Originally a Marshall was a shoeing blacksmith, but as the importance of horses grew in both the economic and social life of the age, the importance of men expert in their care and selection grew too. In the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries a Marshall was a man in charge of the horses. The root of the word is probably the old French word mareschal meaning ‘one who tends the horses’. To learn more about the Marshall name and one of the most famous Marshal's, one of our testees suggests his favorite book William Marshal, Knight-Errant, Baron, and Regent of England, by Sidney Painter, John Hopkins Press, 4th printing 1971. William was born 1145 and died May 14, 1219. The book is a thorough discussion of William’s long and colorful history and lineage, as translated from the original French purportedly written by a close lifelong associate of William’s soon after his 1219 death. William, who became Earl of Pembroke by marriage, served as friend and confidant to 4 or 5 post 1160 English kings. Among other things, he served as the King’s administrator for all of southern Ireland, and signed Magna Carta as one of the King’s witnesses. His ancestors apparently arrived in England in 1066 with the Norman invaders.
Marshall name in the United States
In the first United States census (1790), approximately 280 Marshall families were enumerated living in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont. Approximately 125 families were also enumerated with the surname of Marshal (one "L"). In many cases, the second "L" was added or dropped by the enumerator without knowledge of the family. Therefore, one could say that by 1790, over 400 Marshall/Marshal families had removed from other parts of the world to the United States or were born here after their parents arrived. By the time of the Civil War, the Marshall family was well represented in the ranks for both the Confederate and Union. Over 1500 Marshall's served with the South and over 2800 served with the North.
This Marshall Surname DNA Project
With the large number of Marshall families in the United States over 200 years ago, many of us find that our traditional genealogical research is at a full stop due to courthouse fires, lost church records, or just no written records of our American ancestors. Many have spent years of research and thousands of dollars attempting to connect themselves to other American Marshall's and to Marshall's back in Europe and the United Kingdom. Several families have collected and published Marshall family histories that take them back to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, or even South Carolina. But after all their efforts, there is still no connections outside the United States and many questions remain about the kinship of Marshall neighbors living nearby. Dedicated researchers call this stopping point a brick wall. This Marshall Surname DNA Project is intended to help get the Marshall family more connected, breaking down as many of these so called brick walls as possible.