Thomas Manton

Thomas Manton (1620-1677) was a Puritan clergyman.

Born at Lydeard St Lawrence, Somerset, Manton was educated locally and then at Hart Hall, Oxford where he graduated BA in 1639. Joseph Hall, bishop of Norwich, ordained him deacon the following year: he never took priest's orders, holding that he was properly ordained to the ministerial office. He was then appointed town lecturer of Collumpton in Devon. In the winter of 1644–1645, he was appointed to preach at St Mary's Church in the parish of Stoke Newington in Middlesex, where in 1646 he was joined by Alexander Popham as the parish's ruling elder and began to build a reputation as a forthright and popular defender of Reformed principles. This led to his participation in several key events, such as the Westminster Assembly and confession publication, and his being asked to preach before Parliament on several occasions in 1647-8. He was one of Oliver Cromwell's chaplains and a trier.

After ten years in Middlesex, he was appointed to the living of St Paul's, Covent Garden. Again he became very popular and continued to exercise a wide influence on public affairs, calling for the restoration of Charles II in 1660. For his part in this he was offered the Deanery of Rochester by the new monarch, but he refused on conscience grounds. He had disapproved of the execution of Charles I. In 1658, he had assisted Richard Baxter to draw up the Fundamentals of Religion.

The Act of Uniformity 1662 saw Manton resign his living with many other Puritans in protest at this attack on their Reformed principles. Despite his lack of patronage, he continued to preach and write even when imprisoned for refusing to cooperate (1670).

Although Manton is little known now, in his day he was held in as much esteem as men like John Owen. He was best known for his skilled expository preaching, and was a favourite of John Charles Ryle, who championed his republication in the mid-19th century. His finest work is probably his Exposition of James.

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