George Edward Marshall
Date of birth: 1873
Date of death: 1948
Regiment: Seaforth Highlanders / Military Foot Police
Service number: 3951
If little is known about George’s early family life then the opposite applies to his military career. Indeed, thanks to the survival of some of his records a detailed and interesting account can be constructed. In fact, it could even be said that his military service was the most interesting of all those who hailed from Brotherton and that he was probably the most decorated in terms of campaign medals.
His involvement with the military began in 1891 when he was 18 years old. According to his ‘Short Service Attestation’ he joined the Seaforth Highlanders (Service no 3951) at Fort George on 12th October 1891 for a period of 12 years, having signed up at Pontefract three days earlier. However, this was not his first involvement as in response to question 10 on the attestation he stated he was serving with the 3rd Bat. York and Lancaster Reg. A ‘Conditional Discharge of Militiaman’ form indicates that he had completed 41 days training with Y&L before his transfer.
From his records a rather complex picture emerges. George appears to have been bright with a somewhat rebellious streak that courted trouble at times. However, he was undoubtedly a good soldier who served in several ‘theatres’ of conflict and considered the army as his chosen and preferred career.
Chronology of events
In the period up to April 1893 he spent several spells in confinement for offences ranging from being absent from tattoo, breaking out of barracks and remaining absent till apprehended, refusing to obey an order, committing a civil offence - theft, losing by neglect his clothing and regimental accessories. In all he forfeited a total of 152 days pensionable service for these misdemeanours.
4/12/93 - posted to the East Indies (India) until 22/1/97.
2nd class Certificate of Education.
23/1/97 - posted to Malta until 6/4/97.
7/4/97 - posted to Crete where he took part in the ‘occupation’ of the island. In 1896 a rebellion against Ottoman rule erupted on the island of Crete, also called Candia in Italian. The Graeco-Ottoman War of 1897 followed; Greek troops landed on Crete. The Protecting Powers (Britain, Russia, France, Italy) imposed a blockade on Crete (1897) and, following Ottoman approval, established control. Fighting on Crete ceased. The last Ottoman forces withdrew in November 1898. The island was given autonomous status.
25/11/97 - posted back to Malta -until 4/1/98.
5/1/98 - posted to Egypt until 10/6/1901. Participated in the ‘Nile Expedition’ of 1898 and was awarded 2 medals.
THE QUEEN'S SUDAN MEDAL was awarded to British and Egyptian forces which took part in the Sudan campaign between 1896 and 1898. This campaign is often described as "The reconquest of the Sudan". Some countries like Italy, Germany, France or Belgium were expanding their African colonies, which Sudan could be one, the British decided to occupy it.
KHEDIVE'S SUDAN MEDAL 1896-1908. This medal was issued by the Khedive of Egypt to commemorate the reconquest of the Sudan and other later operations. In most cases it was issued with at least one clasp and records show that George had a clasp marked ‘Atbara’ gained during the Battle off Atbara on 8th April 1898. Troops loyal to the Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad began a siege of Khartoum on 13 March 1884 against the defenders led by British General Charles George Gordon. The siege ended in a massacre of the Anglo-Egyptian garrison. The heavily damaged city fell to the Mahdists on 26 January 1885, and all its inhabitants were put to death. Omdurman was the scene of the bloody battle on 2 September 1898, during which British forces under Herbert Kitchener defeated the Mahdist forces defending the city. Omdurman where Lt. Winston Churchill fought.
3/1899 - Forfeited service was restored
11/6/99 - extended service to 12 years and was awarded £14 deferred pay.
11/6/1901 - Home - returned to UK until 3/2/1904
23/12/01 - appointed Lance Corporal.
23/5/02 - passed exam for promotion to Corporal and promoted on 28/5/02.
28/4/03 - reverted back to Private at own request.
26/8/02 - married Elizabeth Smith at Ardersier, a village East of Inverness and close to Fort George. Elizabeth came from Linlithgow and the two witnesses were called Robertson and Frazer.
26/4/03 - George’s first child - John William Ramsden Marshall was born at Fort George.
28/4/03 - re-engaged at Fort George to extend service to 21 years.
30/9/03 - in Dublin was examined for service in India and found fit.
4/2/04 - posted to East Indies where would remain until 5/3/1912. His family accompanied the regiment.
19/2/04 - appointed Lance Corporal.
15/6/05 - daughter Jessie Annie born in Nasirabad.
23/4/06 - Deprived of Lance Corporal stripe.
21/10/07 - son George Edward born at Nowshera.
5/7/11 - awarded 21 days detention by C.O. for misconduct.
12/12/09 - in hospital for 8 days with Pyrexia (fever) -seems to have been given quinine.
11/12/10 - son Robert Lee born at Ranikhet.
6/3/12 - posted back to UK - based at Shorncliffe Camp just to the west of Folkestone.
9/9/12 - son James Gillespie born at Shorncliffe Camp.
26/9/12 - Examined at Shorncliffe and found fit for service beyond 21 years.
19/11/12 – discharged on completion of 2nd period of engagement
After his discharge from the army little is yet known of George and his family. However, a single sheet in his army records indicates that he lived at 16 Ward Street, Hunslet Road, Leeds at some stage. This was quite probably between 1915 and 1919 as George re-enlisted, possibly in Aldershot, in the 2/4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders on 14/05/1915.
2/4th (Ross Highland) Battalion as they were known was formed at Dingwall in September 1914 as a second line battalion. In January 1915 they were attached to 2nd Seaforth & Cameron Highlanders Brigade, 2nd Highland Division and moved to Fort George in April 1915 and Blair Atholl in July, going to billets in Pitlochry in October 1915 the formation became 191st Brigade in 64th (2nd Highland) Division.
As an experienced soldier it seems that George was promoted to acting Lance Corporal the day after he was embodied. However, true to form, on 1/9/16 he reverted to permanent private rank.
Was transferred to a Royal Scots Garrison Battalion on 1/9/16.
On 23/4/1918, however, he was moved to the 11th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers as a Lance Corporal.
The 11th Battalion had been formed on 1 January 1917 from what had previously been the 11th Provisional Battalion of the TF. It had been formed in June 1915 from "Home Service only" personnel. On 27 April 1918 it became a Garrison Guard Bat and went to France 5 May 1918 attached to 178th Brigade, 59th (2nd North Midland) Division. However, prior to embarkation George was posted to the 13th RSF. It seems he was destined, probably because of his age, not to take an active part in the fighting.
On 20/6/18 he was again an acting Lance Corporal.
However, on 13/7/1918 he was transferred yet again, as a private, to the Military Foot Police (MFP) (Service no P/15959) and immediately promoted to Lance Corporal (again). A guide to the kind of duties associated with the Military Police can be found in the account on John Kelly Bailliff.
George Marshall was finally discharged on 4/3/1919 after serving a further 4 years 175 days taking his total army service to over 25 years.
Little is known about George Marshall’s early life or his family at this stage. In 1881 he was found in Brotherton, having been born there in 1873. He was listed as Geo E. Marshal and living with his 51 year old mother Ann Hurst Marshal(l) who had been born in Peniston(e) about 1830. She was described as an unmarried ‘dressmaker’. They were living in York (Gauk) Street near the Wesleyan Chapel. The only other piece of information comes from his army record where he gives his next of kin as Elizabeth Lee of Birkin who was his aunt. Incidentally, his third son was given the name Lee. On one page of his army record his name is given as George E. And considering his second son was called George Edward is it likely that this was his second name.
There were other ‘Marshalls’ in Brotherton but no link has yet been made.
After the War
No confirmed information is available at this point but Marriage and Death records do show the following.
A George Marshall date of birth 1873 died in Leeds in 1948 aged 75 and a George E Marshall date of birth 1874 died in Leeds in 1938 aged 64.
Given the fact that it is likely that George and his family remained in Hunslet after the war, the uncommon names and the dates of birth there is a very close match to 2 of his sons -
· A Robert Lee Marshall married Ada Holman, registered in South Leeds in the third quarter of 1934 and a Robert L. Marshall born ‘about 1911’ (actual date of birth 11/12/10) died in the third quarter of 1966, registered in Leeds.
· A James Gillespie Marshall married Lillie Head in the last quarter of 1933 registered in North Leeds. James Gillespie Marshall died in the first quarter of 1978 registered in Leeds and shows his date of birth as 9/9/1912 which matches exactly with the date given on his father’s war record.
Both went on to have children.
In mid 2012 I pursued details of George Edwards family and was able to make contact with three of his grandsons. Dennis Marshall from Collingham, near Wetherby was one and had been tracing his family history and was most interested in my work.
He had been down a ‘blind alley’ as the family had believed that George Edward was of Scottish descent due to the place of his marriage, army unit etc. It came as something of a surprise to find he had been born just a few miles down the A1 in Brotherton.
Dennis had obtained a copy of the marriage certificate from Scotland and George Edward had named his father as Thomas Marshall (a policeman) and his mother as Anne Turton. This did not tally with my findings. A copy of his birth certificate (2/3/1873) failed to enlighten the situation as his father was un-named
As a result of meeting up and comparing notes the following additional information was highlighted -
In 1861 32 year old Ann Hirst (Hurst) Marshall was found to be living in Brotherton with a ‘Cordwainer’ called Thomas Hirst who had been born in Brayton near Selby. Her place of birth, which seems to be borne out by other entries, appears to have been Penistone.
In 1871 Ann was still living in Brotherton with Thomas Hirst who was a ‘Shoemaker’ Also in the household was a 7 year old girl called Sarah Emma Turton who had been born in ‘Oyland’ – probably Hoyland near Barnsley. There was also a Ann Elizabeth Marshall aged 1 month.
On joining the army in 1891 it would appear that both Thomas and Ann were deceased as George gave his next of kin as his Aunt Elizabeth Lee of Birkin. In 1891 an Eliza Lee, born about 1830, was living in Birkin and she had been born in Hambleton which is very close to Brayton.
Eliza could be found in Birkin in 1851 married to John Lee and having two young sons. Also resident was Mary Hirst aged 56 ( born in Beal - a mile from Birkin - in 1796). She was described as a ‘Nurse’. There was also a 9 year old John Hirst described as a visitor.
All the villages named are within a few miles of each other and Birkin is only 2 miles or so from Brotherton. As a result we concluded that Thomas Hirst was the brother of Eliza (Elizabeth) Lee and as George described her as his Aunt then Thomas Hirst was in fact his father.
It is not known if Thomas and Ann were ever married. If they were not married then it is likely that George did not want this acknowledging on his marriage certificate hence the difference in names. There is obviously a Turton connection somewhere along the family line but, again, this has not been found as of yet.
One possible explanation is that George’s mother was indeed called Ann Turton, married someone called Marshall who possibly died or became absent for other reasons. Ann then cohabited with Thomas Hirst.
‘Marshal’ may have been the father. Alternatively, Thomas Hirst was the father but because, for whatever, reason, he and Ann were not married so George was given her surname as was customary.