Manning, Henry

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MANNING, HENRY (1808–1892), English Roman Catholic convert and cardinal-archbishop of Westminster.

Henry Edward Manning was born in Totteridge, England, to affluent parents; his father was a Tory MP (member of Parliament) and governor of the Bank of England. In April 1827 Manning entered Balliol College, Oxford. Manning married Caroline Sargent in November 1833, the same year in which he was ordained a priest in the Church of England. She died unexpectedly on 25 July 1837, having produced no children.

In the 1830s, Manning became involved with the controversial Oxford Movement, a widening group of religious thinkers led by theologian John Henry Newman (1801–1890) that sought to return the Church of England to the High Church ideals of the seventeenth century. He distributed the movement's Tracts for the Times in his locality and in 1836 lent his own name to Tract 78, which treated the subject of Catholic tradition.

Manning was appointed archdeacon of Chichester in December 1840. He became a prominent figure as his compelling pronouncements were followed nationwide. He called attention to the condition of the impoverished and the socially marginal, sympathized with the working class, condemned the abuses of landowners and employers, and promoted the education of the poor and the independence of the church from secular interference.

While convalescing from illness in Rome in 1847, Manning studied Catholic theology, met with Pope Pius IX (r. 1846–1878), and returned to England to endure three years of spiritual distress. He was troubled when in 1850 the Privy Council overruled the refusal of a bishop to institute an Anglican divine on grounds of unorthodoxy. Manning saw this as an unacceptable invasion by the state upon the independent authority of the church.

On 6 April 1851 Manning entered the Roman Catholic communion at a Jesuit church.

Manning intensified his radical social work as a Catholic priest and founded a community of mission priests (the Oblates of St. Charles) to work in the poorest quarters of London. In 1857, he established a major Catholic congregation in Bayswater. Over the next eight years, he built three new churches in the neighborhood, as well as four convents and eight schools.

On 8 June 1865, Manning was appointed archbishop of Westminster, the leading clerical Roman Catholic post in Britain—just fourteen years after his conversion. He was named a cardinal on 29 March 1875. His years as archbishop began with efforts to fund Catholic schools throughout Britain. As an ultramontanist, he defended the doctrine of papal infallibility at the Vatican Council of 1869–1870, though the council's final definition gave less authority to the papacy than he had advocated. Manning consistently sought to protect the pope's independence from secular control.

Manning insisted that the church should help protect workers against exploitation by employers and that labor should fight for fair wages and reasonable hours of work. He personally intervened in the London Dock Strike of 1889, breaking the deadlock and earning the gratitude of the labor force nationwide.

Manning died in London on 14 January 1892, following an attack of bronchitis. Crowds thronged his funeral procession—an event that would have been unthinkable for a Catholic in Britain just two generations earlier. His body was reinterred at Westminster Cathedral.

See alsoCatholicism; Newman, John Henry.


Gray, Robert. Cardinal Manning: A Biography. London, 1985.

McClelland, V. A. Cardinal Manning: His Public Life and Influence, 1865–1892. London, 1962.

Newsome, David. Convert Cardinals: John Henry Newman and Henry Edward Manning. London, 1993.

Pereiro, James. Cardinal Manning: An Intellectual Biography. Oxford, U.K., 1998.

Stephen Vella

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