To the manner/manor born
kathydm
I think I once read somewhere that the original phrase was "to the manor born." A person "to the manor born" was obviously an aristocrat (the manor being the abode of aristocrats).

Does anybody know if that's true?

Lewis Joplin II
TO THE MANNER BORN - "Though I am native here and to the manner born, it is a custom more honored in the breach than in the observance." Hamlet by William Shakespeare. "What Hamlet means is there is more honor in breaking than in observing the custom, which is to drain a goblet of wine in a single gulp when making a toast. He finds his country's reputation for drunkenness embarrassing. The quote is commonly misused to refer to a custom more often ignored than followed." From "Dictionary of Quotations from Shakespeare" selected by Margaret Miner and Hugh Rawson (Penguin Books, New York, published by Signet, 1994).

Terry O Connor
Administrator
I suspect that the "manor" variation gained most of its popularity from a British sitcom called - you guessed it - "To the Manor Born".
Forgotten the actors' names, but the premise was that of a landed gentry-type widow who had to sell her manor to a city nouveau riche-type.
Lord be praisd, they fell in love and she regained the manor.
The sitcom was based on the joke that she was both to the manor and the manner born, while he was neither but he bought her manor and imitated her manner.

Frank Pierce
Terry, I've seen the Britcom here in the States and felt it was worth the watching. But the "Manor" reference certainly predates that. It goes back to my early memories and was in common (mis)usage for years.

My mother-in-law, a genteel old Southern lady, used the phrase frequently. The correct genesis of this phrase came as a surprise to me and to those I told.

AtoZ
1864 is the date to beat!... from

NELLIE NORTON: OR, SOUTHERN SLAVERY AND THE BIBLE. A SCRIPTURAL REFUTATION OF THE PRINCIPAL ARGUMENTS UPON WHICH THE ABOLITIONISTS RELY. A VINDICATION OF SOUTHERN SLAVERY FROM THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS.
BY REV. E. W. WARREN.
MACON, GA.: BURKE, BOYKIN & COMPANY. 1864.

P. 21 'Miss Kate Nelson was the governess in the family of Mr. Thompson. She was "to the manor born," a true Georgian lady.'

Frank Pierce
Can anyone here cite a reference to the correct, Shakespearian usage of the expression other than the original Hamlet reference that Lewis cited above?

This is one of the more fascinating threads.

AtoZ
OED gives "1893 Times 26 Apr. 9/5 Yankee experts to the manner born."
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