Molyneux (Molinel), Thomas (1531–97), administrator, was born in Calais, France, a member of the English community there; nothing more is known of his parents. An only child, he was orphaned at an early age and reared by John Brishin, an alderman of Calais. Following the surrender of the town to the French on 7 January 1558, Molyneux was imprisoned, being released on the payment of a ransom of 500 crowns. He then moved to Bruges, where he married Catherine, daughter of Ludowick Stabeort, a wealthy burgomaster. Persecuted for his protestant beliefs by the catholic authorities, he moved to London (1568), before settling in Ireland (1576). At this time, the archbishop of Dublin, Adam Loftus (qv), sought to encourage protestant refugees from continental Europe to settle in Ireland, and in May 1578 he authorised Molyneux to establish a colony of these refugees at Swords, north Co. Dublin. Molyneux also rented land from Loftus at Tallaght, west Co. Dublin.
He became heavily involved in the royal administration in Ireland and by March 1581 was serving as general surveyor of the victuals of the Irish army. As such he was answerable to Edward Waterhouse (qv), who oversaw the provisioning of the Irish army. He also served as deputy to Waterhouse in his capacity as collector of the royal impost levied on wine imported into Ireland. However, during 1582–3 Waterhouse came in for severe criticism from his superiors in London and colleagues in Dublin for alleged corruption. Molyneux was implicated in these attacks and by the end of 1583 had been removed as general surveyor of the army victuals. Nonetheless both he and Waterhouse eventually weathered these squalls, and he went on to succeed his patron both as chancellor of the exchequer (19 October 1590) and as collector of the wine impost (24 November 1591). The latter post was particularly lucrative, and according to his accounts £5,230 in levies passed through his hands during 1592–4. His success evidently bred jealousy, which led to an accusation that his employment in Ireland was illegal because of his status as an alien. However, in 1594 an inquiry found that he was born in Calais while the town was under English rule and was therefore an English subject. In September 1595 he received a grant of the Dublin customs farm. He is said to have been generous in dispensing hospitality to his friends and relatives and as a result left a relatively modest inheritance to his family. He died in Dublin on 24 January 1597, and was buried in Christ Church cathedral, Dublin.
He and his wife had two sons – Samuel (1625), who became surveyor general of the works in Ireland, and Daniel (qv), who became Ulster king-at-arms – and two daughters, Katherine and Margaret.