Charles Manly was born in Charleston, S.C. on May 28, 1837 to Rev. Basil and Sarah (Rudolph) Manly. He graduated from the University of Alabama, A.B, 1855, A.M. 1859. He was licensed to preach by the Tuscaloosa Baptist Church in 1855; was graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1859 and was ordained to the ministry in 1859. He was pastor of churches at Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1859-71, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 1871-73; Staunton, Va., 1873-80, and at Greenville, 1880-81, Belton, 1882-98, Brushy Creek, 1882-86, Rocky Creek, 1882-86, and Seneca, S.C., 1886-98, and became pastor at Lexington, Mo., in 1898.
He was president of Alabama Central Female College at Tuscaloosa, Ala., 1862-64, and 1869-71; president of Union University, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 1871-73; of Furman University, 1881-97; was a teacher in the Patrick Military Institute at Anderson, S.C., 1897-98, and after July 1898, he prepared Sunday-school lesson notes for the Baptist Publication Society. The degree of D.D. was conferred on him by William Jewell College in 1872.
Manly married Mary Ester Helen Matthews on November 16, 1864 and they had seven children. Manly died on May 1, 1924 at the home of a daughter in Gaffney, S.C.