MANNINGHAM, Thomas (c. 1649-1722)

MANNINGHAM, Thomas (c. 1649–1722)

cons. 13 Nov. 1709 bp. of CHICHESTER

First sat 1 Dec. 1709; last sat 9 Nov. 1721

b. c.1649, s. Richard Manningham (d.1682), rect. Michelmersh, Hants and Bridget Blackwell. educ. Winchester Coll. 1661-9; New Coll. Oxf. matric. 12 Aug. 1669, fell. 1671-81, BA 1673, MA 1677; Lambeth DD 1691. m. bef. 1683 Elizabeth (surname unknown) (1657-1714), 4s. 2da. 4 o. ch.1 d. 25 Aug. 1722; will 6 Aug., pr. 4 Sept. 1722.2

Chap. in ordinary, Charles II 1684-5, William III and Mary II 1689-94, William III 1694-1702;3 commr. charitable collection for Vaudois Protestants 1699,4 Q. Anne’s Bounty bef. 1710.5

Rect. E. Tisted, Hants 1681, St Andrew’s, Holborn 1691-1713, Great Haseley, Oxon. 1708; preacher, Chapel of the Rolls, 1684; chap. to Speaker, House of Commons 1690-4; lecturer, Temple Church 1691; canon, Windsor 1693-1709; dean, Windsor 26 Feb.-3 Dec. 1709.

Mbr. SPG 1701.6

Thomas Manningham was born in Southwark, the son of a clergyman who owed his benefice to his maternal uncle Walter Curl, bishop of Winchester. His grandfather was the diarist, John Manningham.7 As a fellow of New College, Oxford, Thomas Manningham acquired a reputation as a ‘wit’ and was involved in two failed elections for the place as orator at Oxford University.8 His first cure was as rector of the wealthy living of East Tisted in Hampshire in 1681, where the advowson was owned by Sir John Norton.9 He quickly found favour with Charles II who in 1684 appointed him a chaplain in ordinary and promised him a prebend at Winchester. When that failed to materialize, Manningham replaced Gilbert Burnet, later bishop of Salisbury, as preacher at the Rolls Chapel after the Scotsman had made a controversial sermon.10 There is some evidence that Manningham may have continued as a chaplain to James II after 1685. In any case, his career took off after the Revolution. From early in the reign he was a chaplain in ordinary to the new monarchs William and Mary. Manningham was, in 1690, appointed by Sir John Trevoras chaplain to the Speaker of the Commons and in 1691 obtained the prestigious living of St Andrew’s Holborn, where the advowson was held by Ralph Montagu, earl (later duke) of Montagu. Manningham proved highly popular with the Commons, and as early as 23 May 1690 they addressed the king in support of Manningham’s preferment to the next vacancy in the chapter of Windsor or Westminster, a request which they had to repeat for the next two sessions, on 3 Jan. and 19 Dec. 1691. Manningham was not installed as a canon of Windsor until 28 Jan. 1693.11

During the reign of Anne his sermons and his publication on ‘true mirth’ put him increasingly in the public eye. By 1705 he was included in gatherings of senior churchmen at Lambeth as well.12 In 1708 he became rector of Great Haseley, Oxfordshire and on 26 Feb. 1709 he was installed as dean of Windsor.13 A further sign of the royal, and ministerial favour he enjoyed at that time came on 14 Mar. 1709, when the secretary of state Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, introduced to the House, by royal command, Manningham’s petition for permission to bring in a bill to annex the rectory of Haseley in Oxfordshire to the deanery of Windsor and to vest the perpetual advowson of the rectory of North Berkhamstead in Hertfordshire in the dean and chapter of Windsor. The petition was not even referred to the judges, but read and agreed to immediately. The bill itself quickly went through both Houses and received the royal assent on 21 April.14

The death of John Williams, bishop of Chichester, on 24 Apr. 1709 had the potential to plunge the Church into another crisis similar to the ‘bishoprics crisis’ which had followed the vacancies of the sees of Exeter and Chester. At this point, by the spring of 1709, Anne’s ministry was dominated and controlled by the Whigs, which gave hope to Edmund Gibson, then precentor of the chapter of Chichester (and later bishop of London), that the new bishop would be, as he termed it to William Wake,bishop of Lincoln, in a letter of 7 May 1709, one of ‘our friends’. The inexplicable delay in nominating a successor made Gibson worry ‘that the second part of Exeter and Chester was going on’ and that the queen was unlikely to nominate a Whig to the chapter. The Whig peers Sunderland, Charles Seymour, 6th duke of Somerset and William Cowper, Baron Cowper had first promoted the candidacy of Dr Thomas Hayley, dean of Chichester, but after finding that he was crippled, they turned their attention, together with Thomas Tenison, archbishop of Canterbury, to the dean of Lincoln, Richard Willis, the future bishop of Gloucester. Gibson fretted that by all he could see, Willis ‘will not go down at court’ and ‘that our friends are not to be gratified in the bishopric’. The Whigs insisted that ‘they would stand by the dean of Lincoln’, but Tenison also suggested the translation of the Whig, William Fleetwood, who had been consecrated bishop of St Asaph as recently as 6 June 1708. By early July the queen instead had fixed on John Robinson, at that time chaplain to the British embassy and envoy extraordinary at the Swedish court (and later bishop of London). Robinson had been outside of the bear pit of domestic British politics for many years, and was unwilling to take on such an onerous office. The queen then turned to Manningham, and decided to move him on to Chichester while placing Robinson in his former post as dean of Windsor. These appointments, including the detail that Manningham was to continue to hold the rectory of St Andrews Holborn in commendam for three years, were well known to Gibson and newsletter writers in the first week of August. Manningham was clearly acceptable to the queen and does not appear to have been wholly offensive to the Whigs. Gibson, while lamenting the ineffectiveness of the Whig ministers in procuring the desired ecclesiastical appointments, still assured Wake that Manningham would be ‘no doubt to the great honour of this church and diocese’ and Manningham himself professed deep friendship and admiration for Wake, at least when he wrote to him apologizing for not inviting him to his consecration on 13 Nov. 1709, apparently because Wake was suffering from smallpox at the time. After his consecration Manningham was formally introduced to the queen by Sunderland when he went to pay homage for his bishopric.15

Manningham did not take his seat in the House until 1 Dec. 1709, when he was introduced by Nathaniel Crew, bishop of Durham and Charles Trimnell, bishop of Norwich. He attended 60 per cent of the sittings of this session of 1709-10, and was present on 27 Feb. 1710 when the impeachment proceedings against Sacheverell opened in Westminster Hall. The following day Manningham was ordered by the House to preach the sermon for the day appointed by the queen for a general fast, 15 Mar. 1710. This sermon, at which Wake records his attendance, proved contentious. Manningham chose as his theme the dignity of the clergy and the decline in their material and career fortunes, and advocated a restoration to the Church of abbey lands. This may have been meant as a piece of hyperbole in order to poke fun at Sacheverell’s own exaggerated claims, but nevertheless in the debate the following day, 16 Mar. 1710, when the discussion on the first article of impeachment was reckoned ‘the longest in living memory’, Manningham came under attack from John Campbell, 2nd duke of Argyll [S] (who sat as earl of Greenwich). Argyll accused churchmen of meddling in politics and referred to Manningham’s fast sermon. During Argyll’s attack, a bewildered Manningham asked Gilbert Burnet to whom Argyll was referring. Burnet responded, patting Manningham indulgently on the head, ‘who should it be, but thou child’. Manningham, nevertheless, ‘stole away’ from the chamber before the end of the twelve-hour debate and the vote that the Commons had made good the first article.16 Manningham similarly, and more controversially, absented himself on 20 Mar. 1710 for the final vote on Sacheverell’s guilt, although he was marked as present at the trial itself that day. This abstention upset the Whigs and the ministry, who appear to have been counting on his vote. A correspondent of Wake commented on the ‘scandalous story ... why the bishop of Chichester went out of the House, and would not vote on either side’ while John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, upon seeing a division list of the vote expressed his surprise that Manningham, along with eight lay peers, ‘were influenced to be for Sacheverell’ as ‘I should have thought all these would have been on the other side’.17

Marlborough’s comment suggests that Manningham’s political position remained indeterminate. Certainly, in early October 1710 Robert Harley, later earl of Oxford, could only list the bishop as a ‘court Whig’ or even a ‘doubtful’ supporter of the new ministry. Manningham was present on 25 Nov. for the first day of the new session and attended just over one third of the sittings. As there is little evidence of his activity in the House, it is difficult to gauge the accuracy of Harley’s analysis. In any case Manningham left the House for the session on 18 May 1711, though Ralph Bridges appears to have misidentified him as one of the three bishops – the other two, Fleetwood and Trimnell, being Whigs – who left the chamber on 31 May in protest at the third reading of the bill to provide funds for the act for building 50 new churches in London.18 Manningham may have been more engaged in extra-parliamentary bodies at this point. On 29 Dec. 1710 he attended a meeting at Whitehall of the commissioners for Queen Anne’s bounty.19 He was also active in Convocation and on 14 Mar. 1711 was appointed to a committee of 13 bishops to consider the controversial heresy case of Cambridge academic William Whiston. Manningham banned Whiston from attending communion at St Andrew, Holborn for more than a year, which led to several angry petitions from Whiston to Tenison.20 Manningham was also concerned with diocesan business and in June 1711 was exercised by the compromised and indebted position of one of his curates.21 There are suggestions that Tenison and other of his ecclesiastical colleagues may not have been fully satisfied with Manningham’s administration of his see. In August 1711 the archbishop asked John Evans, bishop of Bangor, to conduct confirmations while he was on a visit to Chichester. Manningham, perceiving Tenison’s request as a public slight, became ‘much out of humour’ and insisted that he had been conducting confirmations himself on the very day of Evans’s visit.22 Later, in February 1712, William Nicolson, bishop of Carlisle, was regaled by Richard Bowchier, an archdeacon in Chichester diocese, with reports of ‘the bishop’s blunders’.23

Manningham attended 27 per cent of the sittings of the session of 1711-12. He was present on its first day, 7 Dec. 1711, and the following day protested against the resolution to present to the queen the address of thanks with the inclusion of ‘No Peace without Spain’ clause. On 20 Dec. he voted in favour of the motion to disable James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton, from sitting in the House under his British title of duke of Brandon. Manningham was present in the House on 2 Jan. 1712, immediately following the introduction in the House of 12 new Tory peers. On the ministry’s motion for an adjournment for a further two weeks he was one of only four bishops (with Thomas Sprat, bishop of Rochester, William Dawes, bishop of Chester and Philip Bisse, bishop of St Davids) who voted in favour of the motion, in contrast to the 11 bishops who sided with the Whigs against it.24 Manningham absented himself from the House for a long period from 16 Feb., and on 26 Feb. he registered his proxy with Philip Bisse. This was vacated upon his return to the House on 13 May. In early June Oxford (as Harley had become) once again listed Manningham as an uncertain or doubtful supporter of the ministry, an uncertainty most likely caused by the bishop’s low attendance in the House. Indeed, Manningham left the House on 7 June and again registered his proxy with Bisse four days later, who held it until the prorogation on 8 July.

By March 1713 Jonathan Swift could list Manningham as one of those now expected to support the ministry. On 9 Apr. he attended the new session on its first day and attended 21 per cent of sittings. As in the previous session he may have delegated his vote to proxies during his periods of absence, but this cannot be confirmed as the proxy register for this session is missing. Despite his haphazard attendance, he featured in the voting calculations of the ministry during this contentious session in which the details of the peace of Utrecht were hotly debated. At the end of May Swift listed him as a possible opponent of the French commercial treaty, or one who should be lobbied to support it, and in June, when it appeared that the bill might come before the House, Oxford placed Manningham among its supporters. The bill never did come before the House, and in any case Manningham left the House for that session on 16 June. He probably left to conduct his diocesan visitation of that summer, and to oversee the marriage of one of his sons to the daughter of a local Surrey gentleman.25 He may also have retreated to his diocese to be present for the elections for the borough of Chichester which followed the dissolution of 8 Aug., but there is little or no indication of any involvement of the ‘cathedral interest’ in the election which returned two Tories to Parliament – despite the concerns of the whiggish chapter precentor, Edmund Gibson.26

Manningham arrived in the House on 18 Feb. 1714, the third day of actual business of the new Parliament, and went on to attend only one fifth of its sittings. On 5 Apr. he, together with all but three of the bishops present, voted with the Whigs in favour of the amendment to motion that the Protestant succession was not in danger ‘under her majesty’s government’. He was present on 13 Apr. when the House considered the reply of the queen to an address concerning the danger from the Pretender and the necessity of his expulsion from Lorraine. Manningham again joined the rest of the 16 bishops present (save two, Sprat and Crew) in voting with the Whigs for a more strongly worded address on this matter, but the ministry carried, by only two votes cast by proxy, a resolution that the address be couched in purely general terms.27 He last sat for the session on 16 Apr. and the following day registered his proxy with John Robinson, just recently appointed bishop of London. Thus he was not present for the debates and proceedings on the schism bill, but contemporaries such as Daniel Finch, 2nd earl of Nottingham, and William Nicolson, bishop of Carlisle, regarded Manningham as a supporter of the bill against the dissenting academies, through his proxy holder Robinson, a consistent advocate of the bill.

Manningham was engaged in diocesan business throughout the summer months of 1714, dealing with a jurisdictional dispute as well as misbehaviour by members of his chapter, including the organist who proclaimed William III an irreligious pickpocket, and the canon who had made an ‘intimate acquaintance’ of Mrs Maggot of the cathedral close.28 By this point age and infirmity appears to have been taking its toll. He failed to attend any of the sittings of the short session of August 1714 following the queen’s death, but did appear in the House on the first day of George I’s Parliament on 17 Mar. 1715, although he attended only 20 days of that session. When the new archbishop William Wake ordered him in late January 1716 to ‘undertake a public performance’, Manningham could only assume ‘that your Grace is not well apprised of my weakness and ill state of health, that may be apt to impute my retiredness and non-attendance of Parliament to somewhat of humour or as an effect of that laziness to which I have been formerly subject’. Instead, as Manningham explained, ‘my constitution of body is very much broken by continual colds, frequent colics, and languishing sweats for whole nights together besides a cluster of smaller infirmities’.29 As suggested by this painful litany of ailments, he only attended the House on a further 24 sitting days from the time of this letter of 25 Jan. 1716 until his death on 25 Aug. 1722. His political and parliamentary career after 1715, such as it was, will be examined in the next phase of this work.

Manningham died on 25 Aug. 1722 at his home in Greville Street, Holborn, a relatively wealthy man. In his will, written just days before his death, he was able to bequeath some £2,500 in legacies, an annuity of £50 over 90 years, and four other annuities of £20. He had already settled part of his estate on his ten surviving children. At least four of these were sons and all but one of them became a clergyman. His son Thomas (1683-1750) even followed in his father’s footsteps and became chaplain to the Speaker of the Commons. In contrast his son Richard became a man-midwife, celebrated for exposing in 1726 the claims of Mary Toft that she had given birth to a brood of rabbits. Thomas Manningham was buried in the parish church of which he had long been rector, St Andrew’s Church, Holborn.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/587.
  • 2 Ibid.
  • 3 CSP Dom. 1691-2, p. 527.
  • 4 CSP Dom. 1699-1700, p. 93; 1700-2, p. 242.
  • 5 Nicolson, London Diaries, 526.
  • 6 CSP Dom. 1700-2, p. 358.
  • 7 Diary of John Manningham (Cam. Soc. old ser. xcix), pp. vii-x.
  • 8 Wood, Life and Times, ii. 392, 395, 423, 446.
  • 9 VCH Hants, iii. 35.
  • 10 Ath. Ox. iv. 555; Wood, iii. 119.
  • 11 Fasti Wyndesorienses, ed. Ollard, 122.
  • 12 Nicolson, London Diaries, 248, 335; LPL, ms 1770, f. 5v.
  • 13 Fasti Wyndesorienses, 49-50.
  • 14 HMC Lords, n.s. viii. 299-300.
  • 15 EHR, l. 446-9; Christ Church, Lib. Oxf. Wake mss 17, ff. 209, 228, 229, Wake mss 5, f. 2; Carpenter, Tenison, 184; Add. 61129, f. 130; Add. 61652, f. 184; Longleat, Bath mss, Thynne pprs. 46, ff. 79, 83.
  • 16 Clavering Corresp. ed. H.T. Dickinson, (Surtees Soc. clxxxviii), 71 n. 284; G. Holmes, Trial of Dr Sacheverell, 220; HJ, xix. 763, 769-70.
  • 17 Wake mss 23, f. 204; Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. iii. 1445.
  • 18 Add. 72495, ff. 75-76.
  • 19 Nicolson, London Diaries, 526.
  • 20 N. Sykes, William Wake, i. 133; Carpenter, 306.
  • 21 Add. 28227, f. 104.
  • 22 LPL, ms 941, f. 28; Carpenter, 190.
  • 23 Nicolson, London Diaries, 585.
  • 24 Pols. in Age of Anne, 399-400 and 517 n. 62.
  • 25 LPL, ms 930, no. 36.
  • 26 EHR, l. 462.
  • 27 Ibid. 463-4.
  • 28 W. Suss. RO, Cap/I/4/4/110; Chichester Cathedral ed. M. Hobbs, 108, 253-4.
  • 29 Wake mss 20, f. 19.