuel Molyneux’s Letter about his visit to the Tower

Images

a page of italic text from a letter

A page from a letter from Samuel Molyneux, 1712 © Southampton City Council

  • a page of italic text from a letter

    A page from a letter from Samuel Molyneux, 1712 © Southampton City Council

  • colour photo of a giant armour and a boy's armour

    Overall view of the 'Giant' and boy's armours. (II.22 & II.126)

  • a page of italic text from a letter

    A page from a letter from Samuel Molyneux, 1712 © Southampton City Council

Samuel Molyneux’s Letter about his visit to the Tower

Description

Samuel Molyneux (1689-1728) was a highly educated young man interested in the intellectual life of early eighteenth century London. He was principal secretary to the Prince of Wales (later King George II) between 1714 and 1727. He also represented constituencies in both the English and Irish parliaments and was an Irish Privy Councillor. He was a notable astronomer, who had an observatory at his house in Kew and undertook research into the improvement of optical instruments with John Bradley, Savilian Professor of Science at the University of Oxford.

In 1712-13 he wrote a series of letters to his uncle Thomas Molyneux of Dublin. Parts of these survive, giving an account which takes a different perspective from more popular accounts by visitors to the Tower of London and its attractions, showing distaste for the modern weaponry and a preference for the contents of the Horse Armoury:

‘…on the Ground Floor which is about two hundred yards long you have the heavy artillery … but when you go up Stairs you have on the Second floor as large a room and in it a most beautifully dispos’d armoury for above 70 thousand men … It was impossible however for a man of good nature & benevolence to walk with Pleasure in this Repository of Death & Destruction …
... From hence we were carry’d to another much more peaceable and harmless Armory, and indeed I think very near as Ornamental, this they call their horse Armory, it consists entirely of horse Furniture formerly us’d and Suits of Armor of which I think they reckon about 200, many of which they shew you formerly us’d by several of Our Kings, some of which are neatly inlay’d and some gilt, they showed us one compleat Suit which was above 7 feet long formerly as they call’d it John of Gaunts Duke of Lancasters….they show you here also an old Sword said to be the very one taken from a French General by Conreye Lord Kinsale…’.

Molyneux collapsed at the House of Commons in March 1728 and died on 13 April. He had been attended by Nathaniel St Andre, who was alleged to have administered an overdose of opium. St André subsequently eloped with and married Molyneux’s widow, Elizabeth, who had inherited her late husband’s property.

Related Objects

The Foreigner’s Guide and the Horse Armory, 1729 Click on the title link above to find out more.

Field Armour, the 'Giant' Armour Click on the title link above to find out more.

Dates from 1540 | Object number: II.22

Themes Menu

Line of Kings