1786 -1867







John Molloy
Known early on as Handsome Jack,
the Aborigines called Molloy King Kandarung (long tailed goanna)



There are a lot of confusing 'facts' about John Molloy in various historical articles. Most of the controversy concerns the date of his birth, his parentage and his education. We have recently found information compiled by Molloy's descendants that contradicts just about everything we have read to date. The information in most historic texts is as follows:

John Molloy was born in London September 5th 1786. (One source quotes Molloy as being born in 1789 but we cannot find any other source that confirms this, most seem to quote 1780 but all these appear to be incorrect.) His background has until now been shrouded in mystery but research done by Rosemary Morgan of London Roots Research has now cleared away some of that doubt and mystery. It was thought that Molloy was the illegitimate son of someone very highly placed in British society. It was thought that his father may have been the Prince Frederick Duke of York - King George III's brother - second in line to the throne. Thanks to the research done by Rosemary Morgan it would now seem that Molloy was born on September 5th 1786.

Molloy was said to be educated at Oxford and received 200 pounds a year 'pocket money' and when the time came for him to make his way in the world, a commission was purchased for him in the navy for the huge sum of 20,000 pounds. When war with the French broke, out another commission was purchased for him in the army. He joined the 2nd battalion of the 95th rifles - an elite force. (This may all or partially false, please read on.)


The information from Molloy's descendants states that he was born on September 5th 1786 and was baptised on the 8th of October 1786. His parents are quoted as being William and Mary Molloy (nee Connor). Having seen and photographed John Molloy's tombstone myself I can state that it says he died on the 8th of October 1867 at the age of 87. Simple maths shows that on this information he should have been born in 1780 BUT there is credible evidence to show that Molloy may not have been 87 when he died. Confused? Yes so am I. History is both interesting to research and quite frustrating at times.

Molloy's descendants have also stated that he did not attend Oxford or get a commission purchased for him. See full details at

John Molloy
John Molloy



One source says that Molloy and his detachment were aboard HMS Brazen during the American War of Independence. If this is true then it is likely he initially met James Stirling at that time.

He fought with great bravery at the battle of Waterloo and was decorated for his services. One source states that Molloy was severely wounded during this battle.

From 1820 to 1824 he was stationed in Ireland which endured a series of riots and disturbances due to the terrible living conditions of the great majority of the Irish people at the time.

John (34) married Georgina Kennedy (24) in 1829

In 1830-1 Molloy - along with other settlers - chartered a ship (the Emily) and brought a party of settlers including the Turners and Bussells, to the Hardy Inlet from Perth.

Molloy was made Resident Magistrate which provided him with a steady income but also made it difficult for him to move away once the settlement started to decline.

Molloy's young wife, Georgina, was brought up in upper class English society and had no experience of cooking, cleaning, mending, milking cows and the other 'menial tasks' that she was now responsible for. The Bussells and Molloys were natural allies, as both families had the same background. The Turners were from the trade class and therefore not 'good enough' to mix socially with 'their betters'. Despite the fact that Turner was wealthy, in fact initially better off than the Bussells, he was never accepted as an equal.

In 1839 the Molloys finally had to abandon their dream and got no compensation for the loss of time and materials they had put in over the years.

As Resident Magistrate, Molloy had problems when he wanted to follow the Bussells north to Vasse. Governor John Hutt insisted initially that Molloy visit Augusta to carry out his duties at least once a quarter. This was then changed to twice a month before the Governor relented and put the visits back to once a quarter again.

Captain John Molloy and his wife finally abandoned Augusta and joined the Bussells building a property he called Fair Lawn near the Vasse River. Sadly his young wife (now only in her 30s) died in April 1843.

Captain Molloy later took time to return to England for a while. During his time there he visited his old Commander from the war days and the Duke of Wellington is reported to have received him warmly. Molloy also visited the now retired Governor Stirling before returning to Fair Lawn. Eventually Molloy was raised to the rank of Brevet Lieutenant Colonel. At the age of 87 (we now suspect he was 81) he died on October 6 1867. The headstone stated October 8th which again appears to be incorrect.

While the date of John's birth is now probably correct it is also interesting to note that when it came to naming features and streets in the new settlement of Augusta, Molloy chose names related to the Duke of York, who had died five years previously. These included Osnaburg Street, York Street, Albany Terrace, Duke's Head and Point Frederick. Was this the original source of the rumours about his parentage? Perhaps we will never know.

There seems to have been another John Molloy in Western Australia who led a much more humble existence.

My thanks to Sid Breeden for bringing my attention to the research done by Rosemary Morgan.


John Molloys grave
John Molloy's grave with what seems to be the wrong age at his time of death.




1876 - Born September 5th. (This now seems to be the correct date.)

1807 - Transferred from the navy to the army joining the 95th Regiment as a second lieutenant.

1809 - Fought in the Peninsular war and was promoted to lieutenant.

1815 - Fought and was wounded at the battle of Waterloo.

1819 - Posted to Glasgow.

1820 - Stationed in Ireland until 1824.

1824 - Promoted to captain.

1829 - Married Georgina Kennedy on August 6th.

1830 - Arrived at Fremantle aboard the Warrior in March.

1830 - Made a justice of the peace in April.

1830 - Co-founded the new settlement at Augusta in May. Became Government Resident and Resident magistrate.

1839 - Moved to Vasse.

1841 - After the murder of George Layman by a native called Gaywal, Molloy led a punitive raid against the Aborigines..

1843 - Georgina Molloy dies in April.

1850 - Visited London.

1852 - Returned to Western Australia.

1859 - Transferred to the 9th Foot and became a Major and Lieutenant-Colonel at which point he sold his commission.

1867 - Died on October 6th.


Links to more information:


Rosemary Morgan's Research Paper (PDF download)
Molloy, John (1780-1867)
John Molloy (Australian settler)




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