McManus, Terence Bellew (1810–61), nationalist, was born in Tempo, Co. Fermanagh, eldest among three children of Philip McManus (d. 1836), land agent and judge of the local manor court, and Alice Bellew (d. 1850), a member of a wealthy catholic family from Co. Louth. When Terence was a young boy, a decline in his father's fortunes forced the family to move to a cottage in Sheemullaghmore, Co. Monaghan, where he attended Urbleshanny chapel school and was also tutored in the classics and mathematics by his maternal uncle, Dean Patrick Bellew of the catholic diocese of Clogher. Around 1830 he began an apprenticeship with a draper in Monaghan town, and for the next five years supported his family. In 1836, together with his friend Charles Gavan Duffy (qv), he moved to Dublin, where he worked as a shop assistant and later as a successful commercial traveller for a large Scottish clothing firm. Around 1840 he moved to Manchester, where he failed to establish himself in business, before moving to Liverpool in August 1842, settling at 31 Islington Road. Shortly afterwards he founded a successful firm that exported wool from Lancashire and Yorkshire mills to Ireland. He became very wealthy, earning possibly as much as £1,500 a year, although his wealth was reduced greatly around 1846 as a result of investing in unsuccessful railway companies.
Since 1842 he had attended repeal meetings in Liverpool frequently and nationalist meetings in Ireland occasionally, and by 1845 was an ardent supporter of Young Ireland. He was at the inaugural meeting of the ‘82 Club in Dublin (16 April 1845); its members occasionally travelled to England thereafter to meet McManus at his new home in Seacombe, Cheshire. In May 1846 he was part of an ‘82 Club delegation that travelled to London to visit William Smith O'Brien (qv) who was in custody at Westminster for contempt of the house of commons. A handsome, highly sociable, and practical-minded man, during 1847 he established several Confederate clubs in Liverpool and was elected to the council of the Irish Confederation. After the arrest of John Mitchel (qv) (13 May 1848), McManus travelled to Dublin to confer with Gavan Duffy and Fr John Kenyon (qv) regarding the possibility of a rebellion. He suggested a raid on the arms depot at Chester castle and the seizure of a couple of steamers at Liverpool to transport arms to Ireland, but his proposal was refused and he returned to Liverpool disappointed.
After the arrest and imprisonment of Duffy (9 July 1848), McManus returned to Dublin again. When the government suspended habeas corpus (25 July), he fled to Templemore, Co. Tipperary, where he met Smith O'Brien, and together with James Stephens (qv), drilled groups of men and took part in the skirmish at Ballingarry (29 July). On 18 August, in his absence, he was adjudged bankrupt in Liverpool, and five days later was indicted for treasonable conspiracy by the grand jury of Liverpool, prompting him to flee to America. On 30 August he boarded the N. D. Chase in Cobh harbour, bound for Boston, but shortly after its departure the ship was called back to port, where police officers identified and arrested him. He was detained in Richmond prison until 18 September, and taken to Clonmel to stand trial (9–12 October). Convicted of high treason, on 23 October he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. On 5 June 1849 a delegation led by the lord mayor of Dublin presented a petition with 150,000 signatures to the lord lieutenant, calling for the death sentence against O'Brien, McManus, and the other Confederate rebels to be withdrawn. Their sentences were commuted to transportation for life; they left Dublin on 9 July 1849 and arrived in Van Diemen's Land on 27 October.
After initial hesitation, McManus accepted a ticket-of-leave on 31 October 1849, which allowed him the right to limited travel around the island. He moved to New Norfolk, where he lived until May 1850 before moving to Launceston. On 24 December 1850 his ticket-of-leave was revoked after he had travelled out of his assigned police district to visit Smith O'Brien, and thereafter he was interned at Cascades prison camp, where he had to perform hard labour in a chain gang. In early 1851 friends employed a solicitor to challenge the legality of the revoking of his ticket-of-leave, and on 21 February the local supreme court judged that it should be restored to him. The prison authorities sought to appeal the ruling immediately; but before this could be done, friends had already provided McManus with an escape route, securing him passage on the Elizabeth Thompson bound for California, which arrived in San Francisco on 5 June 1851.
On his arrival, three large demonstrations were held for him by local government officials, generals, judges, and senators, who praised the example of the 1848 rebels in Ireland and called for the American government to appeal for the release of the other Irish convicts in Van Diemen's Land. Demonstrations were also held in McManus's honour in New Orleans, Louisiana, Boston, Massachusetts, New York city, and subsequently at the Rotunda, Dublin. Although these events played a significant role in the development of a vocal Irish-American nationalist community, McManus did not remain politically active. Instead he concentrated on running a mercantile store and shipping agent business in San Francisco. These were not very successful, and in 1853 he purchased a ranch of 160 acres in San Jose, California, for cattle grazing. This was not particularly successful either, prompting him during 1857 to consider moving to Australia to join his old friend Duffy. Instead he returned to San Francisco, where he worked as a customs official. In late 1858 and again in early 1860 he wrote to the Irish press, refusing to support a movement to demand his pardon, and stating that he was opposed to making any appeal to a British government.
After suffering an accident, he died in St Mary's hospital, San Francisco, on 15 January 1861 at the age of 50 and was buried in Lone Mountain cemetery the following day. Members of the Hibernian Society of San Francisco, who had been his pallbearers, set up a public fund for the erection of a monument over his grave. In March 1861 the Hibernians were persuaded by local Fenians to exhume McManus's body and bury him in Ireland instead; subsequently the Fenians took complete control of the McManus monument fund. The body was exhumed on 19 August, a second funeral mass was held, and a procession of a few thousand people followed the coffin to San Francisco harbour. It was brought to New York by steamship, via Panama, where the archbishop of New York celebrated a solemn high mass (16 September) and another large Irish-American nationalist procession took place in his honour (18 October). On 19 October the coffin was brought by steamship to Cobh harbour, and on its arrival (30 October) the American consulate at Cobh lowered its flag to half-mast. The coffin was brought to Cork, but was not allowed to rest in the city's cathedral because the bishop of Cork, William Delany (qv), opposed McManus's politics; consequently it had to be returned to Cobh cathedral. On 3 November the coffin was conveyed to Cork railway station, followed by a procession of 8,000 people, and taken to Dublin, where it rested in the Mechanics’ Institute owing to the refusal of the archbishop of Dublin, Paul Cullen (qv), to allow it to lie in the pro-cathedral.
As it was well known that Fenian revolutionaries were behind the funeral events, the Irish catholic hierarchy and most surviving prominent Young Irelanders were opposed to these demonstrations, the latter making several vain attempts to win control over the proceedings. On 10 November a huge funeral procession, watched by tens of thousands of people, took place from the Mechanics’ Institute to Glasnevin cemetery, where an American Fenian, Captain Smith, delivered a graveside oration (written by James Stephens) and McManus was finally laid to rest. The McManus funeral in Dublin was one of the largest political funerals ever held in the Irish capital and played a large part in boosting Fenian self-confidence and in making the separatist aspirations of the Fenians popularly known. In the later nineteenth century the IRB-controlled National Monuments Committee collected funds for a 17-ft-high (5.2 m), three-figure monument in white marble to be placed over McManus's plot, where three IRB men had since been buried alongside him. The monument was built by 1895, but the Catholic Cemeteries Committee refused to allow it to be erected in Glasnevin until 1933 because its inscription was considered too politically controversial.