Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Manton, Thomas

MANTON, THOMAS, D.D. (1620–1677), presbyterian divine, baptised at Lydeard St. Lawrence, Somerset, 31 March 1620, was son of Thomas Manton, probably curate of that place at the time. He was educated at the free school, Tiverton, and was an 'apt scholar, ready at fourteen for the university.' On 11 March 1635 he entered Wadham College, Oxford, and applied himself to divinity; he graduated B.A. from Hart Hall 15 June 1639, and was ordained by Bishop Hall of Exeter at the age of twenty (Harris). This premature step he afterwards speaks of (Exposition of James) as a 'rash intrusion,' Wood conceives that he was not ordained until the beginning of 1660, by Bishop Galloway at Westminster, which is unlinely. Hill of Rotterdam says that he only took deacon's orders from bishop Hall, and that he never would submit to any other ordination (Athenæ Oxon. iii. 1135 «.) Manton preached his first sermon at Sowton, near Exeter. He was in that city during the siege by the royalists, and upon its surrender (4 Sept. 1643) went to Lyme. Soon afterwards he was chosen lecturer at Cullompton, Devonshire. About the end of 1644, or early in 1645, he was appointed by Colonel Alexander Popham, M.P., and lessee of the manor, to the living of Stoke Newington, on the sequestration of William Heath. Manton soon became ex tremely popular, and an acknowledged leader of the presbyterians in London.

He was one of the three scribes to the Westminster Assembly, and signed the preface to the 'Confession,' adding an 'Epistle to the Header' of his own (see ed. Edinb. 1827). On at least six occasions Manton was called to preach before the Long parliament, the first being 30 June 1647, a fast day (Commons' Journals). He strongly disapproved of the king's execution, but remained in favour with Cromwell and his parliament, and again preached before them on thanksgiving and fast days until 4 Feb. 1658. He attended Christopher Love [q. v.] on the scaffold (22 Aug. 1651), and afterwards, in spite of threats of shooting from the soldiers, preached a funeral sermon (printed 1651) in Love's church of St. Lawrence Jewry, though 'without pulpit-cloth or cushion,' Manton was incorporated B.D, on 20 April 1654 at Oxford, on the ground that 'he is a person of known worth, and a constant preacher in London,' In 1666 he was presented by William Russell, earl of Bedford, to the rectory of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, a new church built and endowed by Francis, fourth earl (Newcourt, i. 707). Although he was not legally admitted until 10 Jan. 1660 (Kennett, Register), he attracted to the church, under the Commonwealth, crowds of the nobility, both Scottish and English. Evelyn was there (Diary, i. 327) on 23 May 1658, when Manton had collections made for the sequestrated ministers. On another occasion Baxter and Br. Wilkins, afterwards bishop of Chester, assisted him in a service for the Piedmontese protestants. He was nominated by the committee of parliament, with Baxter and others, to draw up the 'Fundamentals, of Religion' (Baxter, Reliquiæ, pt. ii. p. 197). He was also appointed one of the 'triers' or inquisitors of godly ministers. "Wood derisively calls him the 'prelate of the Protectorate,' On 26 June 1657 Manton was present in Westminster Hall, and 'recommended his Highness, the Parliament, the council, the forces by land and sea, and the whole government and people of the three nations to the blessing and protection of God' (Whitelocke, p. 662)

Manton was anxious for the Restoration, and was one of the deputation to Breda, where Charles II promised to make subscription easier for the presbyterians. In June or July 1660 he was sworn one of the twelve chaplains to the king, but never preached before him, or received or expected any pay (Baxter). He sat on the commission for the revision of the liturgy, which met in the first instance at Calamy's house 2 April 1660, and diligently attended the Savoy conference (convened 25 March 1661). He accompanied Baxter, Calamy, and others to an audience of the king, who desired them 'to set down what they would yield to,' The presbyterians met at Sion College for two or three weeks, and attended at Lord-chancellor Manchester's when their declaration was read before the king (22 Oct. 1660).

On 19 Nov. 1660 Manton was created D.D. at Oxford, and was offered the deanery of Rochester, but he declined to subscribe. He continued at St. Paul's, Covent Garden, not reading the liturgy nor having it read, until a petition was presented by his congregation at the end of 1661. On 24 Aug, (St. Bartholomew's day) 1662 he left his living, but disclaims having preached any farewell sermon (Kennett, p. 779). He attended the services of his successor, Dr. Patrick, afterwards bishop of Ely, until Patrick charged him with circulating a libel about him in the church (Bodl. MSS. Cod. Tann. xxxiii. fol. 38). Manton then held frequent services in his own house in King Street, Covent Garden, until the numbers grew too large, and the meetings were moved successively to White Hart Yard, Brydges (now Catherine) Street, and to Lord Wharton's in St. Giles's. It is a sign of his popularity that the Earl of Berkshire, 'a Jansenist papist,' who lived next door, offered egress 'over a low wall' if trouble arose (Harris). Among those who regularly came were the Countesses of Bedford and Manchester, Lady Clinton, Sir William Lockier, and Lady Seymour (Hist. MSS. Comm. 2nd Rep. App. vi. p. 15). In September 1668 Manton, 'being next the court and of great name among the presbyterians,' drew up, at the suggestion of Sir John Baber [q. v.], an address to the king acknowledging the clemency of his majesty's government. Manton described his own and his companion's reception at Lord Arlington's, the secretary of state, in a letter to Baxter (Reliquiæ, iii. 37). His meetings were connived at until about 1670, when he was arrested on a Sunday afternoon just as he was finishing his sermon. He was committed to the Gatehouse, but was treated leniently, Lady Broughton being the keeper. Baxter 'judges him well at ease,' On being released, six months after, Manton began preaching in a room in White Hart Yard, and only escaped a second arrest by a timely warning, which enabled James Bedford, who had taken the Oxford oath, to occupy his place. In 1672 he was chosen one of the first six preachers for the merchants and citizens of London at the weekly lecture in Pinners' Hall, where he continued to preach 'occasionally until his death. Two years later, Manton, with Baxter and Bates, met Tillotson and Stillingfleet, 'to consider of an accommodation.' A draft was agreed upon and laid before the bishops, who rejected it. About 1675 his health failed. A visit to Lord Wharton's country seat at Woburn did him little good. He fell into a lethargy painful to the many friends who visited him, and died 18 Oct. 1677, in the fifty-seventh year of his age. He was buried in the chancel of St. Mary's, Stoke Newington, on 22 Oct. His funeral sermon was preached by William Bates (printed London, 1678). John Collinges [q. v.] preached at the merchants' lecture, and Thomas Case [q. v.], then above eighty, also commemorated his death. 'Words of Peace,' Manton's dignified and spiritual utterances on his deathbed, was published as a broadside a month or two after.

Manton was the most popular of the presbyterians, and used his influence 'for the public tranquillity,' Bates says' his prudent, pacific spirit rendered him most useful in these divided times.' According to Neal, he was 'a good old puritan, who concerned not with the politics of the court,' only with its religion. He made no enemies. His portrait, engraved by White, is prefixed to most of his works. His place was, above all, in the pulpit. Archbishop Ussher called him 'a voluminous preacher,' and the six folio volumes published ; after his death contain 689 sermons. Lord ; Bolingbroke, writing to Swift (Swift, Letters, ed. 1767, ii. 172), says: 'Manton taught my youth to yawn, and prepared me to be a high churchman, that I might never hear him read or read him more,' Besides the public occasions mentioned above, Manton preached the second sermon to the Sons of the Clergy, several times before the lord mayor and aldermen at St. Paul's, and took part in the morning exercises at Cripplegate and elsewhere.

Manton married Mary Morgan of Sidbury, Devonshire, who survived him twenty years. They had several children. A daughter Ann married a Mr. Terry, and died 16 March 1689. Some commemorative verses by her; nephew, Henry Cutts, are to be found in 'Advice to Mourners, &c, a Sermon long since preached by J. Manton,' published by Matthew Silvester, 1694, with a short account of the two wives of Mr. Terry. A son Thomas was baptised at Stoke Newington 7 Oct. 1645, and a son James was buried there 18 June 1656. Another son, Nathaniel, born 4 March 1657, was a bookseller at the Three Pigeons in the Poultry (see note at end of Preface to vol. iv. of the folio edition of his sermons). Another daughter, Mary, was born 9 Dec. 1658.

Dr. Manton's extremely valuable library was sold at his house in King Street, Covent Garden, 25 March following his death. The catalogue was the fourth printed. A copy, with the prices in manuscript, is in the British Museum Library.

Manton published: 1. 'Meate out of the Eater, &c.,' London, 1647. 2. 'England's Spirituall Languishing, &c.,' London, 1648, Both fast sermons preached before the commons. 3. 'A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition, with Notes, upon the Epistle of James,' London, 1651; reprinted 1653, 1657, 1840, 1842, and 1844. 4. 'The Blessed Estate of them that Die in the Lord,' London, 1656. 5. 'A Practical Commentary on the Epistle of Jude,' 1658, being weekly lectures delivered at Stoke Newington. 6. 'Smectymnuus Redivivus,' with a preface of his own, being a reprint of the 1641 edition (see Calami), 1669. He also wrote a number of prefaces or recommendatory epistles to the works of Case, Chetwynd, Clifford, Hollingworth, Gray, Strong, Sibbes, and others.

Immediately after Manton's death Bates published a volume of his sermons, with portrait, 1678, 4to. A second was published by Baxter, 1679, 8vo. 'A Practical Exposition of the Lord's Prayer' appeared in 1684, and 'Several Discourses tending to Promote Peace and Holiness among Christians,' 1686; 'Christ's Temptation and Transfiguration Practically Explained and Improved,' 1685 ; 'A Practical Exposition on Isaiah liii.,' 1703. Vol. i. of the folio complete edition of his sermons, with memoir by William Harris, D.D. [q. v.], and 190 sermons on Psalm cxix., appeared in 1681; 2nd edit., corrected, 1725; a later edition, in 3 vols. 8vo, 1842. Vol. ii. pt. L, dedicated to "William, earl of Bedford, by Bates, Collins, and Howe, 1684; pt. ii., dedicated to Lord and Lady Wharton, by Bates and Howe, 1684. Vol. iii. pt. i., containing a treatise on the Lord's Supper, 1688. Vol. iv. 1693. They are supplied with a curious but most complete index. 'The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, St. Giles, and Southwark,' edited by Nichols, 6 vols. 1844, contains four of Manton's sermons.

[Authorities mentioned above; Gardiner's Registers of Wadham, p. 129; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 1134—9; Calamy and Palmer, i. 175, 426; Harris's Memoir, 1725; Eschard's Hist. p. 936; Mitchell's Westminster Assembly, pp. xx, 124, 469; Neal's Puritans, iv. 445 n.; Robinson's Hist, and Antiquities of Stoke Newington, pp. 140-3; Lysons's Environs of London, pp. 291-2; Burnet's Hist, of his own Time, i. 259, 308; Clarendon's Rebellion, xvi. 242, ed. 1849; Marsden's Later Puritans, 1st edit. p. 418; Baxters Biographical Collections, 1768, pp. 199-226; Kennett's Hist, of England, iii. 281; Wilson's Hist, of Dissenting Churches, iii. 545-66; Darling's Encyclop. Bibliograph. 1854; Administration at Somerset House; Registers of Lydeard St. Lawrence per Rev. F. L. Hughes, of Stoke Newington per Rev. L. L. Shelford, and of Covent Garden per Rev. S. T. Cumberlege.]

C. F. S.