General Manliffe Francis
Clara, County Offaly, Ireland
In the English Channel aboard the Sussex, -


Manliffe Goodbody was the eleventh of the thirteen children of Marcus Goodbody and Hannah Woodcock Goodbody (née Perry). His parents, both of whom came from a Quaker background, had married each other on 13 December 1848 in the Friends’ Meeting House in Monkstown, County Dublin. The marriage of Marcus Goodbody and Hannah Perry brought together two members of two of the richest and most powerful families in County Offaly (then known as King’s County). The Goodbodys and Perrys had contributed significantly to economic growth in the midlands of Ireland in past decades and would continue to do so on into the twentieth century, not least through the offspring of Marcus and Hannah Goodbody.

Manliffe Goodbody’s twelve siblings were: Robert Goodbody (1850-1911); Hannah Perry (1851-1936); James Perry, known as Perry (1853-1923); Margaret Elizabeth (1854-1931); Marcus (1856-1923); Henry Perry (1858-1922); Alice (1860-1939); Albert (1861-1921); Henrietta (1863-1927); William Woodcock (1866-1908); Francis Woodcock (1870-1938); and Arthur Edward (1873-1944).

Like several of his brothers, Manliffe Goodbody attended Trinity College, Dublin, which he also represented at lawn tennis. He subsequently became a businessman. Manliffe Goodbody married Margarita Howat Mathieson (1884-1972) on 22 November 1904 in Saint George’s Church, Camden Hill, London. They had two children together: Kenneth Manliffe (1905-1985) and Sheila Margarita (1910-2000). The family lived principally in London.

From The Goodbodys: The Story of an Irish Quaker Family 1630-1950, by Michael Goodbody

There was a strong competitive streak in the Obelisk Park family, most evident when it came to sport. Trinity College provided many opportunities for young men: Robert and Perry had played cricket and were members of the University Hurley Club, Robert winning a silver ‘Championship belt’ in 1870. Hurling, where there were few restraints – especially before the formal rules were set out in 1887 – could be quite a vicious game and it is related that Perry once hit a ball so hard that he laid out another player who was making a nuisance of himself by continuously playing offside.

Most of the boys were athletic, particularly Manliffe and Willie, who used their time at university to become expert at tennis, joining the recently-formed Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club. The two brothers played together for the university at the Irish Championships held in May 1887 and again, two years later, at the Midland Counties Championships tournament held at Birr. On this occasion Manliffe beat the holder Toler R. Garvey in the men’s singles Challenge Round, so was champion for 1889-90. He was also the runner-up in the gents’ open handicap singles event, causing quite a stir in the district as it came to be realised they had a player of some note among them. Although tennis was where he excelled, there is little doubt that he was a good all-round sportsman as he was also playing international soccer, being fielded by Ireland as a ‘full back’ in 1889.

At this point Manliffe’s tennis career took off as he started to play for Ireland on the international circuit, principally in London and the United States. At the time the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club had some of the world’s top players who included Harold Mahony, Manliffe and his distant cousin, Joshua Pim, who became a Wimbledon champion, these young men representing Ireland in the world’s principal tennis tournaments. Willie’s tennis days were curtailed by a particularly severe bout of typhoid fever so he turned instead to billiards, later becoming an expert amateur player, and he also put his energies into his new business career on the stock exchange.

Manliffe played at Wimbledon in the All England Championships from 1893 to 1897, although with mixed results, whereas in the Kent Open tournament in 1894 and 1987 he won the men’s singles event. His performances in the U.S. National Championships between 1893 and 1895 attracted considerable press coverage and a comment that his visit in the latter year ‘had done much to infuse new life into the sport on this side of the ocean,’ more so than any event for many years previously. This was praise indeed and reflected his exceptional playing in 1894, when he entered five separate tournaments during July and August, winning seventeen out of twenty-two matches against acknowledged expert players. He was only narrowly defeated in the Challenge Round of the men’s singles event at the U.S. National Championships, when he was up against Robert D. Wrenn, the reigning champion.

At the time Manliffe was ranked eighth in the list of British players, although this was raised to three by the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association at the end of the 1894 season. He was modest about his achievements and, before leaving for home, was quoted as saying that, although the Irish players were some of the best, if they thought they could ‘carry all before them’ in the United States, they would be underrating their opponents – an intuitive view on his part for by the following year the American players had improved their game and the visitors were soundly beaten.

With so much time spent on the tennis court something had to give in Manliffe’s life and, in all probability, it was his work. He had already decided on a career as a grain merchant but the centre of trading was London, not Dublin, so he moved there in January 1893, when he was taken on by Michael Hill, a corn broker with an existing business at 41 Seething Lane, who may have handled the Goodbodys’ dealings on the Baltic Exchange. In any event it was decided to set Manliffe up with his own firm and an agreement was reached with Hill who rolled his business into a new company called ‘Michael Hill & Goodbody Ltd.’

The company had capital of £11,000, of which Manliffe put up £10,000, and the rest was subscribed by other members of the family, including Perry, who was chairman and still acting as Manliffe’s trustee, and Michael Hill. Unusually for a Goodbody company, as they generally did not involve outsiders, there were two other shareholders, Frank Poff, the mill accountant, and a Clara shopkeeper called Robert Mullins. Presumably the idea was for Manliffe to take over the business as he became more experienced, since he was to get sixty per cent of the net profits, with the rest going to Michael Hill. It did not work out like that, however, and it may be that Hill became fed up with Manliffe’s absences on the tennis circuit, so it is not altogether surprising that the company was put into voluntary liquidation a few years later.

By now the Goodbodys were also dealing with Harris Brothers, who had handled James Bannatyne’s grain transaction for years and were one of the older-established firms on the Baltic Exchange. Probably at the instigation of Perry, Manliffe joined them as a partner and worked for the firm until he died in 1916. When he first went to London he had a flat just off Shaftesbury Avenue, in the heart of London’s West End, from which he would ride his bicycle to work in the City wearing a silk top hat and with his coat tails flying in the breeze behind him. Harold stayed with him there during a visit to London and observed that this was then ‘the only proper garb for a businessman.’ He also believed that Manliffe was a good businessman but ‘had an incurable taste for private speculation in all sorts of things which kept him always in trouble,’ Perry having to extricate him on a number of occasions.

Manliffe’s mother must have had concerns about his activities and lifestyle, for when he fell in love with and married the 20-year-old daughter of a South American merchant banker in 1904, she presented him with a bible which her aunt, Sally Woodcock, had given her on her own wedding day 56 years before, enigmatically adding the inscription ’24 Joshua, 15th verse.’ Her interpretation of ‘And if it seem evil unto you to the serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,’ is a matter for conjecture now but it could be that Hannah considered he was straying too far from his Quaker upbringing, living and working as he was among the London city merchants and traders.

Later on Manliffe turned his attention to horses, entering one called ‘Beau Sabreur’ in the International Horse Show at Olympia in 1911, when he won a prize for the ‘Novice Harness Horse’. He entered it again in 1914 and in the intervening years at Hackny, Richmond and Croydon, although it was then shown in the joint names of himself and his brother Francis. This interest may have led to Manliffe’s final speculation – a deal involving British members of parliament, the French government and 40,000 horses.

In November 1914 the war with Germany was well under way and the French desperately needed horses to replace the large numbers killed in action. Manliffe and his Harris Brothers partner, Cyril Bennett, had a source of supply through an American by the name of Wallach and had created an informal syndicate to act as his agent, consisting of themselves and Philip Runciman, a partner in Walter Runciman & Co., who operated from the same offices at 24 Mary Axe in the City of London. The Runcimans were large ship owners and would provide the transport, but the problem from their point of view was that Sir Walter Runciman, the founder and head of the firm, was a member of parliament and his son Walter was in the British cabinet as President of the Board of Trade. They therefore wanted to keep their name out of any arrangement – a vain hope in the light of the subsequent case in the High Court of London.

Manliffe and Philip Runciman were introduced to the French army generals, who were in charge of procurement, by a London stockbroker and a certain alexander Ferguson, who was ‘in the business of obtaining international contracts.’ The French then insisted that the deal should be introduced to them by a Frenchman ‘of high business standing,’ so a further party was introduced into the proceedings, a Belgian horse breeder who, of course, also wanted a cut. There were now so many people involved, all wanting payment for their time and trouble that the commissions involved were getting on for ten per cent of the purchase price of £2,000,000.

In the end the French government, who were up against budgetary constraints because of the high cost of the war, pulled out and the deal fell through, but Ferguson still asked for his commission, which he claimed had been agreed at £20,000. He sued the syndicate in the High Court in March 1916 but, after a hearing lasting four days, his case against Manliffe Goodbody, Walter Runciman and Cyril Bennett was dismissed.

The day after judgement was handed down Manliffe and another of his partners in Harris Brothers, Walter Lamarque, sailed for France on business, although the nature of this is not known. They were passengers on a French-owned steamer, the Sussex, and crossing between Newhaven and Dieppe when a German submarine (U-boat 29) torpedoed them, as its captain believed that the people crowding the decks were troops on their way to the Front. The ship, which was carrying 300 passengers, was badly damaged, but still afloat, and was towed to Boulogne where Manliffe and Walter Lamarque were discovered dead in their cabin, having been killed by the blast.

The incident marked a turning point in the war as the U.S. President, Woodrow Wilson, warned the Germans that he would sever relations between the two countries if they continued to sink non-military vessels, and it eventually brought the Americans on to the allies’ side.

A memorial service was held for Manliffe Goodbody and Walter Lamarque at Saint Andrew Undershaft Church, Saint Mary Axe, in the City of London the following week, and a stained glass window was subsequently erected in their memory by members of the Baltic Exchange. At the time of his death Manliffe Goodbody was an Inspector of Special Constabulary for the Marlborough Street Division of the London Force, who were in attendance at the memorial service.

Manliffe Goodbody’s unexpected death left Margarita Goodbody a widow with two children to bring up. There was great concern among her family that she would not have enough to live on until it was discovered that Manliffe had a sizeable holding of shares in Marconi’s Wireless Telegraph Company, which had benefited from the war and were now a valuable asset which could be used to support Margarita Goodbody.

The connection with Guglielmo Marconi started back in the 1890s when the young Italian inventor arrived in England to look for backers to develop his system of wireless telegraphy, one which his own country was not prepared to take seriously. Little did the Italians realise that they were passing up the opportunity to claim ownership of one of the greatest scientific achievements of all time, as it would eventually revolutionise world communications and impact on the lives of everyone. On the other side of the coin, the Goodbodys, who did take an interest, did so as a speculative investment, probably having little idea how far their capital would help to launch an invention with such far-reaching consequences.


Archive statistics 1886 - 1908

Tournament wins 1897 - French Covered Court Championships (Amateur)
1897 - Blackheath (Amateur)
1896 - French Covered Court Championships (Amateur)
1896 - Kent Championships (Open)
1893 - North of Ireland Championships (Amateur)
1893 - Craigside (Amateur)
1893 - County Dublin Championships (Amateur)
1892 - Cheltenham (Amateur)
1892 - King's County and Ormonde Tournament (Amateur)
1892 - Craigside (Amateur)
1891 - Teignmouth and Shaldon (Amateur)
1891 - Craigside (Amateur)
1890 - North of Ireland Championships (Amateur)
1890 - Buxton (Amateur)
1890 - Northumberland Championships (Amateur)
1889 - North of Ireland Championships (Amateur)
1887 - Dublin University LT Championships (Amateur)

Tournaments Monte Carlo - 1908 Monte Carlo - 1903 French Covered Court Championships - 1902 Wimbledon - 1897 Queens Club Tournament - 1897 French Covered Court Championships - 1897 Kent Championships - 1897 Wimbledon Plate (Consolation) - 1897 Blackheath - 1897 Wimbledon - 1896 Irish Championships - 1896 French Covered Court Championships - 1896 Kent Championships - 1896 Dinard - 1896 Homburg Cup - 1896 Baden-Baden - 1896 British Covered Court Championships - 1896 Wimbledon Plate (Consolation) - 1896 Tuxedo Tournament - 1896 Fitzwilliam Plate - 1896 Fitzwilliam Purse - 1896 Wimbledon - 1895 Queens Club Tournament - 1895 Dinard - 1895 Narragansett - 1895 Wimbledon - 1894 US Open - 1894 Longwood Bowl - 1894 Queens Club Tournament - 1894 Kent Championships - 1894 Southampton Invitation (Long Island) - 1894 Narragansett - 1894 County Dublin Championships - 1894 Morton - 1894 Norwood Park Lawn Tennis Cup - 1894 Wimbledon - 1893 Irish Championships - 1893 South of England Championships - 1893 British Covered Court Championships - 1893 Exmouth - 1893 East of England Championships - 1893 Craigside - 1893 County Dublin Championships - 1893 North of Ireland Championships - 1893 Irish Championships - 1892 Kent Championships - 1892 Cheltenham - 1892 Northumberland Championships - 1892 Northern Lawn Tennis Association Tournament - 1892 Craigside - 1892 King's County and Ormonde Tournament - 1892 County Dublin Championships - 1892 Fitzwilliam Purse - 1892 Wimbledon - 1891 Irish Championships - 1891 Sussex Championships - 1891 North of England Championships - 1891 Championships of Wales - 1891 Midland Counties Championships - 1891 Northumberland Championships - 1891 British Covered Court Championships - 1891 Exmouth - 1891 Teignmouth and Shaldon - 1891 Craigside - 1891 County Dublin Championships - 1891 Fitzwilliam Club Championships - 1891 North of Ireland Championships - 1891 Wimbledon - 1890 Irish Championships - 1890 Cheltenham - 1890 North of England Championships - 1890 West of England Championships - 1890 Northumberland Championships - 1890 Exmouth - 1890 Northern Lawn Tennis Association Tournament - 1890 Buxton - 1890 Dublin University LT Championships - 1890 County Dublin Championships - 1890 Fitzwilliam Club Championships - 1890 North of Ireland Championships - 1890 Wimbledon - 1889 Irish Championships - 1889 County Dublin Championships - 1889 Fitzwilliam Club Championships - 1889 North of Ireland Championships - 1889 Lansdowne LTC championships - 1889 Irish Championships - 1888 Waterford - 1888 County Dublin Championships - 1888 East of Ireland Championships - 1888 Irish Championships - 1887 Dublin University LT Championships - 1887 County Dublin Championships - 1887 East of Ireland Championships - 1887 Fitzwilliam Purse - 1887 Dublin University LT Championships - 1886 Killiney and Ballybrack LT amateur Championships - 1886

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