Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Edye Manning (1783–1870)

by R. J. M. Newton

This article was published:

John Edye Manning (1783-1870), court registrar, was the second son of Rev. James Manning of Exeter, England, and his second wife, Lydia, née Edye. He married Matilda Jordan Cooke (1788-1860) on 1 May 1804 and about that time began practising law. In 1811 he became insolvent and executed a deed of assignment of his property for the benefit of his creditors. Between 1814 and 1823 Manning lived on the Continent; he returned to England in 1823 under the protection of the Insolvent Debtors' Relief Act and in 1824 sold his property.

Manning was appointed registrar of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in August 1828 on a salary of £800, and next May arrived in Sydney in the Lord Melville with his wife and five of his children. His expectations were disappointed; on his arrival he complained to the Colonial Office that living costs were high and that the customary land grant and town allotment had not been immediately granted to him. Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling was instructed to extend this indulgence to Manning and granted him two allotments at Rushcutters Bay in November 1831. Manning was also appointed curator of intestate estates by the judges of the Supreme Court, and despite his objections was obliged to lodge a security of £2000 to protect the public from loss. Since he could not raise this sum in the colony, his father and his elder brother, a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, entered into security in England on his behalf. In 1838 Manning again objected when the judges of the Supreme Court made new rules for the deposit of intestate money in the Savings Bank and for the quarterly audit of the registrar's accounts. Manning felt that these rules were inconsistent with the understanding on which he had accepted his position. He claimed that his official income had proved to be less than half the £2000 a year which he had been promised as the practical value of his office, and that, unless he could derive an indirect income through the custody of intestate estates, he would have to use his own salary to pay the cost of their administration, with consequent losses to the beneficiaries. However, these objections were waived by Glenelg who insisted that Manning had no reason for complaint or disappointment.

From his arrival in the colony Manning took an active part in public life; he was a member of the Stockholders' Committee, the Southern Cattle Association and the Sydney College Committee, a director of the Fire and Life Assurance Co. and the Sydney Ferry Co., and active in the formation of the Brisbane Water Steam Co., the Australian Navigation Co. and the Australian Mining Co. He was a member of the central committee of the Australian Immigration Association and a generous subscriber to religious and charitable funds. His large land holdings included houses and stores in Queen Street, Sydney, land at Brisbane Water, Melbourne, Carcoar, Goulburn and Wollongong, and a lease of Vermont near Camden.

In 1838 Manning opposed certain clauses in the bills of insolvent debtors and imprisonment for debt, claiming that they favoured the creditor and were inexpedient at a time when the colony was exposed to fluctuations in the English market. Late in 1841 he himself became a victim of the depression, for his property and stock were heavily mortgaged and his shares worthless. Manning told the judges of the Supreme Court that his financial difficulties prevented him from lodging the intestate estates money in the Savings Bank. He could give only a second mortgage on landed property as security for the payment of the balance of the trust money. In December 1841 his resignation was refused because he was under the control of the judges while he remained in office. In January 1842 Gipps decided to suspend him from office when the judges took out a writ against him. When Manning's town estate was sequestrated in March, his debts amounted to some £30,000, of which about £10,000 was trust money that he had failed to lodge with the Savings Bank. During the insolvency proceedings he admitted that his private and public funds had been kept in the same account. The judges claimed that he had been £1100 short in his balances at the 1838 audit and thereafter had evaded payment of the money into the bank by failing to collect trust funds, to advertise for creditors to claim their dues or to present the annual lists required by the British government.

Stanley charged the judges with responsibility for Manning's default because they had neglected to enforce their rules, and insisted that all claims for compensation be made in the colony. However, the British Treasury did obtain the £2000 lodged as security by Manning's family in England, although this sum, paid to the Colonial Treasury in 1846, did not go far in meeting the claims on Manning's estate by the beneficiaries of intestate estates. In May the Legislative Council petitioned the Queen to take steps to relieve those who had suffered through Manning's appointment to a position of trust despite a previous insolvency, but the British government refused to take action. Members of Manning's family in the colony offered to pay compensation for their father's default; their proposal was apparently disregarded, for in 1849 the Legislative Council passed an Act to provide for the payment of claims on the late registrar of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in respect of the Intestates' Estates Act (13 Vic. no. 44). Meanwhile Manning had returned to England, and again spent some time on the Continent. He appears to have received an annual remittance from the family of Lord Brougham, who had been instrumental in advancing the Manning family in New South Wales. John Edye Manning died in Bristol, England, on 16 January 1870; of his five sons and three daughters who survived infancy, Edye was a merchant in Sydney, and William Montagu had a distinguished legal career.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 14-6, 18-25
  • Sydney Gazette, 9 May 1829
  • Australian, 16 Oct 1841, 7 May 1842
  • manuscript catalogue under John Manning (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Thematic Essay

Citation details

R. J. M. Newton, 'Manning, John Edye (1783–1870)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




16 January, 1870 (aged ~ 87)
Bristol, Gloucestershire, England

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