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John McManners CBE FBA
Portrait John McManners.jpg
Born (1916-12-25)25 December 1916
Ferryhill, County Durham, England
Died 4 November 2006(2006-11-04) (aged 89)
Oxford, England
Other names Jack McManners
Occupation Historian, Professor, Chaplain
Religion Church of England
Spouse(s) Sarah Carruthers Errington
Children Hugh, Peter, Ann, Helen
Parents Joseph and Ann McManners

John "Jack" McManners CBE FBA (25 December 1916 – 4 November 2006) was a British clergyman and historian of religion who specialized in the history of the Church and other aspects of religious life in 18th century France. He was Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Oxford from 1972 to 1984. He then served as Fellow and Chaplain of All Souls College, Oxford from 1964 to 2001.

Birth and early education[edit]

McManners, known as Jack to his family and friends, was born in Ferryhill, County Durham to Joseph and Ann McManners. His mother was a school teacher who converted his coal miner father to the Anglican faith. His father entered the priesthood, eventually becoming the vicar of Ferryhill and subsequently a canon of Durham Cathedral. McManners attended Spennymoor grammar school before winning an exhibition to St Edmund Hall, Oxford in 1936. While at Oxford he took a First in Modern History in 1939.

Military service[edit]

In September 1939 Great Britain entered World War II prompting McManners to volunteer for military service. He served with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, and was commissioned soon after enlisting. McManners served in the Western Desert Campaign and was at the Siege of Tobruk. He also served with the 210 British Liaison Unit (Greek Mission) in Alexandreia to help prepare Greece for restoration of constitutional government.

Ordination and early teaching career[edit]

While in the military McManners decided to follow his father's vocation and become ordained into the Church of England. He studied at St Chad's College, Durham and was ordained as a deacon in 1947 and a priest in 1948. He first served as curate of Leeds Parish Church for 10 months. Then, in 1948, invited back to his alma mater to be the Chaplain and lecture in History.

In 1951 he married Sarah Errington whom he met while at St Chad's College, Durham. They had two sons, Hugh and Peter, and two daughters, Ann and Helen. Both his wife and children survived him.

In 1956 he accepted the chair of History at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, Australia. He remained for four years before moving to the University of Sydney as the chair of History from 1960-1965.

Return to England[edit]

He returned to England and Oxford University from 1965-1966 to be a Senior Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. Following Oxford he served as a professor in history at the University of Leicester. In 1972 McManners was appointed to the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History and returned to teach at Oxford and serve in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford until his retirement from teaching in 1984. He was invited at All Souls College as the chaplain and became a fellow at the college in 1986. It was not until 2001, due to health concerns, that he resigned as chaplain after which he was elected to an honorary fellowship.

Published works[edit]

In 1960 McManners's first book, French Ecclesiastical Society Under the Ancient Regime; a Study of Angers in the Eighteenth Century, was published helping to establish him as a respected scholar of French history. It was a detailed examination of church life on a local level in a small provincial city. The study of common society contrasted with most of the works of the time that only concentrated on the upper class.[1]

While at Leicester he published French revolution and the church and Church and State in France, 1870-1914.

He won the 1982 Wolfson History Prize for Death and the Enlightenment. In a 1986 review Joseph Tempesta of Ithaca College describes it as "extensively researched" and he strongly recommends it as it "brings the era to life".[2] It was also was "hailed by The Times as one of the ten best non-fiction books of the year".[1]

McManners was the general editor of the Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity that was published in 1990. It was a best seller with excellent scholarly standards.[3]

The two volume Church and Society in Eighteenth-century France published in 1998 "represents an enormous achievement" as reported by Raymond Mentzer of Montana State University.[4] It is two volumes, more than 1600 pages of text documenting four generations of pre-revolutionary France and the culmination of more than 50 years of research.

In 2002 McManners published the autobiographical Fusilier: Recollections and Reflections, 1939-1945 documenting his experiences during the war.

His final book, All Souls and the Shipley Case 1808-1810 documented an early 19th-century sex scandal at All Souls College. When doing unrelated research McManners found a sealed packet of letters that became the basis for this book.[1]

Select bibliography[edit]

  • French Ecclesiastical Society Under the Ancient Regime; a Study of Angers in the Eighteenth Century (1960)
  • Lectures on European History, 1789-1914 (1966)
  • French revolution and the church (1970)
  • Church and State in France, 1870-1914 (1972)
  • Death and the Enlightenment: Changing Attitudes to Death among Christians and Unbelievers in Eighteenth-Century France (1981)
  • Oxford Illustrated History of Christianity (1990) editor
  • Church and Society in Eighteenth-century France (1998)
  • The Oxford History of Christianity (2002)
  • Fusilier: Recollections and Reflections 1939-1945 (2002)
  • All Souls and the Shipley Case 1808-1810 (2002)

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b c The Times, 2006, p. 54
  2. ^ Tempesta, 1986, p. 181-182
  3. ^ Briggs, 2006, p. 44
  4. ^ Mentzer, 2000, p. 437


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