Thomas Manning was born on November 8th, 1772. He was the second son of the Reverend William Manning. He was the second son of the Reverend William Manning. He developed a liking to classics and mathematics. He went to Caius College, Cambridge studying mathematics, where he published a 1796 work on algenra and a smaller book on arithmetic. However, his strong repugnance to tests denied him from academic honors. He did not finish his degree.

He is the first Englishman to have visited Lhasa and to have seen the Dalai Lama. Thomas Manning was an Englishman who visited Lhasa in 1811 and his notes were published in the famous account: "Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa." Manning jotted down his first impressions, day by day, in a rough notebook, which were eventually recopied by his sister. By the time he visited Tibet, there was a solid relationship between the governments of British India and Tibet created first by George Bogle (See "Bogle" entry). Manning had a paralytic stroke in 1838 and that same year he moved to Bath, where he died on May 2, 1840.

In one of his most notable portions of his journal, Manning describes his visit with the Grand Lama on December 17, 1811. He describes his palace or potata as against a mountainside. In order to get to the Dalai Lama, he had to climb approximately four hundred steps. Manning was only able to speak to the Grand Lama through a translator who he describes as unlearned, strange and melancholy. When Manning was able to see the Dalai Lama, they exchanged gifts. At this time, the Grand Lama was just seven years old, merely a boy. He is described as having a beautiful, poetic face and figure while containing all the simple and unaffected manners of a well-educated princely child. Manning was denied his request for books with any material regarding the Tibetan religion and traditions. Manning was so affected by this visit that he wrote what he calls a memorandum when he arrived back home.

Other sections of his diary contain different stories of his daily encounters. One includes the story of a Tibetan lama stabbed to death by a Chinaman who the lama did not allow to cross a river. In revenge, the lamas stoned the Chinaman to death. Troubles with the Chinese and Tibetan relations arose of this issue. in other accounts, Manning acted as physician for the sick or dealt with financial burdens.

Thomas Manning. Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa. In Clements R Markham. George Bogle; Thomas Manning. London, Trübner and Co., 1876. 263-292