The Manning Association

Incorporated in 1901 to Preserve the

Manning Manse of North Billerica, Massachusetts


Home The Manse History News Letters Events Store How to Join Our Board Weather at the Manse


Manning Genealogy

Numbers next to names are Indices from Manning Genealogy.

5. Samuel Manning (son of 2. William Manning)
b. July 21, 1644 Cambridge, Mass.; d. Feb. 22, 1711 Billerica, Mass.

m. Elizabeth Stearns Apr. 13, 1664
(b. Watertown, Mass. Date unknown; d. June 24, 1671 Billerica, Mass.)
11. Samuel (b. Circa 1665 Cambridge or Billerica, Mass.)
12. John (b. Aug. 30, 1666 Billerica, Mass.)

m. (second) Abiel Wight May 6, 1673
(b. Jan 1, 1654 Medfield Mass.; d. place and date unknown)
13. Timothy (b. Feb. 4, 1674, Billerica, Mass.)
14. Hannah (b. Mar. 28, 1675, Billerica, Mass.)
15. William (b. June 27, 1677, Billerica, Mass.)
16. Mary (b. Sep. 12, 1679, Billerica, Mass.)
17. Sarah (b. Aug. 26, 1681, Billerica, Mass.)
18. Dorothy (b. June 27, 1683, Billerica, Mass.)
19. Isaac (b. Apr. 15, 1685, Billerica, Mass.)
20. Ephraim (b. Sep. 11, 1686, Billerica, Mass.)
21. Elizabeth (b. Mar. 14, 1690, Billerica, Mass.)
22. Timothy (b. Mar. 4, 1692, Billerica, Mass.)
23. Eliphalet (b. July 28, 1693, Billerica, Mass.)
24. Abiel (b. Dec. 16, 1698, Billerica, Mass.)

The only son of William Manning Jr. to marry and father children, Samuel Manning is perhaps best remembered as the builder of the Manning Manse, home to many generations of Mannings at Billerica, Mass. The Manse is still standing, and in June 1996 the Manning Association celebrated the 300th Anniversary of its construction in 1696.

Samuel Manning (the first of many to bear this name) was born at Cambridge on July 21, 1644. Of his youth, the Manning Genealogy reports one detail: at age eighteen, he and several other teenagers fired their guns off at night, apparently as a prank intended to scare the citizenry into believing they were being attacked by Indians. His arrest and appearance before the court are matters of record, but apparently charges were dismissed, as the court considered the episode no more serious than a "boyish prank". The record also shows that Samuel Manning remained in Cambridge until at least 1664, when he was 20 years old.

On April 13, 1664, he married Elizabeth Stearns, whose father Isaac was among the wealthiest in the Colony. The families were close, and Samuel Manning's sister Hannah married Elizabeth Stearns brother Samuel, raising a large family of their own. Between Hannah and Samuel, William Manning was to have 24 grandchildren. By 1666 Samuel and Elizabeth Manning would establish residence at Billerica, Mass., where the family would remain for almost 200 years.

In those days, European settlement was expanding rapidly westward, and Billerica, astride the Concord River, was at the limit of the Colony's influence. On the West side of the Concord, Indians who had no love for the colonists roamed freely. Samuel Manning first established a home at what is now the center of Billerica, east of the Concord, but shortly relocated to farmland he owned west of the Concord. The Indians, alternately appearing hostile and friendly, were a sufficient threat that the townspeople organized a militia for their protection, designating the homes of various citizens as ammunition storehouses, or as garrison houses, to which townspeople would flee in the event of attack. Every able-bodied male in Billerica was required to serve in the militia, and Samuel held the ranks of Corporal, Sergeant, and finally, in 1699, Ensign. In 1696, Samuel Manning built a large house on his farm to the west of the Concord which would eventually be named Manning Manse.

Samuel Manning was always a farmer, and his effort in reducing what was a wilderness when he arrived to a safe and profitable farm was prodigious. Living essentially among the Indians was risky. The house at Billerica was one of several in the village designated as safe garrisons during Indian raids, and Samuel's near neighbors had family members killed during one of these incidents. He was immensely respected in his community, eventually being elected to nearly every town office which existed. He served both as Selectman and as representative to the General Court. He was able to expand his land holdings many times during his life, and by the time of his death he owned considerable real estate, including both the Billerica property and what remained of his father's original holdings in Cambridge.

The house at Billerica is a wood frame structure, and stands on the south side of the Billerica-Chelmsford Road (Mass. Rte. 129), about a half mile east of exit 29 from U.S. Route 3 (which connects Boston and Lowell). The house faces south, following the style of the period in which it was built, and as a result has its back to the road. It is a two story building with a large central chimney. There are three fireplaces served by this chimney, facing three different ground floor rooms. The fourth side of this chimney is occupied by an elaborate stair leading from the entrance foyer to the second floor. There is a modern wing, extending away from the road, of only one story. The original house measured 41 feet along the road, and 31 feet from front to back. The front is a full two stories tall, with a roof which slopes sharply down to the rear (toward the road), giving the structure a kind of lean-to appearance when seen from the road.

Land in the vicinity of the Manse is known as the Warren H. Manning State Forest. Warren H. Manning was a direct descendant of Samuel Manning. He was born in 1860 at Reading, Mass. In his life he became famous in New England as an authority on botanical topics, and he was a dedicated forester. In 1899 and 1900 he was instrumental in efforts to preserve the Manse, and was a founder of the Manning Association which owns the house today. In 1902 (as of the publication of the Manning Genealogy) he resided at Brookline, Mass.

Samuel's wife Elizabeth bore two children, Samuel (born in 1665, possibly at Billerica or Cambridge), and John (born August 30, 1666, at Billerica). Elizabeth Manning died June 24, 1671, at Billerica. Samuel was remarried to Abiel Wight on May 6, 1673. She bore him an additional 12 children.

Samuel Manning died on February 22, 1710/11 (in those days, the new year didn't start until March 25). He is buried in the old town cemetery in Billerica, and his tombstone may be seen there.

(Photo by Jeffrey Manning, 2011)

The Inscription reads

Ye 22ND , 1710

(click here or on the image to see it enlarged)

Smaller inscriptions, "MEMENTO MORI" at the upper left, and "FUGIT HORA" at the upper right, are Latin and translate as "Remember You Will (or Must) Die" and "The Hour is Fleeting". These inscriptions, together with the death's head and crossed bones are very common on 16th and 17th century Puritan headstones.