James Ernest Mangnall is one of the more famous Mangnalls. He was born in Belmont, Bolton in 1866, the son of Joseph Mangnall (GM133) and Anne (GM134). The 1871 Census shows Ernest living with his father Joseph who was a joiner, his mother Ann, and his younger sister Augusta, at 39 Bamber Street in Great Bolton. At the time of the 1881 census he was living with his parents and his sister Augusta (FM109) at 45 Coe Street in Great Bolton.

He was educated at Bolton Grammar School where he played inside right for the school football team and then for the Old Boys. He was a keen cyclist, and in his youth he cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats. At some point he played goal keeper for Lancashire County football team.

Ernest was a keen supporter of Bolton Wanderers and became their director and then secretary. He moved to become the secretary at Burnley on the 27th December 1899 (see Jacob Skals web page) where he was appreciated for his skills in spotting talented players. Burnely were struggling at the time and they were relegated to the second division after losing 0-4 at Nottingham Forest on 28th April 1900. At the time of the 1901 census he was visiting Albert and Mary List at Kestor Street in Bolton. I’ve no idea what his connection with the family was.

On 30th September 1903 Ernest became secretary of Manchester United, the team had been Newton Heath but it nearly went bankrupt reforming as Manchester United. He was responsible for the team during the building of the Old Trafford ground. The story goes that shortly after the team moved into the new ground at Old Trafford in 1910, the stand at the old ground blew down in a gale.

in 1907 he led the club to their first ever League title, beating Aston Villa by 9 points. He then followed that up with the club’s first FA Cup (beating Bristol City 1-0). He then won the title for the second time in 1911 – again beating Aston Villa into second place, but this time by only one point.

On 20th August 1912, Ernest moved across the city to Maine Road to become the manager at Manchester City. His last game in charge of Manchester United was against City when it was already known that he was to become their manager! (United lost 1-0) He stayed there for 12 years (second only in terms of service to Wilf Wild). Although no silverware came his way during his time with Manchester City, he steadied the the club and gave it strong foundations. He remained until 1924.

The players presented Ernest with an 18ct gold cased pocket watch made in Birmingham in 1922, the inside of the case inscribed:

Presented to J.E. Magnall Esq By the Players of Manchester City F.C., To Mark The Respect and Esteem They Had for Him During His Term of Office as Secretary & Manager 1912-1924, May 3rd 1924

The back of the case was inscribed with his initials.

Ernest Magnall is the only manager to date who has managed both Manchester United and Manchester City.

Ernest married Eliza Sharpe Hobson on the 12th July 1906 at the Parish Church in South Shore, Blackpool.

1906 Marriage solemnized at the Parish Church in the Parish
of South Shore in the County of Lancaster
No. Where married Name and surname Age Condition Rank or Profession Residence at the time of marriage
Father’s Name and Surname
Rank or Profession of Father
392 July



James Ernest
36 Bachelor Secretary 13 Hill Street Joseph Mangnall (decd) Builder
Eliza Sharpe Hobson 29 Spinster 13 Hill Street Thomas Hobson (Decd) Estate Agent
Married in the Parish Church according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church after Banns by me,
This Marriage
was solemnized
between us
James Ernest Mangnall

Eliza Sharpe Hobson

in the
of us
Bernard Hobson

Mary Anne Hobson

Fred H Powell


Ernest and Eliza had the following children:

  • Ernest, born in 1908, died 1960
  • Doreen Isabella, born in 1910 and died in 1953

Ernest died in January 1932.

When and
where died
Name and
Cause of death
Signature, description and residence of informant
Signature of
January 1932
3 Osborne
St Annes on
the Sea U.D.
Football Club
I.A.Cerebral embolism
II.Arterio Sclerosis
Certified by
L O’Brien M.B.
E Mangnall
present at the death
3 Osborne Road
St Annes on the Sea
Robert J.

He was buried on 16 January 1932 at Lytham Park Cemetery and Crematorium, Lytham Saint Annes in plot A512C. Probate shows that Ernest had been living at 3 Osborne Road in St Annes-on-Sea and that he left £9497 5s. 11d. to Eliza and to his son Ernest who was working as an “assistant company manager”.

[Last updated 23 Dec 2021]