Manning, Owen

, an excellent antiquary and topographer, the son of Mr. Owen Manning, of Orlingbury, co. Northampton, was born there Aug. 11, 1721. He was admitted of Queen’s-college, Cambridge, where he proceeded B. A. in 1740; and about this time met with two extraordinary instances of preservation from untimely death. Having been seized with the small pox, he was attended by Dr. Heberden, who thinking he could not survive, desired that his father might be sent for. On his arrival he found the young man to all appearance dying, and next day he was supposed to have expired, and was laid out, as a corpse, in the usual manner. An undertaker was sent for, and every preparation made for his funeral. His father, however, who had not left the house, could not help frequently viewing the seemingly lifeless body; and in one of his visits, without seeing any cause for hope, said, “I will give my poor boy another chance,” and at the same time raised him up, which almost immediately produced signs of life. Dr. Heberden was then sent for, and by the use of proper means, the young man recovered. As it was customary for the scholars of every college to make verses on the death of any one of their own college, which are pinned to the pall at the funeral, like so many escutcheons, this tribute of respect was prepared for Mr. | Manning, who was much beloved by his fellow students; and it is said that the verses were presented to him afterwards, and that he kept them for many years as memoranda of his youthful friendships. Scarcely had he met with this narrow escape, when, his disorder having made him for some time subject to epileptic fits, he was seized with one of these while walking by the river, into which he feJl, and remained so long that he was thought to be drowned, and laid out on the grass, until he could be conveyed to the college, where Dr. Heberden being again called in, the proper means of recovery were used with success.

In 1741 he was elected to a fellowship of his college, in right of which he had the living of St. Botolph, in Cambridge, which he held until his marriage, in 1755. He took the degree of M. A. in 1744, and that of B. D. in 1753. In 1760, Dr. Thomas, bishop of Lincoln, to whom he was chaplain, gave him the prebend of Milton Ecclesia, in the church of Lincoln, consisting of the impropriation and advowson of the parish of Milton, co. Oxford. In 1763 he was presented by Dr. Greene, dean of Salisbury, to the vicarage of Godalming, in Surrey, and was instituted Dec. 22, he preferring the situation to that of St. Nicholas in Guildford (though a better living) which was offered to him by the same patron. Here he constantly resided till the time of his death, beloved and respected by his parishioners, and discharging his professional duty in the most punctual and conscientious manner. In 1769 he was presented to the rectory of Pepperharrow, an adjoining parish, by viscount Middleton. He was elected F. R. S. in 1767, and F. S. A. in 1770. To the sincere regret of his parishioners, and of all who knew him, Mr. Manning died Sept. 9, 1801, after a short attack of pleurisy, having entered his eighty-first year. By Catherine, his wife, daughter of Mr. Reade Peacock, a quaker, mercer, of Huntingdon, he had three sons and five daughters, all of whom survived him, except his eldest son, George Owen, and one of the daughters.

To the literary world Mr. Manning performed a most acceptable service in taking up, and by unwearied application completing, the Saxon Dictionary begun byhis friend the rev. Edward Lye (see Lye), a work which for copiousness and authorities will stand the test of the strictest examination. Mr. Lye had the patronage of a very handsome subscription, and left that, and the completion of his | work, to his friend Mr. Manning, whose abilities he well knew. After four years of close application, he printed it in 1775, in 2 vols. folio, in an elegant manner, at the press of the late Mr. Allen, of Bolt-court, Fleet-street. Besides the preface and the grammar, he made large additions to the sheets before composed, and in an appendix, he subjoined fragments of Uphilas’s version of the Epistles to the Romans; sundry Saxon charters; a Sermon oil Anti-Christ; a fragment of the Saxon Chronicle, and other instruments. Mr. Manning also published illustrations of king Alfred’s Will. His only other publications were two occasional Sermons.

From his first settlement in Surrey, he had employed himself in collecting materials for a history and antiquities of that county; and by the support of men of the first talents, possessed himself of a mass of information which falls to the lot of few persons engaged in such pursuits. His comprehensive mind and exquisite penmanship had brought them to a perfection which justly made every lover of our national antiquities deeply regret that his modesty could never be persuaded to think them sufficiently complete for publication, although he had more than once printed specimens of his intended work, and solicited assistance. At length, a total loss of sight rendered it impossible for him to execute his intention: but his previous labours were not doomed to perish. His papers being confided to the care of William Bray, esq. the present worthy treasurer of the society of antiquaries, he produced the first volume of “The History and Antiquities of Surrey,” in 1804, a large and splendid folio, which he has since completed in two more volumes. Of the whole, it may be sufficient to say, upon no slight examination of this elaborate and valuable addition to the topographical history of our country, that Mr. Bray has in every respect removed the regret which he and others felt on Mr. Manning’s being disabled from completing his own undertaking. 1


Life of Mr. Manning prefixed to vol. I. of the History of Surrey. Bowyer, vol. IX, Cole’s ms Athenæ, in Brit. Mus.