Topic: William George Nicholas Manley (1831-1901)

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On the eve of the Battle of Gate Pā at Pukehinahina on 29 April 1864, British officers gathered for dinner at The Elms. Assistant Surgeon William George Nicholas Manley (1831-1901) was the only one of them to survive the following day's battle. He is also the only recipient of both the Victoria Cross (VC) and the Iron Cross. Researched and written by Debbie McCauley.

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William George Nicholas Manley was born in Dublin, Ireland, on 17 December 1831. He was the second son of Reverend William Nicholas Manley. His mother was Elizabeth Browne, a daughter of Dr. Brown of the Army Medical Staff.

He was educated at the Blackheath Proprietary School. Manley developed an interest in surgery and became a member of The Royal College of Surgeons in England in 1852. In 1854 Manley joined the Army Medical Staff, and was attached to the Royal Regiment of Artillery serving in Crimea from 11 June 1855. He was present at the siege and fall of Sebastopol during the Crimean War, and was granted the medal with clasp and the Turkish medal. He was later posted with his regiment to New Zealand during the New Zealand Wars.

Manley was part of the storming party into Gate Pā. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for attending to Commander Edward Hay (1835-1864) as he was carried away mortally wounded and for then returning to the pā to search for more wounded.

He was the only officer of those that gathered for dinner at the Elms the night before the Battle of Gate Pā to survive. Manley Grove is a Tauranga street was named after him.

Manley was present under the commnd of Sir Trevor Chute at the assault and capture of the Okotukoo, Putahi, Otapawa, and Waikohou Palis, and for his services he was again mentioned in despatches and promoted to the rank of staff surgeon. For rescuing from drowning a gunner of the royal artillery who had fallen overboard whilst disembarking from a steamer on the Waitotara river, he received the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society.

He married Maria Elizabeth Darton on 9 February 1869 at Sheerness, Kent, England . Maria's father was Thomas Hartwood Darton, of Temple Dinsley, Hertfordshire.

The children of William and Maria Manley:

  1. William George Henry Manley (1869-1940). Born at Woolwich, London, England on 23 December 1869. He became a Lieutenant-Colonel. William died at Cheltenham on 7 September 1940.
  2. Reginald Harwood Manley (1870-1945). Born at Woolwich, London, England on 9 December 1870. He married Evelyn S. Middleton. Reginald died in the Channel Islands on 17 December 1945.
  3. Lilian Frances Manley (1872-?). Born at Woolwich, London, England in 1872.
  4. Georgia Frances Ithell Manley (1873-1961). Born at Woolwich, London, England in March 1873. She married Henry Archibald Colebrooke Colquhoun (1870-1942), in Assam, India, in 1905. Henry was assistant to the political agent in Manipur. Georgia died in 1961.
  5. Edgar Norman Manley (1874-?). Born at Woolwich, London, England on 27 July 1874. 
  6. George Errington Drummond Manley (1876-1901). Born at Woolwich, London, England on 9 January 1876. He died during the Boxer War in Chin Kiang,China on 22 April 1901.
  7. John Charles Medland Manley (1883-?). Born at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England on 2 March 1883. 
  8. Edward Lovell Manley (1886-?). Born at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England on 29 June 1886.

When the Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870, Manley was placed in charge of the B division of the British ambulance corps, which was attached to the 22nd division of the Prussian army. He was present at several engagements, and afterwards received the German steel war medal and the Bavarian order of merit. William I, the German Emperor, at the request of the Crown Prince, decorated him with the second class of the iron cross for his conduct in seeking for the wounded of the 22nd division in the actions of Chateauneuf and Bretoncelle on 18 and 21 November and the battles of Orleans and Cravant on 10 December 1870. He marched with the division between 200 and 300 miles during the severe winter of November and December.

Manley was also present at the siege of Paris and on the declaration of the armistice he went into the city with supplies for the hospitals. For his attention to wounded Frenchmen he received the cross of the Societe de Secours aux Blesses. 

In 1877 Manley moved to Cheltenham, purchasing 1 Hatherley Place. His wife Maria lived there during his sometimes lengthy periods of service overseas.

He served with the Quetta field force in the Afghan war of 1878-9, and was present at the occupation of Kandahar, receiving the thanks of the viceroy and the medal. Manley was principal medical officer under Sir Edward Hamley during the war in Egypt of 1882, and was present at the battle of Tel-el-Kebir.

Manley was promoted to the rank of deputy surgeon-general, and retired from the army in 1884 with the honorary rank of surgeon-general, being made C.B. in 1894. In 1896 he was granted a distinguished service pension. On his retirement the family moved to 3 Lansdown Terrace in Cheltenham.

He died from diabetes at Lansdown Terrace, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, on 16 November 1901 and was buried in Cheltenham Cemetery on 20 November 1901. 


  • 1855 Crimea Medal
  • 1864 Victoria Cross
  • 1871 Prussia Iron Cross
  • 1871 German Empire Commemorative Medal of 1870-71
  • 1871 Kingdom of Bavaria Military Merit Order
  • 1879 Afghanistan Medal
  • 1880s Ottoman Empire Order of Osmanieh (third class)
  • 1880s Khedivate of Egypt Khedive's Star
  • 1882 Egypt Medal and clasps
  • 1894 Companion of the Order of the Bath



Cenotaph Database.

Commemorative Plaques Of Cheltenham.

Descendants of William Manley V.C.

Genealogy Page.

McCauley, Debbie (5 August 2011). Identity and the Battle of Gate Pa (Pukehinahina), 29 April 1864 (Tauranga Memories: Battle of Gate Pa, 1864 kete).
This page archived at Perma CC in March of 2017: 

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William George Nicholas Manley (1831-1901)

First Names:William George Nicholas
Last Name:Manley
Date of Birth:17 December 1831
Place of Birth:Dublin
Country of birth:Ireland
Date of death:16 November 1901
Place of death:Lansdown Terrace, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Place of burial:Cheltenham Cemetery
Spouses name:Maria Elizabeth Darton
Spouses date of birth:23 May 1843
Spouses place of birth:England
Spouses date of death:3 May 1913
Date of marriage:9 February 1869
Place of marriage:Sheerness, Kent, England
Fathers name:Reverend William Nicholas Manley
Fathers date of birth:25 November 1799
Fathers place of birth:Cork, Ireland
Fathers date of death:10 June 1832
Fathers place of death:St Peters, Dublin, Ireland
Mothers name:Elizabeth Browne
Mothers date of birth:1802
Mothers place of birth:Dublin, Ireland
Name of sibilings:Elizabeth Manley (1827-?), John Thomas Manley (1830-1901), and Frances Anne Manley (1829-1884)
Name of the children:George Errington Drummond Manley, John Charles Medland Manley, Edward Lovell Manley, William George Henry Manley, Reginald Harwood Manley, Lilian Frances Manley, Georgia Frances Ithell (Manley) Colquhoun, and Edgar Norman Manley
Military Service:New Zealand Wars and Victoria Cross