Many old friends there were or Many old friends were there. If I put "there" at the beginning then this would be: There were many old friends, but if I put "Many" as the first word, I start to get confused.

I don't know why, but somehow I'm not sure which of these two is correct [:^)] I know that for example if you put "only" at the beginning of the sentence, then there is some inversion further in the sentence.
**Many old friends there were [would not use it

Many old friends were there [there=in that place
There were many old friends (around) [There IS NOT in that place here, but it shows existence
If you intend to mean 'There were many old friends' (= many old friends existed), then neither alternative sentence is acceptable.
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So, the correct one would be: I went to Tom's place and saw that many of my old friends were there (instead of "there were"). Right?
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