While researching our paper, The Wrong Marshall, Megan met Tim Benthall on an online forum. This was fortunate as Tim has provided us with a lot of invaluable information and a number of family documents that we could not have obtained otherwise. Our favourite is what we call “The Analogue Photograph“. This was a document signed by all the descendants of Dorothy Marshall (neé Chadder), the wife of Dr. William Marshall, who were present at her 80th birthday function on 29 August 1822, before the invention of cameras. We both enjoyed working with him.
Tim was working on a book about his Benthall ancestors that is now complete and has been published. PORTRAITS of a MERCHANT FAMILY is an elegant and impressive book in coffee table format available on Amazon:
Benthall Hall is a National Trust property in Shropshire. It contains about 70 portraits that depict eight generations of a single family, together with their many relatives. The two portraits on the front cover are of William Bentall and Dr. William Marshall. They met in Devon and became friends in around 1760, one a young merchant and the other a medical student. They remained friends for life, and became the patriarchs of that large extended family. Their children and grandchildren intermarried, and in the 19th century this clan exemplified the importance of “incest and influence” in maintaining a successful merchant class (as engagingly described by the anthropologist Adam Kuper in his book of that title). Its most successful members sometimes brushed with greatness, becoming entrepreneurs or civil servants in the British government and its colonies. Several others lived colourful but less respectable lives. The author draws on public and private documents to bring this family to life and show how, for better or worse, they lived through the political and social developments of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Any net profits from sales of the book will be donated to the National Trust.
The Author Notes state:
T. P. Benthall was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) in West Bengal and educated in England. After graduating from Cambridge University with a degree in Mathematics, he spent over fifty years working with computers, as an operations research analyst, management consultant and executive at a computer software company, before being coaxed into becoming a genealogist and amateur social historian.
Whilst the book is primarily about the Benthall family, it is also a wonderful source of pithy information about the Marshall, the Adams, the Drake and the other families who joined together to further their own joint interests. It is meticulously researched and presented and definitely a must read for anyone with an interest in these families.
The book is previewed here on the Amazon US site. If you wish to buy it, you will need to find it on your local Amazon site.
Alfred Marshall and his favourite uncle, Charles Henry Marshall.
Megan has been researching her Marshall ancestors for many years. As part of this research, she came upon Essays on Economics and Economists by Professor Ronald Coase. Ronald Coase was a Nobel Prize winning economist who had written two essays on the family background of the well-known Cambridge economist, Professor Alfred Marshall. These essays contained a lot of information about other members of the Marshall family as well, including Megan’s great-great-grandfather, Charles Henry Marshall and his parents and siblings.
Coase’s research did not present the family in a flattering light, but it filled in a number of holes in the story that Megan had managed to uncover by that time. Megan knew that Charles had been a successful squatter on the Darling Downs of Queensland, but had no idea of how or why he had moved to Queensland or of how he had acquired the capital that allowed him to buy Glengallan station.
Coase offered an explanation. He described a meeting on the Turon goldfields in 1851 between Charles and Nehemiah Bartley who had published a book about his travels around Australia. Coase described how Charles had misrepresented his family background to Bartley by claiming to be the son of the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England, whereas his connection to the Bank of England was via his brother, who was a mere clerk at the Bank. From this episode, Coase then built a narrative of a deceitful and self-aggrandising family that permeated all aspects of his essays.
Whilst this was disappointing, the incident still needed to be explored. Was this where Charles had made his money? What was Charles doing there? Why had he gone? When had he gone? This exploration began almost exactly three years ago when Megan started looking through the old newspapers and family records. This is when the Coase narrative began to unravel.
A letter written by Charles to his aunt made it clear that as a grazier on the Darling Downs, he was struggling to cope with the loss of labour to the diggings rather than having gone to the diggings himself. The newspapers had no record of a Charles or even a C. Marshall on the goldfields, but did have a record of an F. Marshall. Newspaper articles and the Bank of England records showed that the Chief Cashier at that time was indeed a Marshall. A Matthew Marshall. No relative. So there was a real possibility that Nehemiah Bartley had met someone other than Charles.
After a lot more digging, Megan then found the clincher. Death notices in Sydney and London showed that a Francis Marshall had died in Sydney and that he was the son of Matthew Marshall of the Bank of England. Further investigation put this beyond any doubt. Shipping records showed that Charles was travelling between Brisbane and Sydney at the time that Bartley had met “Marshall” at Turon. Bartley had met Francis Marshall. Coase had found The Wrong Marshall. Charles had not lied about his position.
We then decided to look into all of Coase’s other claims. This was a lot of work and involved visiting archives and libraries in Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, Brisbane, and Cambridge, UK, and having documents copied at The National Archives in London. It also involved examining a multitude of family sources and this is where we fortuitously made contact with Tim Benthall whose family is extensively connected to the Marshalls. He provided us with access to a number of very valuable Benthall family documents without which our research would have struggled in some key areas. The National Library of Australia’s TROVE service was also invaluable and this research would not have been possible without it. Coase’s narrative unravelled even more. I won’t describe all the details, they are in the paper, but I will say that this research proved that much of what Coase had written about the Marshalls was wrong.
The public record was also wrong. Coase’s work had been used by a number of other authors, so his erroneous descriptions of the family had spread far and wide. The definitive biography of Alfred Marshall, A Soaring Eagle: Alfred Marshall 1842-1924, by Professor Peter Groenewegen repeated Coase’s errors. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography had even been amended to reflect Coase’s and Groenewegen’s view. What to do about this? We decided that because of the standing of Coase and Groenewegen, we would need to have a meticulously researched and presented rebuttal published in a peer reviewed journal.
This was our next great journey. Compiling all the information we had uncovered into a cogent and engaging narrative which dealt with the list of misconceptions was a challenge. Many, many drafts ensued. A long and complicated ramble was progressively reorganised into a coherent structure. The words pared back to essentials. We then circulated the draft to a number of very helpful reviewers with experience of publishing professional papers. More refining and structuring ensued. And some more. We were encouraged to submit the paper to History of Political Economy as the pre-eminent journal in this field. This we did. With trepidation.
Surprise and relief. They liked the paper, but wanted an extensive rewrite. It had to be significantly shortened, but at the same time its scope expanded to include a critique of Peter Groenewegen’s book. The editor commented that he had not previously seen a paper with as many references as ours. So, many more weeks trimming and paring and rephrasing. But we did it. The rewrite was accepted in late 2018. Whew! Then the wait.
At last. In December 2019, we began to engage in the typesetting and proof editing. And now we have the final product. Our paper, The Wrong Marshall: Notes on the Marshall family in response to biographies of the economist, Alfred Marshall was published by History of Political Economy in its April 2020 issue, just out. We have also prepared an extended version for family historians with photographs, maps and copies of family and archival reference documents many of which would not otherwise be available to readers. It also includes further research that was not ready for the published paper.
The published paper and our extended article can be found HERE
A dinner party was held in the Glengallan homestead on 16 September 2017 to celebrate the homestead’s 150th anniversary. Megan was invited to speak on behalf of the Marshall descendants and present an overview of the family. This is a transcript of her speech.
Thank you for asking me to speak about my great-great-grandparents, Charles and Charlotte Marshall. It is good to be here, near where the “old house” stood, where my great-grandmother was born in 1859.
Charles and Charlotte were children of the expansion of the British Empire, with close ties to Totnes in Devon.
Charles was born in 1818 at Mauritius, where his father, William, was joint chief of police. William was born in Devon in 1780, and had gone to sea, aged 14, with the East India Company. When he married Louisa Bentall at Totnes in 1810, he joined the Army, and was posted to the Cape of Good Hope, and then Mauritius.
After a failed venture, William returned to England, alone, in 1822, but the family’s fortunes worsened the following March, when Louisa died at Mauritius, aged 39, probably during the cholera pandemic. The children re-joined their father in Scotland a year later.
Four years later, William died suddenly, and the Devon families rallied to care for the orphans. His probate poignantly recorded the children’s election of their uncle, John Bentall, as guardian of their inheritance, which secured their futures.
Charles was a mariner at Totnes by 1841, though details are scant. The only mention I have is of Charles working as third mate on board the Princess Charlotte in 1839.
He became bookkeeper for the Van Diemen’s Land (VDL) Company at Stanley in 1843, a position obtained through his father’s cousin, Edward Marshall of the War Office, a director of that Company. The Tenantry Return for that year uniquely described Charles as “a relation of … Edward Marshall” and as having “capital”.
The VDL Company archive in Hobart is vast. Documents show that in 1846 Charles was appointed Superintendent of Woolnorth at Cape Grim, running the sheep station. He resigned in 1849, with sufficient funds to try his luck in Queensland. By 1851 he was on Glengallan, becoming sole proprietor in July 1852.
Charlotte was born at Albany, Western Australia, in 1838. Her father, William Henry Drake, like his father, lived the peripatetic life of a Commissary. Henry was born in Portugal, where his father served during the Peninsular War. In 1831, Henry was sent to Perth, and there married Louisa Purkis.
He was transferred to Hobart in 1848, and two years later, to Canada, after which he was sent to London. On his arrival there in 1854, he was diverted to the Crimea for the duration of the war. He was stationed at Balaklava, where his wife and eldest daughter joined him. Charlotte and her sister, Laura, stayed with their grandparents in London, attending school.
When hostilities ceased in 1856, the Drakes were re-united in London. Henry’s second cousins, William and Mary Marshall, also from Totnes, were neighbours. Mary (born Benthall) was Charles Marshall’s first cousin, and William, a distant cousin of his.
So, fate ensured that Charles and Charlotte would meet when Charles visited England after going into partnership with John Deuchar. Henry’s Journal tells the story. In August 1856, Edward Marshall of the War Office called. Numerous visits with William and Mary Marshall followed, and, significantly, on the 6th of April 1857, the Drakes dined with them. Henry noted that “Mr. C. Marshall” was present. In May, Charles dined with the Drakes a few times, and had tea with them. In August, Henry, Louisa, Charlotte, and Charles went to an Art Exhibition, and visited the Tower of London.
On the 18th of August, Charlotte’s older sister, Louisa Maria, congratulated her on her engagement, saying, “You know I always said it would give me more pleasure to see you married than anything else … and … I do rejoice to think you will have a husband I like so much & everybody else thinks so highly of.”
Invitations for the Wedding Breakfast went out on the 11th of September, and on the 23rd, Charles and Charlotte were married at St Pancras Parish Chapel, in Camden, by Charles’s second cousin, the Rev. Stephen Hawtrey. Charlotte wore a hand-embroidered Honiton lace veil – the same one my mother wore when she married my father. Henry wrote that “A Party of 37 lunched with us … & at 3 p.m. the Bride & Bridegroom left for Rugby & a tour.”
Charlotte noted in her Journal that they “Left 21 Regents Park Terrace in style, having had an old white satin shoe thrown at us.” The couple explored the Lake District, Edinburgh, and York, and returned to London at the end of October. Henry wrote on the 12th of December that “Charles & Charlotte left Southampton … for Alexandria en route for Australia.” They arrived at Sydney on the 17th of February 1858.
And, so, on the 23rd of February 1859 my great-grandmother, Charlotte Louisa Marshall, was born, here, not long after her mother painted the beautiful watercolour featuring their wooden house, with Mount Marshall in the background. Thirty years later Charlotte told Slade that she was glad she “was not there to see the old house pulled down”.
The Marshalls had six children. Charles Henry, the youngest, was born in 1874, four months after his father’s sudden death. Officially, Charles senior died of “cardiac disease”, but I suspect he died from melanoma. Sir James Paget, London’s leading surgeon, performed what Charles called “a most severe operation” on a “malignant” tumour on his ear in mid-1873. Paget performed another operation in March 1874, when the tumour spread.
My mother told me that Charlotte discovered that Charles had had another family after he died. This family was not mentioned in his will, but we know there was a lost “side letter”, in which it seems he left a bequest. Charlotte wrote to Slade, cryptically saying that following her “dear husband’s death” she had had “very many other very heavy expenses to meet that no one knows of or suspects”.
I have searched high and low for this family, but only recently found the VDL Company Tenantry Report for August 1849, which showed Charles had an unnamed “wife” and “child”. It clearly wasn’t a formalised relationship. Charles did not abandon his secret family, as otherwise I would not have heard about them.
After Charles died, Charlotte had to take care of her investment. Her typically feminine Victorian education had not prepared her for this, but she worked hard to understand and to contribute intelligently.
She remarried in 1883, to the accomplished William Knighton. They signed a pre-marital deed, described by Charlotte to Slade as follows: “I have had a special clause put in … that the management of Glengallan should be carried on by you & by me as heretofore, no one else in England knows as much about it as I do, & I still feel quite capable of doing my part & you will find all just as before.” This prevented Knighton from interfering, though he did help when she was ill, or when family crises intervened. I know Slade didn’t find the Knightons easy to deal with, and vice versa, but relations were always respectful.
Knighton died in 1900, and in 1905 Marshall & Slade was dissolved, after the Government’s repurchase of Glengallan for closer settlement. Charlotte died of old age in 1922 at her home, Caberfeigh, in Redhill, Surrey. She was a remarkable woman: she was raised to be a traditional Victorian wife and mother, but became a successful Victorian capitalist.
The Marshalls’ substantial investment in Glengallan wouldn’t have been as lucrative as it was without the exceptional skill, hard work, and intelligence of both Deuchar and Slade. As the Brisbane Courier noted in November 1872, Charles Marshall had “taken into partnership … William B. Slade, one of the cleverest and most respected of the young gentlemen in the district”; and the Queenslander said in 1932 that “It was Mr. Deuchar who laid the foundation of the noted Shorthorn and merino studs on Glengallan.”
How different would all their lives have been if John Deuchar and Charles Marshall had been as long-lived as William Ball Slade.
In preparation for her speech, Megan prepared a summary of information regarding the Marshalls and their families. It proved to be too long for the dinner and had to be edited to yield this speech. The longer, more detailed summary can be found HERE.