Matthias Evans Manly

Associate Justice - NC Supreme Court

Date Born: April 12, 1801

Date Died: July 9, 1881

Place Born: Chatham County, NC

Place Buried: Cedar Grove
Cemetery in New Bern, NC


Associate Justice 1859-1865

Matthias Evans Manly was born on April 12, 1801 in Chatham County, NC, the son of Basil Manly and Elizabeth (Maultsby) Manly. He received his early education at the Bingham School in Orange County and graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina in 1824. Five years later he received an M.A. degree, and in 1862 the university awarded him the honorary degree of LL.D.

Matthias Evans Manly then tutored mathematics at the University of North Carolina while studying law under his brother, Charles Manly, later Governor of North Carolina. After passing the NC bar, he moved to New Bern and launched his own law firm.

On February 15, 1832, Matthias Evans Manly married Hannah Gaston, daughter of Chief Justice William Joseph Gaston and Hannah (McClure) Gaston; they had two daughters. Hannah died in 1832.

In 1834, Matthias Evans Manly was first elected to represent the town of New Bern in the NC House of Commons of the:
- 59th General Assembly that met from 1834 to 1835
- 60th General Assembly that met in 1835

In 1840, Governor Edward Bishop Dudley appointed Matthias Evans Manly as a Judge on the NC Superior Court, replacing Judge Romulus Mitchell Saunders, who had resigned. When the NC General Assembly met the following year, he was elected to that position, which he held for the next nineteen years.

On June 27, 1844, Matthias Evans Manly married a second time, to Sarah Louisa Simpson, the daughter of Samuel Simpson of New Bern; they had nine children.

In December of 1859, Matthias Evans Manly was elected as an Associate Justice on the NC Supreme Court, replacing Associate Justice Thomas Ruffin, who had recently resigned. He remained on the NC Supreme Court until 1865, when the NC Constitution Convention of that year vacated all existing justices. He was not re-elected as an Associate Justice by the suceeding General Assembly.

Later in 1865, however, Matthias Evans Manly was elected as one of two men to represent Craven County in the NC House of Commons of the:
- 76th General Assembly that met from 1865 to 1866

In 1866, Matthias Evans Manly was elected to represent Craven County in the NC Senate of the:
- 77th General Assembly that met from 1866 to 1867 - elected Speaker of the Senate

At this session, Matthias Evans Manly was elected by the NC General Assembly to the U.S. Senate, winning by a large majority over the incumbent, John H. Pool. But when the state was denied representation in Congress, he was not permitted to take his seat in the U.S. Senate.

Afterwards, Matthias Evans Manly resumed his law practice in New Bern and served as presiding justice of Craven County until the county court system was abolished in 1868. He also became Mayor of New Bern and represented the state as its proxy in the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad (A&NC RR).

In June of 1881, Matthias Evans Manly fell at his residence in New Bern; a month later he suffered a fatal stroke of paralysis and died on July 8, 1881. He was buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in New Bern, NC.

Matthias Evans Manly (1801 – 1881) was a jurist who served as a justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1860 to 1865. He was the brother of North Carolina Governor Charles Manly.

Manly graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (where he would later serve as a Trustee) in 1824. He practiced law in New Bern, North Carolina, was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons for a term, and served as a North Carolina Superior Court judge for approximately twenty years, before being named to the North Carolina Supreme Court. He filled the seat left vacant by Justice Thomas Ruffin's second retirement.

Shortly after resigning from the Court, Manly was elected to the North Carolina Senate, where he served as Speaker. The state legislature elected Manly to the United States Senate, but he was not allowed to take his seat.

Matthias E. Manly was the last of the judges who ascended the bench in antebellum days. He was born in Chatham County in 1800; graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1824; studied law under his brother, Governor Charles Manly at New Bern, NC.

He was a member of the House of Commons from New Bern in 1834-1835, being the last borough representative. The six towns which enjoyed that privelege were Halifax, New Bern, Wilmington, Hillsborough, Fayetteville, and Salisbury. It was abolished by the Constitutional Convention of 1835.

Matthias E. Manly was elected judge of the NC Superior Court in 1840, and, after faithful service of nineteen years, he was chosen to the NC Supreme Court in December of 1859 to fill the vacancy caused by the second retirement of Justice Thomas Ruffin. His office was declared vacant in 1865, and Justice Edwin G. Reade was elected to succeed him.

He was Speaker of the NC State Senate in 1866 and was elected by that Legislature to the United States Senate, jointly with Governor Graham, but they were not allowed to take their seats.

He did in New Bern in 1881 in the 82nd year of his age. His first wife was the daughter of Justice William Gaston.

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