Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mant, Richard
MANT, RICHARD (1776–1848), bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore, eldest son and fifth child of Richard Mant, D.D., was born at Southampton on 12 Feb. 1776. His father, the master of King Edward's Grammar School, and afterwards rector of All Saints, Southampton, was the son of Thomas Mant of Havant, Hampshire, who had married a daughter of Joseph Bingham [q. v.] the ecclesiastical archæologist. Mant was educated by his father and at Winchester School, of which he was elected scholar in 1789. In April 1793 he was called on with other scholars to resign, in consequence of some breach of discipline. Not being (as was admitted) personally in fault, he refused, and was deprived of his scholarship. He entered as a commoner at Trinity College, Oxford, in 1793, and in 1794 obtained a scholarship. In 1797 he graduated B.A., and in 1798 was elected to a fellowship at Oriel, which he held to the end of 1804. His essay ‘On Commerce’ (included in ‘Oxford English Prize Essays,’ 1836, 12mo, vol. ii.) obtained the chancellor's prize in 1799. In 1800 he began his long series of poetical publications by verses in memory of his old master at Winchester, Joseph Warton, D.D. He graduated M.A. in 1801, was ordained deacon in 1802, and, after acting as curate to his father, took a travelling tutorship, and was detained in France in 1802–3 during the war. Having been ordained priest in 1803, he became curate in charge (1804) of Buriton, Hampshire. After acting as curate at Crawley, Hampshire (1808), and to his father at Southampton (December 1809), he became vicar of Coggeshall, Essex (1810), where he took pupils. In 1811 he was elected Bampton lecturer, and chose as his topic a vindication of the evangelical character of Anglican preaching against the allegations of methodists. The lectures attracted notice. Manners-Sutton, archbishop of Canterbury, made him his domestic chaplain in 1813, and on going to reside at Lambeth he resigned Coggeshall. In 1815 he was collated to the rectory of St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, and commenced D.D. at Oxford. He was presented in 1818 to the rectory of East Horsley, Surrey, which he held with St. Botolph's.
In February 1820 Mant was nominated by Lord Liverpool for an Irish bishopric. He is said to have been first designed for Waterford and Lismore (though this was not vacant), but was ultimately appointed to Killaloe and Kilfenoragh, and was consecrated at Cashel on 30 April 1820. He at once took up his residence at Clarisford House, bringing English servants with him, a proceeding so unpopular that he soon dismissed them. He voted against Roman catholic emancipation in 1821, and again in 1825. On 22 March 1823 he was translated to Down and Connor, succeeding Nathaniel Alexander, D.D. (d. 22 Oct. 1840), who had been translated to Meath. There was then, as now, no official residence connected with his diocese; Mant fixed his abode at Knocknagoney (Rabbit's Hill), in the parish of Holywood, co. Down, a few miles from Belfast. He had come from a diocese which was largely Roman catholic to a stronghold of protestantism, mainly in its presbyterian form, and he succeeded in doing much for the prosperity of the then established church. Mant was on the royal commission of inquiry into ecclesiastical unions (1830); the publication of its report in July 1831 was followed by considerable efforts of church extension in his diocese. He found Belfast with two episcopal churches, and left it with five. He took an active part in connection with the Down and Connor Church Accommodation Society, formed (19 Dec. 1838) at the suggestion of Thomas Drew, D.D. (d. 1859), which between 1839 and 1843 laid out 32,000l. in aid of sixteen new churches. In 1842, on the death of James Saurin, D.D., bishop of Dromore, that diocese was united to Down and Connor, in accordance with the provisions of the Church Temporalities Act of 1833. The united diocese is a large one, being ‘a sixteenth of all Ireland.’ The last prelate who had held the three sees conjointly was Jeremy Taylor, to whose memory a marble monument, projected by Mant, and with an inscription from his pen, had been placed in 1827 within the cathedral church at Lisburn, co. Antrim.
Mant was an indefatigable writer; the bibliography of his publications occupies over five pages in the British Museum Catalogue. His poetry is chiefly notable for its copiousness. Four of his hymns are included in Lord Selborne's ‘Book of Praise,’ 1863; about twenty others, some being metrical psalms, are found in many hymnals. Many of his hymns were adapted from the Roman breviary. The annotated Bible (1814) prepared by George D'Oyly, D.D. [q. v.], and Mant, at the instance of Archbishop Manners-Sutton, and at the expense of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, was largely a compilation; it still retains considerable popularity. It was followed by an edition of the prayer-book (1820), on a somewhat similar plan, by Mant alone.
His best work is his ‘History of the Church of Ireland’ (1840), the fruit of much research into manuscript as well as printed sources. It was undertaken to meet a want, felt all the more from the conspicuous ability which marked the first two volumes (1833–1837) of Reid's ‘History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.’ No one was so well equipped for the task as Charles Richard Elrington, D.D. [q. v.]; but on his failure, owing to ill-health, to fulfil the design, Mant came forward. His style is very readable, and if his comments are those of a partisan, his facts are usually well arranged and ascertained with care. The earlier church history of Ireland is ignored, and the period immediately preceding the Reformation is treated too much in the manner of a protestant-pamphlet; but the real topic of the book, the post-Reformation annals of the Irish establishment to the union, could hardly have enlisted a more judicious narrator. A copious index by Mant himself adds to the book's value.
Mant was taken ill on 27 Oct. 1848 while staying at the rectory-house, Ballymoney, co. Antrim, and died there on 2 Nov. 1848. He was buried on 7 Nov. in the churchyard of St. James's, Hillsborough, co. Down. He married, on 22 Dec. 1804, Elizabeth Wood (d. 2 April 1846), an orphan, of a Sussex family, and left Walter Bishop Mant [q. v.], another son, and a daughter.
His publications may be thus classified:
- ‘Verses to the Memory of Joseph Warton, D.D.,’ &c., Oxford, 1800, 8vo.
- ‘The Country Curate,’ &c., Oxford, 1804, 8vo.
- ‘A Collection of Miscellaneous Poems,’ &c., Oxford, 1806, 8vo (3 parts).
- ‘The Slave,’ &c., Oxford, 1806, 8vo.
- ‘The Book of Psalms … Metrical Version,’ &c., 1824, 8vo.
- ‘The Holydays of the Church … with … Metrical Sketches,’ &c., 1828–31, 8vo, 2 vols.
- ‘The Gospel Miracles; in a series of Poetical Sketches,’ &c., 1832, 12mo.
- ‘Christmas Carols,’ &c., 1833, 12mo.
- ‘The Happiness of the Blessed,’ &c., 1833, 12mo; 4th ed. 1837; 1870, 8vo.
- ‘The British Months: a Poem, in twelve parts,’ &c., 1835, 8vo, 2 vols.
- ‘Ancient Hymns from the Roman Breviary … added, Original Hymns,’ &c., 1837, 12mo.
- ‘The Sundial of Armoy,’ &c., Dublin, 1847, 16mo. 13. ‘The Matin Bell,’ &c., Oxford, 1848, 16mo.
- ‘The Youthful Christian Soldier … with … Hymns,’ &c., Dublin, 1848, 12mo.
- ‘The Poetical Works of … Thomas Warton … with Memoirs,’ &c., 1802, 8vo.
- ‘Biographical Notices of the Apostles, Evangelists, and other Saints,’ &c., Oxford, 1828, 8vo.
- ‘History of the Church of Ireland,’ &c., 1840, 8vo, 2 vols.
- ‘Puritanism Revived,’ &c., 1808, 8vo.
- ‘A Step in the Temple … Guide to … Church Catechism,’ &c. , 8vo; reprinted, 1840, 12mo.
- ‘An Appeal to the Gospel,’ &c., Oxford, 1812, 8vo (Bampton lecture); 6th edit. 1816, 8vo. (Extracts from this were issued as ‘Two Tracts … of Regeneration and Conversion,’ &c., 1817, 12mo.).
- ‘Sermons,’ &c., Oxford, 1813–15, 8vo, 3 vols.
- ‘Sermons … before the University of Oxford,’ &c., 1816, 8vo (against Socinianism).
- ‘The Truth and the Excellence of the Christian Religion,’ &c., 1819, 12mo.
- ‘The Christian Sabbath,’ &c., 1830, 8vo.
- ‘The Clergyman's Obligations,’ &c., Oxford, 1830, 12mo, 2 parts; 2nd edit. same year (referred to by Newman as ‘a twaddling—so to say—publication’).
- ‘A Letter to … H. H. Milman … Author of a History of the Jews,’ &c., 1830, 8vo.
- ‘A Second Letter,’ &c., 1830, 8vo.
- ‘The Churches of Rome and England compared,’ &c., 1836, 12mo; 1884, 12mo.
- ‘Does the Church of Rome agree with the Church of England in all the Fundamentals?’ &c., Dublin, 1836, 8vo.
- ‘Extemporaneous Prayer,’ &c., Dublin, 1837, 8vo.
- ‘The Church and her Ministers,’ &c., 1838, 8vo.
- ‘Romanism and Holy Scripture,’ &c., new edit. 1839, 12mo; 1868, 16mo.
- ‘Primitive Christianity,’ &c., 1842, 8vo.
- ‘A Churchman's Apology,’ &c., Dublin, 1844, 8vo.
- ‘Horæ Ecclesiasticæ,’ &c., 1845, 16mo.
- ‘Horæ Liturgicæ,’ &c., 1845, 16mo.
- ‘Religio Quotidiana,’ &c., 1846, 8vo.
- ‘Feriæ Anniversariæ,’ &c., 1847, 16mo, 2 vols.
- ‘The Scotch Communion Office,’ &c., Oxford, 1857, 8vo.
- ‘A short Tract for Revivalists,’ &c., 1859, 8vo.
- ‘A Parsing … of some of the Colloquies of Cordery,’ &c., 1801, 12mo.
- ‘Reflections on … Cruelty to Animals,’ &c., 1807, 8vo.
- ‘Church Architecture considered,’ &c., Belfast, 1843, 8vo. Also single sermons, 1813–40, and charges, 1820–42.
[Memoir by Berens, 1849; Memoirs by Walter Bishop Mant, 1857; Biog. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816, p. 220; Ewart's Handbook of the United Diocese of Down, Connor, and Dromore ; Newman's Letters, 1891, i. 218; Julian's Dict. Hymnology, 1892, pp. 713 sq.; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. x. 86.]