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George William Marshall LL.D, FSA 1839-1905

George William Marhall published "Collections for a Genealogical Account of the Family of Comberbach" in 1866. This was the first study of the surname Comberbach. George's mother's maiden surname was Comberbach. Read his biography here.

By Bob Cumberbatch

Biography of George William Marshall

MARSHALL, George William 1839 - 1905, genealogist, born at Ward End House, near Birmingham, on 19 April 1839, and descended from a family settled for several generations at Perlethorpe, Nottinghamshire, was the only child of George Marshall, a Birmingham banker, by his second wife, Eliza Henshaw Comberbach.

Educated privately and at St. Peter's College, Radley, he entered Magdalen College, Cambridge, in 1857, but soon removed to Peterhouse, whence he graduated with the degree of LL.B. in 1861, and proceeded LL.M. in 1864, and LL.D. in 1874. In 1861 he entered the Middle Temple, was called to the bar on 9 June 1865, and for some time practised on the Oxford circuit.

Genealogy was Marshall's lifelong study from his Cambridge days. He collected manuscript materials and published much. His earliest publication was "Collections for a Genealogical Account of the Family of Comberbach" (his mother's family) in 1866. In 1877 he founded 'The Genealogist,' and edited the first seven volumes. For the Harleian Society he edited in 1871 'The Visitations of Nottinghamshire in 1569 and 1614,' and in 1873 'Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights.' He also printed privately in 1878 'The Visitation of Northumberland in 1615,' and in 1882 'The Visitation of Wiltshire in 1623.' His chief work was ' The Genealogist's Guide,' an alphabetical list of all known printed pedigrees (1879; 2nd edition 1885; subsequent editions came out at Guildford in 1893 and 1903). Another valuable work is his 'Handbook to the Ancient Courts of Probate' (1889; 2nd edition 1895).

On the various families bearing the surname of Marshall he printed two volumes entitled 'Miscellanea Marescalliana' (1883-1888). He issued a list of printed parish registers in 1891 and 1893, and a revised list in 1900, with an appendix in 1904. Six Nottinghamshire registers were issued by him between 1887 and 1896, namely those of Perlethorpe, Carburton, Edwinstow, Worksop, Wellow and Ollerton. Other of his works were: 'A Pedigree of the Descendants of Isaac Marshall' (1868); 'Notes on the Surname of Hall' (Exeter, 1887); and 'Collections relating to the Surname of Feather' (Worksop, 1887).

On 30 May 1872 Marshall was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries; and he was one of the founders in 1896 of the Parish Register Society, to the publications of which he contributed.

Rouge Croix York HeraldIn 1887 he was appointed Rouge Croix Pursuivant of Arms and in 1904 was promoted to be York Herald. Several valuable and novel suggestions by him in regard to the entering of pedigrees and additions thereto in the books of the College of Arms were adopted by the chapter. For the college he collected a unique collection of manuscript and printed parish registers. He also presented, either in his lifetime or by bequest on his death, many volumes of manuscripts, abstracts of wills, marriage licences and pedigrees. As a herald he had a great liking for allusive or canting coats-of-arms and crests. A keen truth-seeking antiquary, with an intuitive power of research, he had a lawyer's love of conciseness and accuracy.

In 1891 Marshall purchased the Sarnesfield Court estate in Herefordshire, formerly the seat of the Monington family, and was made J.P. In 1902 he served the office of High Sheriff, and was appointed D.L. He was also a freemason. At Sarnesfield Court he formed a rich library of genealogical and heraldic works and an extensive collection of armorial china.

He died at his London residence, Holmbush, Barnes, on 12 September 1905, and was buried as St. Mary's, Sarnesfield, his tabard as York Herald, with the collar of SS, sword and cap, being placed on his coffin.

Marshall was twice married:

  • (1) at Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey, on 26 September 1867, to Alice Ruth, younger daughter of Ambrose William Hall, sometime rector of Debden, Essex
  • (2) to Caroline Emily, elder sister of his first wife. He left issue six sons and two daughters. There are two portraits of him at Sarnesfield, one as a boy by Poole of Birmingham, and the other by Levine in 1884.

Sources: Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press CD 1995; Its sources: Memoir by J.P.R. (John Paul Rylands) in Genealogist, new ser. xxii. 198-202, with a good portrait of Marshall in his tabard; The Times, 15 and 18 September 1905; Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica, original series, ii. 62-69; Men and Women of the Time, 1899; private information. Contributor: W.G.D.F. published 1912.

George William Marshall's Bookplate

Marshall’s Grant of Arms was dated 2nd April 1867 to both his descendants and those of his uncle, William Marshall.

The blazon:

  • Arms: Barry of six Ermine and Azure a horseshoe Or between three bezants
  • Crest: A bezant charged with a horseshoe Azure between two wings barry of six ermine and azure
  • Motto: “Vi Martiali”

Incidentally, the engraving of the bookplate seems identical to that in various editions of Fox-Davies’ Armorial Families. His children and grandchildren are listed in 1929 as:

1. George Marshall b.1869 m.1898 Constance Marion Baldwin

1.1. George Humphrey Marshall b.1900

1.2. Malcolm Thomas Marshall b.1906

1.3. Christopher Marshall b.1907

1.4. Contance Alice Marshall

2. Rev William Marshall b.1875 m.1912 Margaret Anne Burlton

2.1. Richard Ambrose Marshall b.1920

2.2. Ethel Margaret Marshall

2.3. Joan Elizabeth Marshall

2.4. Physllis Ruth Marshall

2.5. Josephine Penelope Anne Marshall

3. Philip Twells Marshall b.1880 m.1911 Dorothy Jean Lawrie

3.1. Kenneth Philip Marshall b.1912

3.2. Philippa Marshall

4. Thomas Marshall b.1882 m.1921 Margery Leacroft

[Source: Heraldry Online Blog by Stephen J F Plowman TD FSA Scot Visited: 30 Sep 2011]