Manly was named by Captain Arthur Phillip for the indigenous people living there, stating that "their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place.
Manly had been envisaged as a seaside resort by Henry Gilbert Smith in the 1850s. In 1853 Smith acquired two large parcels of land (which had been granted to John Thompson in 1842 and John Crane Parker in 1837
Initially John had chartered a paddle steamer to Manly and other vessels visited on an ad hoc "excursion" basis. Smith built a wharf in 1855 and eventually acquired an interest in steamers himself and soon more regular services to Manly had commenced