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Manning, Henry (1791 - 1859). WILL TO LEAVE?

Henry Manning (1791 -  1859)


Unless they commit some crime it is rare that the ordinary families of Ringstead appear in the official documents of the time except as brief entries of their birth, marriage and death and, after 1841, the ten yearly censuses. Henry, however, and his family became part of a case to settle a point of law on the “Duty and Office of Magistrates”. His misfortune casts a little light into these lost lives

Henry Manning was born in about 1791. I have not found any record of his birth but he was twenty-three years old when he married Rebecca Stevens on 3rd November 1814. His parents were Thomas Manning and Elizabeth Bugby and his grandfather was another Thomas Manning.

Unusually, Thomas Senior had a little property and on the 6th January 1800 he made a will. In this he left “five acres of land, more or less, of copyhold meadow ground with their and every of their appurtenances lying and being dispersed in the open and common fields and meadows of Ringstead". He also gave 25 shillings to his daughter Mary, the wife of Thomas Plant. He bequeathed to Elizabeth the widow of his late son, Thomas, “all that part of a messuage or tenement with the appurtenances, which is now in the occupation of Henry Lawford situate in Ringstead aforesaid and adjoining the tenement in the occupation of Joseph Manning."

Finally, he left to the four children of Thomas and Elizabeth, namely Henry, John, Thomas and Rebecca, on the marriage or death of their mother this house as well as the house next door in which Joseph Manning lived together with the “close or orchard lying about the said homestead on the north side of a back lane and now in the several tenures of Thomas Senior, Samuel Hackett and Mary Whitney."

Henry must have moved to Wellingborough and become a pauper for, in about 1828, the magistrates there sent him back to Ringstead because they said that he had an 'interest in property' there. It was decided by the court that, because his mother had not died or remarried at the time, he had no interest in property in Ringstead and therefore this action was illegal.

Unusually for the family historian a family tree for a working family is partially laid out. It also shows how the Poor Law operated with parishes eager to unload the cost of any pauper if at all possible. They were on the lookout for the “illegal immigrant”.

Henry himself, now 50 years old, is recorded in "Harriotts Lane", [now Harriotts] Wellingborough with his wife Rebecca and daughters Maria and Elizabeth. Also living with them is Hannah aged 50 who is probably the wife of his brother John He is recorded as a shoemaker.

Here we get one of those surprising leaps when a family break through the parochial bounds and suddenly appear away from friends and family. In this case it was not unusual in the middle of the nineteenth century for people from the villages, pauperised by the depressions in agriculture to be drawn into the “Great Wen”. Areas like Bethnal Green became terrible overcrowded stinking slums with neither clean water nor sewerage. Ways of living, which had been sustainable in a rural setting, when continued in the cities led to terrible living conditions and often to disease and early death.

Henry and Rebecca seemed to have fared a little better than many because in 1851 we find them at No 28 Lower Belgravia Street in the Parish of St George, Hanover Square in the City of Westminster. I have not found the re-marriage or death of his mother, Elizabeth, but it is likely that this had occurred and Henry had his legacy. He is now 59 years old and Rebecca is 50. He is a bootmaker and Rebecca is a dressmaker. Elizabeth, now 21 is a ladies’ maid and Mary Ann is a dressmaker like her mother. Next door lives Samuel Candy, a Master Mason employing 40 men and, two doors away at No 30, James Burrows, a coal merchant. Number 28 had four families living in it. There was a house painter and his wife from Gosport, a master tailor from Gloucester with his wife and four children, and a woman from Canterbury and her grandson who was "supported by friends".

There is some confusion here because in 1851 Lydia is shown not living with her parents but nearby as a visitor with Elizabeth Collins. In 1861 the two are again living together but this time Lydia is shown the sister of Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the correct age to have been Elizabeth Manning so who is the Elizabeth Manning living with her parents in 1851. It appears that Maria, who is about the same age, has changed her name to Elizabeth once the first Elizabeth has married. There may be another explanation but at the moment none is obvious.

from Map of London (1827) by Christopher and John Greenwood

By kind permission of Motco Enterprises Ltd.

Lower Belgrave Place was not one of the "best" streets of this prosperous area being more Pimlico than Belgravia but it was pleasanter than most in the capital and seems to have had an artistic community. Allan Cunningham, the Scottish born writer lived at number 27 until his death in 1842. The  sculptor, John Evan Thomas, who produced statues of the great and the good, especially from his native Wales, established a studio at number 7 from about 1834 until 1862. His most famous sculpture is "The Death of Tewdic" and a bronze electrotype of it was exhibited by Elkington, Mason and Co. in the Great Exhibition of 1851.

It would be surprising if Henry and his family did not attend this grand display of Victorian confidence in industry and Empire. Hyde Park, where the Great Exhibiton Hall, the Crystal Palace, was erected, was just a stone's  throw away and, it seems the whole of England, regardless of class, clamoured to see it. One of its opponents in the House of Commons, railed against it being allowed to stay in Hyde Park after the Exhibition had finished in these words:

Unfortunately, however, for the people of this country, the erection of the Crystal Place took place; and what had been the result? The desecration of the Sabbath - the demoralisation of the people - a disunion of parties - and increasing poverty to a most serious extent; for he had heard and with pain, that the poor of this country had been seduced to come up to this Exhibition. All that they had saved and all they could borrow had been in many cases spent in this foolish journey; and he knew he spoke facts when he stated that not only had they borrowed money but pawned their clothes to enable them to come up to this "World's Fair," as it was called; and now they were left without a penny in their pockets.

Colonel Sibthorpe 29 July 1851

Others were pleasantly surprised that the working class had behaved well and there had not been the terrible outbreak of violence and immorality that had been predicted. The more recent criticism of the Millenium Dome seems very mild by comparison.

A new world of invention and manufacture was being celebrated but one that neither Henry or Rebecca lived long to see. Rebecca died on 26th October 1857 in Pimlico followed some eighteen months later on 14 June 1859, aged 68 by Henry.



 1841, 1851 1861Censuses

 BMD (

 Ringstead BMD (Northampton Record Office)

 Reports of Cases Relating to the Duty and Office of Magistrates (Michaelmas Term 1827 – Easter term 1830) (published by Sweet 1832). On Googlebooks website (1827 Map of London)








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