The Olivers

Satellite image of Southwark showing the location of the Olivers and the Marshalls in 1842

YOU ARE HERE: The Wrong Marshall ► 10. The Olivers

9. A supportive family◄ ● ► 11. Alfred’s birthplace

Mary Paley Marshall when writing to Keynes, noted that Alfred’s nephew, William Henry Marshall, 23  when commenting on William and Rebecca’s marriage, indicated that “the Marshall family considered this a mesalliance and she [Rebecca] had to cut herself off from her own family” 20  (Coase 1994, 120). This statement, coming as it does from a family member, does need to be given credence, but it also requires scrutiny.

William Marshall and Edward Oliver, Rebecca’s brother, were not just clerks together at the Bank of England at the time that William and Rebecca married. They in fact spent their entire careers together at the Bank. Edward was a witness at William and Rebecca’s wedding, and, at the time of Alfred’s birth, Edward and his wife Mary 24  were living at Layton’s Buildings, St George’s Parish, Southwark. 25  This location is conveniently 100m inside the Southwark border with Bermondsey, and only 300 metres from where William and Rebecca were living (see next section – Alfred’s birthplace). It seems quite probable that the Marshalls in fact moved from their address at Maismore Square, Peckham, to be closer to the Olivers. It is extremely unlikely that the two families did not keep in contact.

Laytons-Building-Kings-Bench Laytons-Buildings-Southwark
Map showing Layton’s Buildings Layton’s Buildings

There does not appear to be any class based reason as to why Rebecca might have avoided her brother Henry. He was an Inland Revenue officer who lived much of his life in Harwell, now in Oxfordshire, then in Berkshire. There might have been class issues in respect of Rebecca’s remaining two brothers, George and James, who remained in Maidstone, Kent, and were butchers, as their father had been, although George is also recorded as being a victualler.

The financial and social standing of the Oliver family as lower class needs to be questioned. I have already commented on Edward Oliver’s ability to attract sponsorship for his position at the Bank of England from Timothy Curtis. Rebecca’s father, George Oliver, gave his occupation as “butcher”, but he clearly had sufficient property and other assets that he felt it necessary to incur the expense of retaining a solicitor to prepare a will to ensure their proper disposal (G. Oliver 1834). No financial details are provided, but property ownership and the need for a will indicate that his business and social standing were greater than that of a simple village butcher. The fact that his son was a victualler might provide a clue, because, as Coase noted, George had other relatives who were also victuallers (Coase 1994, 121). Victuallers were not publicans as Coase suggested. Those are Licensed Victuallers. Victuallers were suppliers of food to the military and ships. The Olivers would have been commercial meat merchants rather than family butchers.

The Cavalry Barracks in Maidstone would have required meat. A possible commercial contract to provide this supply would help account for George’s ability to acquire property and the connections that could attract sponsorship for his son at the Bank of England. It would also provide another potential link between Rebecca Oliver and William Marshall because the Barrack Master at Maidstone at the time was Dr Richard Marshall, the son of Dr. William Marshall and Dorothy Chadder. Richard Marshall had attended his mother’s 80th birthday in 1822 along with William Marshall, then recently arrived from Mauritius.

George’s sole beneficiary was his wife, Rebecca, who died in 1838, and also felt it necessary to have a solicitor prepare a will for the disposal of her inherited assets. Her two beneficiaries, and the executrixes of her estate, were her daughters, Rebecca and Elizabeth (R. Oliver 1838). Again, no financial details are provided, but it seems probable that Rebecca and Elizabeth received financial benefit from their inheritances. There does not seem to have been any class based reason for Rebecca to have avoided Elizabeth.

9. A supportive family◄ ● ► 11. Alfred’s birthplace

Megan Stevens

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