A Biographical Sketch of Thomas Manton (1620-1677)

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Thomas Manton was born in 1620 at Lydeard St. Lawrence, Somerset.[1] Manton spent most of his life in Oxford for his studies and London for ministry. Many remembered Manton as “the king of preachers” during his lifetime. Even the prince of preachers Charles Spurgeon (d. 1892) commended Manton’s sermons on Psalm 199; he said, “There is not a poor discourse…he is evenly good, constantly excellent.”[2] Furthermore, Manton was a nonconformist Puritan minister who urged for a Presbyterian church polity.[3] Alongside him was his wife Mary Morgan of the Manston family.[4]

Manton studied at the free school in Tiverton, Devonshire, when he was fourteen. Afterward, he studied at Wadham College, Oxford, in 1635. Yet, for unknown reason, he transferred to Hart Hall, also in Oxford, now Hertford College.* In 1639, he finished his Bachelor of Arts at Oxford. After serving in the ministry for more than a decade, Manton graduated with his Bachelor of Divinity in 1654.[5] Then his Doctor of Divinity on November 19, 1660.

Manton’s father and both grandfathers were all ministers of the gospel. Joseph Hall of Exeter, later of Norwich, ordained Manton to the diaconate ministry in 1640. After several years of pastoral experience, Manton became a lecturer at Stoke Newington, “where his pastorate became a model of consistent, rigorous Calvinism.”[6] He was called to minister at St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, in 1656, after Obadiah Sedgwick’s “failing health forced him to resign.”[7]

In one instance in his preaching ministry, a poor man rebuked Manton for preaching a difficult subject, displaying his knowledge to impress his aristocratic audience. The poor man said, “Sir, I came with earnest desires after the word of God, and hopes of getting some good to my soul, but I was greatly disappointed; for I could not understand a great deal of what you said.”[8] Manton convicted with tears in his eyes, which he replied that he had received a sermon from the poor man. He said,

“Friend, if I did not give you a sermon. You have given me one; and by the grace of God, I will never play the fool to preach before my Lord Mayor in such a manner again.”

Erroll Hulse, Who are the Puritans? (Evangelical Press, 2000), 93.

Furthermore, Manton became one of the appointed chaplains to the Protector Oliver Cromwell in 1657. But during the Restoration of the Monarch in 1660, Manton had sworn his allegiance to the king and became one of the royal chaplains. Despite this service, he was ejected due to his nonconformity, then imprisoned for six months in 1670. Still, Manton received Divine favor during his imprisonment; the keeper was lenient to him, allowing him to conduct his sermons in a large room with guests. In another scenario, the keeper, who had confidence in him, left the keys to him so Manton can go around the town to preach in private, or to just visit a friend.[9]

After his release, in 1672, due to the grant of Indulgence, he continued ministering as a licensed Presbyterian minister at Covent Garden until 1675. Manton died on October 18, 1677; he was buried in the chancel of the church of Stoke Newington. William Bates, Manton’s biographer, preached at his funeral. Bates was also the one who published Manton’s A Practical Exposition of the Lord’s Prayer in 1684.

Manton’s ministry continued to reach other ministers and parishioners through his influence, his friends, students, co-ministers, and especially through his writings. Today, his 22-volume set was reprinted by the Banner of Truth Trust in the Spring of 2020.[10]


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[1] William Bates, “Some Memoirs of the Life and Character of Thomas Manton,” in Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, D.D. 22vols. (1870; repr, Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2020), 1:vii-xxxii.

[2] C. H. Spurgeon, Flowers from a Puritan’s Garden (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1883), v.

[3] Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans: with a Guide to Modern Reprints (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 404-413.

[4] Bates, “Memoirs,” in Manton, Works, 1:ix. This is a common mistake to assume that it was Obadiah Sedgwick’s daughter that Manton married. Beeke and Pederson recorded also that “Manton was Sedgwick’s son-in-law,” but also noted that Manton married Mary Morgan in 1643, Meet the Puritans, 407, 518. Bates argued that Anthony Wood was wrong with this also.

[5] A Bachelor of Divinity is similar to today’s Master of Divinity. Shawn Wright, “Lectures in English Puritanism” (The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, Spring 2020), but the process is different. See also for comparison Mark Dever, Richard Sibbes: Puritanism and Calvinism in Late Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2000), 37-38. Dever noted that Richard Sibbes underwent two public preaching, one in English and another in Latin, plus two defense topics chosen by the panelists.

[6] Beeke and Pederson, Meet the Puritans, 407.

[7] Beeke and Pederson, Meet the Puritans, 516-518.

[8] Bates, “Memoirs,” in Manton, Works, 1:xiii-xiv.

[9] Bates, “Memoirs,” in Manton, Works, 1:xix.

[10] The Works of Thomas Manton, 22 Volumes (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2020).

* Derek Cooper, Thomas Manton: A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Puritan Pastor, Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2011), 32-3.

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Published by JP Arceno

A Mere Christian, no other religion, but Christian church, call me a Catholic Christian ~ Richard Baxter

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