William Molesworth was born in London on 23 May 1810 and died there on 22 August 1855. He was the son of Sir Arscott-Ourry Molesworth and his wife Mary who was from an Edinburgh family. The Molesworth estate was in Pencarrow, near Bodmin in Cornwall, and had been in the family since the reign of Elizabeth I. The baronetcy had been created in 1688 and the family were consistently Whig or Liberal in their politics. At an early age William contracted scrofula, which left him permanently disfigured and for which he was teased when he went to boarding school, where care for his health was poor. Perhaps because of these unhappy childhood experiences he was something of a recluse through much of life until his marriage in 1844. After his father's death in 1823 he went with his mother and two sisters to live in Edinburgh, where his health, which now received more attention from his mother, improved. He entered the university there and was a student there for three years before transferring to St John's College, Cambridge and, after a year, to Trinity College. After a quarrel with his tutor he was expelled despite the fact that he had shown considerable mathematical promise. Molesworth challenged his tutor to a duel for which they were bound over to keep the peace by the mayor of Cambridge. A few months later the duel took place near Munich with the Marquis of Queensberry acting as his second. Although shots were exchanged neither was hit.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.