Before the 19th century, Manthorpe parish was agricultural and known as Little Gonerby cum Manthorpe. It was located just to the north of Grantham on the Grantham to Lincoln road which followed what is now Low Road, across the river behind Swallow’s Mill, through Belton Park and along the old route to the Roman town of Ancaster on the Ermine Street Roman Road.
In 1810 the Brownlow family, owners of Belton Park and House just north of Manthorpe, built a new road from Grantham to Belton. In the 1840s and 1850s new houses, a church and school were built, and established properties renovated.
The Church of England parish church is dedicated to St John the Evangelist. It was built in 1847-48, to the design of architect G. G. Place of Nottingham. It was built as an estate church by the Brownlow family to provide for Belton Estate workers.
In 1885 Kelly's Directory described Manthorpe as "a small and pleasant village". It was an ecclesiastical district, established in 1849 from the civil parish of Grantham. The village formed a township with Little Gonerby, was within the Grantham parliamentary borough, the rural deanery of North Grantham, and the archdeaconry and Diocese of Lincoln....The church, graveyard and parsonage sites were provided by Earl Brownlow, who also paid for the construction of the parsonage....The parish register dates from 1849, with earlier records for Manthorpe included in Grantham registers.
....Chief crops grown were wheat, barley, oats and turnips, in a township area of 1,228 acres (5 km2) that included Little Gonerby. In 1881 the ecclesiastical district contained a population of 243, and the Manthorpe cum Little Gonerby township: 3,567. An infant school for 50 children, with an average attendance of 30, was erected in 1865 through the financial support of Earl Brownlow. Township occupations included four farmers, two cowkeepers, a grazier, a wheelwright, three shopkeepers, and a miller at Manthorpe Mill, a watermill.
In the early 20th century, houses began to be connected to electricity, with others supplied by a village pump or their own well. Eventually the Brownlow estate connected water and electricity to all households.
By the late 1940s there were approximately a dozen houses west of Manthorpe Road, but there was still a geographical division between it and Grantham. During the 1950s and 1960s houses were built west of Manthorpe Road and on the side of the River Witham. In the 1960s Grantham became conjoined to the village after Manthorpe housing estate was built on the north side of the town. When the 6th Lord Brownlow died in 1978 further land became available, and most cottages in Manthorpe village were sold.
Lincolnshire is very low-lying and land had to be drained for agriculture to be successful. The larger drainage channels, many of which are parallel to each other, became boundaries between parishes. Many parishes are long and thin for this reason.
There is much fenland in Lincolnshire, particularly in the Boston and Horncastle areas. Fenlands tended to be extraparochial before the mid 1850s, and although many sections were identified with names and given the title "civil parish", little information has been found about them. Many appear to be abolished in 1906, but the parish which adopts them is not given in A Vision of Britain through Time. Note the WR category Lincolnshire Fenland Settlements which is an attempt to organize them into one list.
From 1889 until 1974 Lincolnshire was divided into three administrative counties: Parts of Holland, Parts of Kesteven and Parts of Lindsey. These formal names do not fit with modern grammatical usage, but that is what they were, nonetheless. In 1974 the northern section of Lindsey, along with the East Riding of Yorkshire, became the short-lived county of Humberside. In 1996 Humberside was abolished and the area previously in Lincolnshire was made into the two "unitary authorities" of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. The remainder of Lincolnshire was divided into "non-metropolitan districts" or "district municipalities" in 1974. Towns, villages and parishes are all listed under Lincolnshire, but the present-day districts are also given so that places in this large county can more easily be located and linked to their wider neighbourhoods. See the WR placepage Lincolnshire, England and the smaller divisions for further explanation.