We hardly know something about Manoury's life. He lived in Paris. His first name is unknown; before his family name he put the letter C., an abbreviation of citoyen = 'citizen', like everybody else in France. Owing to the fact that many registries were burnt down during the French Revolution (1789), it is impossible to find out something about him personally.
Probably, Manoury was born about 1720. In 1787 he wrote: "About 1750 I was the head waiter of Café de l'Ecole, a coffee house". He did not acquire this position straightforwardly, of course, so we may make the assumption Manoury had reached it after a career in the catering industry. In 1750 he could have been in his 30's. Later he rose in rank and became manager of the Café. Not long after 1787, it passed into other hands.
We can deduce this from a passage in the work of the writer Restif de la Bretonne, who in one of his depictions of Paris called the coffee house Café Robert. I take up a fragment. I walked into Café Robert, formerly called Manouri, and found everybody in an utter state of agitation. A visitor who had lingered over his dinner made a lot of rumpus: he picked a quarrel with any follower of Lafayette, and a half-witted character, an imbecile prig, was so stupid to contradict him, with the consequence that the wrangler almost put him to the sword. With our help the poor man had a narrow escape. In which year Restif wrote these words? Supposedly, we can place the excitement circa 1792. In his function as the commander of the army, marquis de Lafayette got involved in the controversy between the Jacobins and the Girondists. The Jacobins represented a movement that turned against the power of the king, the nobility and the army; the Girondists advocated a democratic government with rights for the individual. In June 1792 supporters of the Jacobins made an attack on the Tuilleries, symbol of king's power. Compelled by his position, Lafayette lodged an official protest. He was accused by the Jacobins: "Lafayette intends to settle a military dictatorship!" In August he fled to Austria.
Directly after his portrayal of the quarrel in Café Robert, Restif wrote the following. In the evening of the 31st, Parisians crowded before the door of Café Robert-Manouri. I was totally surprised to see two attractive young women yelling patriotic slogans; everybody admired them, apart from some aristocrats who loudly shouted: "They have been paid to yell!" It is sound, I believe, to date this street row on July 31, 1792. Restif had said earlier that formerly, in former days, not recently, the coffee house was called Café Manouri. Therefore we may safely determine that Manoury retired soon after the publication of his second book in 1787. We don't know for which reason. Because of his age? Was he expired? Anyway, in 1807 he was dead for quite a time. In this year Alphonse A. Everat, a Parisian publisher, chairman of the Société Philantropique, mentioned Manoury's name in his foreword of a draughts book; he remembered Manoury as an amiable old man.
In its 1864 edition, “Le Palamède français”, a chess journal, published the tale of an anonymus about famous Frenchmen who were fond of draughts. One of them was Georges Jacques Danton, Manoury's son-in-law, as the author supposed. In 1785, Danton settled in Paris as a lawyer. He often played dominoes in Hotel de la Modestie, but like many of his colleagues he was a regular visitor of Café de l´Ecole. The Revolution drove Danton to the pinnacles of the power. In 1792, he became Minister of Justice in the Provisional Government. He also was a member of the National Convention, the Representative Body of the People after the abolition of the monarchy; Danton had voted for the decapitation of Louis XVI. But the Convention was a heterogeneous company, with factions who were after each other's blood, and Danton met with the same faith as the king, through the act of Maximilien Robespierre, who eliminated everyone he considered as his enemy [J.F.E. Robinet, “Danton. Mémoire sur sa vie privée”, 1865]. "Danton", the unknown wrote in 1864, "was married with Manoury's daughter". Hundred years later Maurice Nicolas, a French draughts player, discovered that this information was wrong -luckily for father Manoury-, referring to the book “Danton”, written in 1932 by Louis Barthou [Het Damspel 1961:72-3]. It is true, in 1787 Danton married the daughter of a coffee house keeper at Place de l'Ecole, but the name of this wife was Antoinette-Gabrielle Charpentier and her father's coffee house stood at the corner of Rue de L’Ecole and Quai de l’Ecole.
Manoury had two books published (1770 and 1787), containing combinations without author's name, as usual in this time. But his second book had texts too, a report of a search to the origin of Polish draughts. In years past, a chess or draughts book was only printed after subscription, because of the financial risk; the names of the subscribers were included. It is remarkable that Manoury worked without subscription, obviously his books were in demand. For us it is a disadvantage: we have to do without print number and the names of the subscribers.