The collection is arranged as follows:
* 920 SEF/1 Diaries of Henry Hervey Molyneux (1842-1915), 48 volumes, 1870-1915
* 920 SEF/2 Diaries of Charles William Hylton Molyneux ("Mull") (1867-1901) 5th Earl of Sefton, 3 volumes, 1888, 1889, 1894
* 920 SEF/3 Diaries of Lady Rose Molyneux (1870-1905), 3 volumes, 1886, 1888, 1889
* 920 SEF/4 Diaries of Lady Helena Mary Molyneux, Countess of Sefton (1875-1947), 49 volumes, 1898-1917, 1919-1947
* 920 SEF/5 Travel Diaries and albums etc. of Lady Helena Mary Molyneux, Countess of Sefton, 52 volumes, 1898-1917, 1919-1947
* 920 SEF/6 Diaries of Sir Frederick Molyneux (1873-1954), 37 volumes, 1891-1900, 1901, 1918-1922, 1925-1953 920 SEF/7 Game Books, records of shooting, coursing etc, 17 volumes, 1815-1945
* 920 SEF/8 Records relating to the household, 23 bundles, 3 volumes, 1841-1843, 1867-1897
* 920 SEF/9 Photographs, drawings etc, 12 volumes, 2 bundles, 7 items, 19th, 20th centuries
* 920 SEF/10 Miscellanous papers, 14 items, 1818-1945
The bulk of the Sefton's "estate papers" are deposited in the Lancashire Record Office in Preston. These include manorial records, title deeds, estate papers, appointments, settlements and wills etc, legal, business and official papers, plans, rentals and acconts in the periof 14th - 19th centuries. Further details of these holdings are given in R. Shrarpe France in 'Guide to the Lancashire Record Office' (1985) under 'Molyneux, Earls of Sefton (DDM)' on pp.243-247.
The following printed works give further details of the family and of Croxteth Hall. Additional works are listed in the Local History Catalogue under 'Molyneux family'.
* J.J. Bagley, 'Molyneux family' in 'History of Lancashire' (6th Edition, 1976), pp.47-49
* Burke's, 'Peerage and Boronetage', (105th edition, 1970), pp. 2397-2398 gives a genealogical history of the Molyneux family Earls of Sefton. See also earlier editions of Burke's 'Peerage and Baronetage' through 20th and 19th centuries
* G. Chandler, 'Liverpool' (1957). See index under 'Molyneux family; Sefton, Earls of and 'Croxteth Hall' - W. Farrer and J. Brownbill, 'Victoria History if the County of Lancaser, Volume 3' (1907), pp.15, 16, 67-73
* P. Fleetwood-Hesketh, 'Murray's Lancashire Architectural Guide' (1955), p.49 - J. Foster, 'Pedigree of Molyneux, Earls of Sefton' in 'Pedigrees of the County Families of England, Volume 1, Lancashire' (1873), p.209
* Liverpool Heritage Bureau, 'Buildings of Liverpool' (1978), pp.258-263
* J. Lofthouse, 'Molyneux, Earls of Sefton' in 'Lancashire's Old Families' (1972), pp.61-69
* J. Ramsay Muir, 'A History of Liverpool' (1907). See index under 'Molyneux family' and 'Sefton, Earls of'
* N. Pevsner, 'Buildings of Enland: South Lancashire' (1979 repr.), pp.216-217
* J.A. Picton, 'Memorials of Liverpool, Volumes 1 and 2' (1903). See under index 'Molyneux' and 'Sefton, Earls of
* Undated typescript notes in biographical newspapers cuttings, under Sefton family
|Immediate source of acquisition:
The majority of the records were deposited by the Countess of Sefton, widow of Hugh, 7th Earl of Sefton, in February 1973 (Acc. 2547). Some of the records (Acc. 2547) were purchased from the Friends of Croxteth Hall in July 2002 (refs: 920 SEF/5/1C, 920 SEF/5/2B, 920 SEF/2/15, 920 SEF/7/15, 920 SEF/7/16, 920 SEF/7/17, 920 SEF/9/19, 920 SEF/9/20, and 920 SEF/9/21).
|Administrative / biographical background:
In or around the year 1100 the manor of Sefton was granted by Roger of Politou to a member of the Molyneux family, probably Robert de Molyneux. Croxteth came into the possession of the Molyneux family in the 15th century and Toxteth Park in the early part of the 17th century. The family acquired its first hereditary title in 1611 when Sir Richard Molyneux was elevated to the new rank of baronet. His son, also Sir Richard, became Viscount Molyneux of Maryborough in 1628. Charles (1748-1795), the 8th Viscount Molyneux, was created 1st Earl of Sefton in 1771, in the peerage of Ireland. In 1831 William (1772-1838), 2nd Earl of Sefton was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Sefton of Croxteth. Hugh, 7th Earl of Sefton, died in April 1972 without heirs and the title became extinct.
Early hereditary title granted to the family included the offices of Constable of Liverpool Castle and master forester of the forests and park of West Derby. Details of the family's involvement in the history of Liverpool and Lancashire may be found in a number of the printed works listed below.
Croxteth Hall in Croxteth Park, West Derby, the family seat, was acquired by the Molyneux family during the reign of Henry VI (1422-1461) and by 1540 it had become one of the family's chief residences. The Hall appears to have enlarged or rebuilt c.1575-1600 but at that time was still probably a small and unelaborate building. In 1702, William, second Viscount Molyneux, added the principal and "...spectacular west front...of an unusual Queen Anne design..." to the Hall "...marking the time when Croxteth Hall became the main family seat" (see 'Buildings of Liverpool', p.259). The sporting interests of the Molyneux family are reflected in many of the diaries and papers in this collection. On the death of the last Earl of Sefton in 1972, Croxteth Hall and Park were given to the City of Liverpool. Croxteth Hall is open to the public in the summer months and the Country Park is open all year.
In the later part of the 19th century, the Earl of Sefton "...gave up his Scottish grouse shoots and bought extensive moors...above Over Wyresdale..." (see Lofthouse, p.69) between the Forest of Bowland and Lancaster. This large estate was centred on Abbeystead where the house "...was built some years ago by the Earl of Sefton as a shooting lodge. He ... erected a handsome residence overlooking the Abbeystead compensation reservoir. Here shooting parties were gathered during the season and excellent sport was provided..." (see obituary of Lady Rose Molyneux in 'Liverpool Obituary Notices', 1905, Vol.23, p. 166, Eq 330). The cottages in the small village of Abbeystead were rebuilt, also some of the decayed farmhouses of the estate. Since the death of the widow of the last Earl of Sefton, the estate has been owned by the Duke of Westminster.
For many years the London home of the family was Sefton House in Belgrave Square. In Liverpool in the late 18th, early 19th centuries, the Molyneux had owned "...and imposing house on the north side of Lord Street, built in 1789" (see undated typescript notes, listed below). This building became business premises, as Commerce House and was destroyed in the May blitz of 1941. Burke's Peerage over the years lists other homes of the Molyneux family.