Mant, Richard (1776–1848), Church of Ireland bishop of Down, Connor, and Dromore, was born 12 February 1776 at Southampton, the eldest son of Richard Mant DD (1745–1817), rector of All Saints’ church, Southampton, and his wife, Elizabeth (1745/6–1826), daughter of Richard Roe of Romsey, Hampshire. He had four older and four younger sisters, and either one or two brothers. He was taught by his father until 1789, when he became a scholar on the foundation at Winchester College; Mant showed intellectual promise, but was unfairly deprived of the scholarship after other boys behaved badly. He entered Trinity College, Oxford, as a commoner in 1793, receiving a scholarship a year later. He graduated BA (1797), MA (1800), and BD and DD (1815); in 1798 he was elected to a fellowship at Oriel College, where his essay ‘On commerce’ won the chancellor's prize in 1799.
In 1802 Brownlow North, the bishop of Winchester, ordained Mant deacon and for a short time he served as his father's curate. He then set off for Switzerland to take up a post as tutor to a younger man, but was detained in France when war broke out again (May 1803). Upon his return in 1803 he was ordained priest by John Randolf, bishop of Oxford, and a year later he became curate of Buriton, Hampshire. After serving as curate at Crawley, Hampshire (1808–9) and again with his father at All Saints’ (1809–10), he became vicar of Great Coggeshall, Essex, where he also tutored students. In 1811 he attracted considerable attention for his Bampton lectures at Oxford, in which he defended evangelical anglicanism against methodism. Charles Manners-Sutton, the archbishop of Canterbury, appointed Mant his domestic chaplain in 1813, at which time he resigned his living in Essex, and two years later he received further preferment, becoming rector of the important parish of St Botolph without Bishopsgate, London, with the additional rectory of East Horsley, Surrey, from 1818.
Mant's preaching greatly impressed Lord Liverpool, who nominated him to the united see of Killaloe and Kilfenora in 1820. Upon his arrival in Ireland, Mant reminded his clergy of their ordination vow to eradicate religious error, and urged them to greater proselytising efforts to convert Roman catholics. Resenting Mant's militant tone and unpopular decision to hire English servants at his residence, disgruntled catholics showed signs of unrest, and even threatened an attack on the bishop's house. Mant fled with his family to England, a move that brought the censure of his superiors. To prevent continuing difficulties, in 1823 the government transferred him to the united see of Down and Connor in the presbyterian north. Mant worked energetically for the interests of his own church. He sat on the royal commission of inquiry into ecclesiastical unions (1830), a body whose recommendations led to considerable church building in his dioceses. In 1842, on the death of James Saurin, Mant also became bishop of Dromore, thereby holding three sees jointly, and presiding over a sixteenth of all Ireland.
Mant was an inveterate author: the titles alone of his many sermons, tracts, and pamphlets occupy four columns in the Gentleman's Magazine of 1849, though possibly even that list was incomplete, as a contemporary complained that his works were too numerous to list. In 1802 he published an edition of the poetical works of his friend the former poet laureate Thomas Warton, adding an account of Warton's life to the volume; at the behest of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and with the help of George D'Oyly, he published an annotated Bible in 1814 (and frequently reprinted), followed by an annotated Book of Common Prayer in 1820. Mant composed many hymns; some were included in Lord Selbourne's Book of praise, while a few became familiar in Hymns ancient and modern. His versifications of the Psalms, like most of his other hymns, were characterised by ‘the defects that usually mark works produced in haste, in a life crowded with conflicting duties and erring in excess of literary production’ (J. Miller, 1866). His best-known work in prose was his two-volume History of the Church of Ireland (1840), a well-researched effort, though avowedly partisan, which sketched the history of the established church in Ireland from the late fourteenth century until the turn of the nineteenth. The simpliciad: a satirico-dramatic poem, containing hints for Wordsworth (1809), though published anonymously and with an uncharacteristic lightness of touch, was Mant's work; it was one of the first parodies of the Lake poets, and annoyed both Wordsworth and Robert Southey.
Mant married, 22 December 1804, Elizabeth (d. 1846), a daughter of William Woods of Childham, Sussex; they had three sons and one daughter. Their eldest son, Walter Bishop Mant (1807–69), was archdeacon of Down (1834–69) and, following his father's example, produced a number of religious and antiquarian works. While staying with his niece's family at the rectory in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, Mant contracted typhoid erysipelas, and died there 2 November 1848. He was buried five days later in the churchyard of St James's, Hillsborough, Co. Down.