The Ancestry of Hattie E. J. Bruce - the Manning Family


WILLIAM MANNING [#1924], d. Boston, MA between 17 Feb 1665-6 and 28 Apr 1666, m(1) SUSANNAH ____, d. Oct 1650, m(2) Elizabeth ____.

William Manning arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony early, but it is not known exactly when. Indeed most of the information we have would be unavailable were it not for a certain, very interesting and informative document. It seems William was a member of the church at Cambridge where Reverend Thomas Shepard preached. Mr. Shepard left behind a manuscript in which were recorded the "confessions" of his congregation and to which he gave the general caption ÿThe Confessions Diverse propounded to be received and were entertained as membersÿ. Thus modern day researchers are able to learn about William Manning's life and thoughts through his own words. The problem with all this is that although Rev. Shepard was an able preacher and well educated man, he was not the best penman in New England's history.[3/91] What follows is a rendering by an expert as can be found in the Manning Genealogy. The other problem is that we don't know how closely Rev. Shepard followed William's own words. While it may not be word for word, it can be assumed to be quite accurate.

"Goodman Manning's Confession" begins with William describing his sinful early years in which as an apprentice 14 years old he "liv'd in a place where it was bad examples, was drawn aside whereas I might have got good but being a prentice : with him 4 years I did grow very loose & vayne & would not be ruled nor governed by my dame". William goes on to say how he looked "upon them that liv'd more restraynedly & civilly than I did I thought I would leave off my bad company & joyne myself to such as they were". He "took a business lawfull & commendable in hand, yet joyning on it without any wisdom". Despite his desire to become good, he still clung to his worldly ways, being occupied in his business. Eventually however, faith won out and William made an attempt at righteous living, difficult as it was for him. He gives his reasons for emigrating to America as "... having at last thoughts of this place in N[ew] England; my wife & I hearinge some certynty of help here; I desired to come thither tho I was weake; yet the Lord in mercy made away ready for me".[3/9295]

The voyage from England was not an easy one. "When [the] Lord brought me to sea I was overcome with a discontented mind; meeting there with hard & sad tryalls; as that Losse of my wife; when I thought I had not done well in doing this I had done tho' they were but carnall thoughts & would if possible return again; yet the Lord in some measure let me see it was a sin to so wish or think, & thought the Lord would at last bring me higher".[3/9295] It would seem from this passage that William's wife died during the voyage, but another rendering of Shepard's work for this same passage reads slightly differently. "When the Lord brought me to sea, I was overcome with a discontented mind, meeting there with hard and sad trials as fear of loss of my wife".[4/97] Since William goes on to talk about his wife soon after their arrival, it would seem she was still alive.

William may have lived in Roxbury upon landing as he says, "at last the Lord brought me higher & I lived at Roxbury 9 or 10 weekes". It would appear that he stayed there shortly after his arrival, but some question could be raised. In describing how he came to live in Cambridge, William says, "Mr. Hooker being here my wife & I desired to come to this place"[3/9295] (Hooker was the minister of Cambridge). This statement would seem to indicate that William Manning and his wife left England in order to be with Reverend Hooker, thus he lived a short time at Roxbury until he found a place across the Charles River in Cambridge. However, if this were the case, why didn't he go directly to Cambridge? Could it be he had family or friends living in Roxbury? Or was it that he remarried in Massachusetts and it was his second wife he means when he said he and his wife wanted to be with Rev. Hooker?

Assuming that William Manning knew of Reverend Hooker before coming to this country may give an indication of William's English home. Hooker preached at Chelmsford, Essex and opened a school at Little Baddow about five miles away. He then went to Holland for two years before emigrating to Cambridge as early as 1633. He later left for Hartford, Connecticut in 1636. Many of his "flock" at Cambridge were from Braintree, Essex, 11 miles from Chelmsford. However, when he preached at Chelmsford, people came from all the surrounding towns to hear him. It would certainly seem likely that William Manning was one of these people. It could also be that Reverend Hooker was the force that inspired William to mend his ways, but this is mere speculation.

William Manning was made a freeman in 1640 in Cambridge. He lived a short distance south of Harvard Square at the southeast corner of what were then called Spring and Crooked Streets and are now known as Mount Auburn and Holyoke Streets, respectively. If his neighbors were any indication of his character and stature in the community, William would have to have been a respected citizen. Of his nearest neighbors, three were: John Russell, constable, Selectman, and clerk of writs; Joseph Cook, Selectman, town clerk, magistrate, and representative; and John Bridges, deacon and Selectman.[3]

William's wife Susanna died in Cambridge Oct. 16, 1650. He married again to Elizabeth whose surname is not known. She may have been a resident of Boston as "willyam Manning was admitted member, 25. 6 mo. 1664" to the First Church of Boston. It should be realized that he may have been living in Boston for some time prior to this date but kept his church relationship in Cambridge. However he was certainly a Boston resident by the above date (August 25, 1664).[3/95]

In his will William Manning mentioned his wife Elizabeth, his son William, and his grandchild Samuel Walsbie. After the death of Elizabeth, William was to receive only one third of the estate because he already had "through ye providence of god A good estate". Samuel Walsbie was to receive the remaining two thirds. It can't be stated for certainty that Samuel was William's grandson. In those early times such expressions were used as a matter of convenience in addition to indicating a family relationship. Lacking other data, however, one should take the term at face value. Assuming this, it would be expected that William had a daughter named Hannah. A search of the colonial records indicates Samuel was the son of David Walsby of Braintree (a possible further connection to Hooker?), who had a wife Hannah. Hannah Walsby died Feb. 2, 1655-6, which explains why the daughter was not mentioned in the will written ten years later.

It is not known when William Manning was born, but the 1580's or early 1590's would be most probable as his son William was born about 1614.

REF: [1] History of Cambidge - Lucius R. Paige, 1877
     [2] New England Historic Genealogical Register, 1952
     [3] The William Manning Family of Cambridge - William H. Manning,
         1902 (pg.85-98)
     [4] Thomas Shepard's Confessions - edited by George Selement
         & Bruce C. Woolley, 1981


1. William, b. abt. 1614, d. Cambridge, MA 14 Mar 1690-1,
   m. Dorothy ____, d. Cambridge 26 Jul 1692
2. Hannah?, d. Braintree, MA 2 Feb 1655-6, m. David Walsby

WILLIAM MANNING [#962], b. abt. 1614, d. Cambridge, MA 14 Mar 1690-1 "age 76 years", m. DOROTHY ____, b. abt. 1612, d. Cambridge 26 Jul 1692

William Manning was the only confirmed child of William above mentioned. He was born in England about 1614 and came to this country, probably with his father, no later than 1634. In that year he settled in Cambridge which was his home for the rest of his life. William's wife was named Dorothy, but neither her maiden name nor her birth date are known at this time. From 1646 to his death, William owned a house at the southeast corner of Dunster and South Streets, which is probably where he lived during that time. He owned various other pieces of real estate as evidenced from grants of the town, however no deeds are in existence to indicate how he disposed of them. William became a freeman in 1643.[2]

William Manning was a merchant by trade. He had a warehouse across the street from his home and constructed a wharf on the Charles River, just down the street from his warehouse. His business was obviously a success as his father indicated in his will that William. Jr. was financially well off.[2] The County Court had the power to license some people to sell intoxicating liquors by retail. This included William Manning from 16541686.[1/227] On June 9, 1652 he was granted lot 68 of sixty acres and lot 54 of 70 acres.[1/59]

From all the public offices he held, it is obvious that William was a prominent and trusted citizen as well as a successful businessman. In 1651 he was elected highway surveyor and also a gauger "to size casks". He was the constable in the years 1652, '66, '68, '75, and '79 and was Selectman in 1652, '66'70, '72, '75'81, and '83. His name also appears frequently on committees to view lands and highways and determine what should be done in some cases. In 1660 "Edward Oakes & William Manning are chosen to joyne with the committe formerly chosen, ye eighth of December, 1656, for the prosecuting & effecting a Bridge over Charles River". In 1669 "At a meeting of the Select Men Mr. William Manning and petter Towne was appointed to agree with workmen to take down the Scholehouse and set it up againe and to carry the stones in the cellar to the place whare the house for the minister is to be built".[1/373] William was appointed by the Selectmen Feb. 14, 1675-6 with Nathaniel Hancock, John Jackson, and John Gove "to have inspection into families that there bye no drinking, or any misdemeanor whereby sin is committed, and persons from their houses unseasonably".[1/97] He was also one of the Jury of Grand Inquest of the County Court in 1675 and was a member of the grand jury of the Court of Sessions in 1686 and 1688.

The meager records of the Cambridge church list "William Manning and Dorothy his wife both in full communion. Their children, Hannah, Samuel, Sarah, John, and Mary, all born and baptized in this church". William was also called upon to perform services for the church. In 1670 he was appointed with another "to catechise the youth" of the town. More importantly, in 1668 after the death of Reverend Mitchell, the third pastor of Cambridge, William Manning was selected by the church to go to England to persuade Reverned Urian Oakes to come to Cambridge and accept the vacant pastorate. "An account of seaverall providencis of God to the Church of Cambrigd, after the death of that reverant and eminent man Mr. Jonathan Mitchell, pastor of the church, and the actings of the church for supply in the ministry. After sume time of seeking god by prayer, the lord was pleased to guide the Church to make theare application to Mr. Urian Oakes in old England which to further the same theare was a letter sent from the Church with a messenger namly Mr. William Manning with a letter alsoe sent by severall Magistrates and Ministers to Invite him to come over and be an Officer amongst us which he after Counsill and advice did Except".[1/271]

The sickness and death of Mr. Oakes' wife, and his own ill health delayed his coming until 1671, in which year he was ordained at Cambridge. At this point the record states, "August 9th, 1671. Delivered to William Manning sixty pounds in silver to pay Mr. Prout toward the transportation of Mr. Urian Oakes his familie & goods & other disbursements".[1/272]

William Manning was also selected as an associate along with John Cooper to oversee the replacement of the Harvard College building and to receive and disburse funds for that purpose. This work began in 1672 and was fraught with many difficulties until the final accounting in 1684. Many records can be found regarding this effort and are well documented in the Manning family work listed in the reference. To summarize the difficulties, many towns had agreed to donate money for the work of the Colony's only college. However, the towns were poor and many didn't cpme through with the promised money, thus causing a sporadic, or at best, slow work effort. William, however, saw the task through to a successful completion.

William Manning died March 14, 1690-1 at the age of 76. He left no will, but his heirs agreed to an even division of the estate, with Samuel Manning, the eldest son (in this case, only son), receiving a double share as was customary. Inventory of the estate was taken March 30, 1691 by Elder Clark, Deacon Cooper, and Jonathan Remington and amounted to 218.19.08.[4/7:277] In an agreement dated Cambridge March 22, 1692-3, the heirs claimed to have already received 308.03.07 prior to William's death. After debts and funeral expenses there remained 163.02.09 in the estate. This resulted in five shares of 94.05.04 each. The heirs were "Samuel Manning ye only son", "Hannah Sternes ye eldest Daughter", "Joseph Bull ... with his wife Sarah second Daughter", "Eliphalet Adams ye only son of Mary ye youngest Daughter".[4/8:317]

Dorothy Manning died July 26, 1692, aged 80,. Administration on her estate was granted to her son Samuel on Dec. 24, 1692,[3/8:62] and the inventory, taken July 28, 1692, amounted to 163.01.00 after "maids wages, Nurssing, and charges at ye Buriall".[3/8:63] William and Dorothy were buried side by side in the old cemetery near Harvard Square in Cambridge.

REF: [1] History of Cambridge - Lucius R. Paige, 1877
     [2] William Manning Family of Cambridge - William H. Manning,
         1902 (pgs.99-118)
     [3] Middlesex County Probate (First Series Docket 14576)
     [4] Middlesex County Probate (First Series Docket 14610
     [5] Cambridge, MA Vital Records

Children (born in Cambridge):

1. Hannah, b. 21 Jun 1642, d. 26 Feb 1723-4, m. 1 Feb
   1662-3 Samuel Stearns, b. Watertown, MA 2 Apr 1638,
   d. 1683
2. Samuel, b. 21 Jul 1644, d. Billerica, MA 22 Feb 1710-1,
   m(1) 13 Apr 1664 Elizabeth Stearns (dau. of Isaac Stearns
   and Mary Barker), d. 24 Jun 1671, m(2) 6 May 1673 Abiel
   Wight, b. Medford, MA 1 Jan 1654
3. Sarah, b. Cambridge, MA 28 Jan 1645-6, m. 11 Apr 1671 Joseph
   Bull, d. 22 Mar 1711-2
4. Abigail, b. 15 Jan 1647-8, d. 10 May 1648
5. John, b. 31 Mar 1649, d. of small pox 25 May 1678
6. Mary, b. abt. 1651, d. 1679, m. 21 Oct 1674 William Adams,
   b. Ipswich, MA 27 May 1650, d. 17 Aug 1685

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