University Officers

Sir William Montagu Manning KCMG

Sir William Montagu Manning KCMG, barrister and politician, was a Fellow of Senate of the University of Sydney from 1861 to 1895. During his membership of Senate he was Chancellor between 1878 and 1895).


(1811 - 1895)
Fellow of Senate 1861 - 1895, including election by Senate as
– Chancellor 1878 - 1895

His education

William Montagu Manning attended University College, London where he graduated LLD.

His career

Manning was admitted to the London bar in 1832. He arrived in Sydney in 1837 and was appointed as a magistrate and later, Chairman of the Quarter Sessions. He was Commissioner of the Courts of Requests in 1841-43 and became Solicitor-General in 1844.

In 1848-49, he was a member of the Supreme Court bench, presiding in the Equity Division. In 1851, Manning was nominated to the Legislative Council by Governor Fitzroy. After the dissolution of the Council in 1856, he was elected to that body that same year and was appointed Attorney-General.

In 1857, he was made Queens Counsel and he travelled to England where the following year he received a knighthood. Manning returned to Sydney 1859 and advised Governor Denison on the arrangements for Queensland’s separation.

As well as maintaining a significant legal practice, Manning served as Attorney-General in several government administrations during the 1860s. In 1876 Manning became a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court.


William Montague Manning in 1856, photo, The Sydney Mail, 16 May 1906, Google News Archive.


Sir William Montagu Manning KCMG, 1858; Artist Sir John Watson Gordon (1788-1864), oil on canvas; Donated by Public Subscription; (University Art Collection, reproduced with the permission of the University of Sydney).


Sir William Montague Manning KCMG, wood-engraving from the 'Australian Town and Country Journal', 26 April 1890, NLA Newspapers.


Sir William Montague Manning KCMG in 1894, photo G3_224_1424, University of Sydney Archives.


Sir William Montague Manning KCMG, photo from the 'Australian Town and Country Journal', 1 October 1902, National Library of Australia.

His membership of Senate

Manning was appointed to the University Senate in 1861. In 1878, he was elected Chancellor, a position he held until his death in 1895. During his long and productive stewardship, he presided over the expansion in the University’s teaching, including the introduction of the professional schools of medicine, law and engineering. He steered the University through the legal complexities of the substantial Challis Bequest, made in 1881, and successfully fought for the endowment of the University by the government when the Depression of the 1890s was at its height.

The admission of women to the University in 1881 owes a great deal to the initiative of Manning. He was also deeply committed to a liberal education, claiming that ‘the teachings of the faculty of Arts are the very essence of University education and the chief source of culture’. Manning House and Manning Road commemorate his name.

The biographical notes on the Chancellors contain information derived from a variety of sources including: Australia’s First: A History of the University of Sydney; University News; University of Sydney Archives; Lawlink NSW: Law and History


Sir William Montague Manning KCMG in Chancellor's robes, image from the 'Australian Town and Country Journal', 21 April 1888, NLA Newspapers.