About the Hampton-Manning Family
Millford was built by John Laurence Manning (1816-1889), son of Elizabeth Peyre Richardson and Governor Richard I. Manning of South Carolina. John L. Manning was later Governor himself, and he married Susan Frances Hampton (1816-1845), a daughter of Gen. Wade Hampton, who was reputed to have been the richest man in the South. Millford is built on land inherited by John Manning from his maternal Richardson grandparents, but it seems likely that most of the funds to build such a grand residence (sometimes called “Manning’s Folly”) would have come from Susan Hampton’s inheritance from her father. Susan and John Laurence Manning were only 22 years of age when they embarked on building what was certainly the grandest residence in the State.
John Manning attended Princeton College but left when his father fell ill; he graduated from South Carolina College (now University of South Carolina) in 1836. A planter by trade, Manning served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1842-1846 and in the South Carolina Senate from 1846-1852, just prior to becoming governor. During the War Between the States, John Manning was a colonel on the staff of General P.G.T. Beauregard at Fort Sumter and at the Battle of Manassas in Virginia. In 1860 he signed the Ordinance of Secession and in 1865 was elected to the US Senate, but was denied his seat. He and Susan had three children together, although Susan died of complications when giving birth to their third child. Several years later in 1848, John married Sally Bland Clarke of Virginia. They had four children together.
How did Millford survive the Civil War? The answer: a miracle. On what turned out to be the final day of the War before Lee’s surrender, Northern troops, under the command of Brig. General Edward Elmer Potter, arrived at Millford. Gov. Manning met the Yankee General at the front door and observed: “Well, the house was built by a Potter (Nathaniel Potter, the architect) and it looks as though it will be destroyed by a Potter.” General Potter responded: “No, you are protected. Nathaniel Potter was my brother.”
Although their fortune was destroyed by the Civil War, the Mannings managed to hold on to Millford until 1902 when it was sold to Mary Clark Thompson of New York, who later bequeathed it to her two Clark nephews. The Clarks owned and loved Millford for the next 90 years, enjoying it as a winter residence with ample opportunities for hunting and fishing. The Clarks sold the mansion and 400 acres to Richard Hampton Jenrette in 1992, but they still retain several thousand acres of timberland in the vicinity.