Dictionary of Sydney

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Manning, William Patrick

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Manning, William Patrick

William Patrick Manning was born in 1845 at Chippendale, the eldest son of Irish parents John Manning and his wife Mary. He was educated at St Mary's Cathedral School.

The rise of a distinguished businessman

Manning received his business training in the head office of PN Russell & Co, engineers. In 1868, aged 22, he was invited to become manager of the Australian Paper Company. On 8 August 1868 at St Mary's Cathedral he married Honora (Nora) Torpy.

During the 1893 financial crisis, William Manning managed the reconstruction of the Australian Joint Stock Bank and became the Chairman of Directors. He was also a director of MLC Assurance Company Limited and Sun Fire Insurance Office of London. He was the President of the Sydney Philharmonic Society 1891–1914. From 1896 to 1908, he was Director of the Citizens' Life Assurance Company. He acted as Australian investment agent for the English capitalists Lord Rosebery, the Duke of Manchester, Lord Carnarvon and Lord Sherbrooke.

A notable Roman Catholic layman, he was a Fellow of St John's College at the University of Sydney from 1893 until 1915, and papal chamberlain from 1903. He contributed to the building of the new St Mary's Cathedral.

Politics and progress

William Manning was alderman for Bourke Ward from 1 December 1887 to 6 December 1900. He was a member of the Finance Committee, 1899–1900, the Electric Lighting Committee, 1895–1900 and the Disposal of Refuse Committee, 1895–98. He oversaw the remodelling of the Belmore Markets and played a major role in the construction of the Queen Victoria Market Building. He chaired the 1891 Royal Commission into Alleged Chinese Gambling and I mmorality, and was also commissioner on three other occasions. Manning was the Mayor of Sydney from 1891 to 1894.

An advocate of legislative reform and Federation, Manning was elected Member of the Legislative Assembly for South Sydney from 1893 to 1894. He was knighted in 1894.

He died on 20 April 1915 at Woollahra, survived by five sons and three daughters, and was buried at South Head cemetery.


City of Sydney, Aldermen's Files; Photos: CRS 54/2, CRS 54/392, THC 88/333, THC 88/940, NSCA CRS 51/3420, Demolition Books, 1900–1949

Shirley Fitzgerald, Sydney 1842–1992, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1992

AW Martin and P Wardle, Members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, 1856–1901, Australian National University, Canberra, 1959

Society of Australian Genealogists, NC Vol A2 p154, obituary, 25 Feb 1935

Sydney Mail, 30 November 1889

Sydney Morning Herald, 21 April 1915, p 12

John M Ward, 'Manning, Sir William Patrick (1845–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 10, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1986, pp 397–398