The MARSHALL Surname

The Marshall Surname

Following on from my last blog on the Scottish MacLellan surname, this month I am writing about the Marshall surname.  I have just finished researching the Marshall family history from Crieff and I was fascinated by their local and social history.  If you are related to a Marshall, then this blog might be of interest to you…

The early origins of the Marshall surname

Tracing the origins of your surname can bring great benefits to your family history research.  It can help you trace where your forebears came from, discover their traits and find early records of them.

The Marshall name was apparently first introduced in Britain at the time of the Norman Conquest.  It first came from the Latin mariscalus and then evolved from the old German word marah meaning horse and schal meaning servant.  In essence, the word means keeper of horses.

The occupational meanings of the Marshall surname

From its origins, the name evolved into two quite distinct occupational meanings.  The first was someone who looked after horses while the other, similar to a steward or constable, was someone who looked after the cavalry.  In time, the latter was responsible for organising any aspect of military, court or civil life.

The Marshall family who were the Earls of Pembroke were originally descended from Gilbert Mareshall. One of his descendants, William Marshal was a high ranking individual who went by the name Lord Marshall.  His heirs continued the surname and the office, making them into a powerful family.  In Scotland the Keith family held the ceremonial title of Earl Marshal.

The Marshall surname in Scotland

It is likely that most Scottish Marshalls gained their surname from the humbler occupation of a horse servant.  The Marshall Clan was established around Glasgow when Maledoni Mareschal was witness to the gift of lands of Perdeye to the Church of Glasgow in 1136.

Facts about the Marshall name

  • The Marshall surname was the 51st most common surname in Scotland in 2020
  • According to late 19th century census returns, there was a large concentration of Marshalls in Glasgow and surrounding areas.
  • Today, the Marshalls food brand is best known for macaroni cheese.  Brothers James and Thomas Marshall from Glasgow established the first pre-packaged food products in 1885.
  • The Marshall tartan is also known as Falconer, Keith and Austin.
  • Other spellings include: Marischal, Marskell, Mascall, Maskall, Maskell, Maskill

Interesting Marshalls

Back in the 18th century, the king of gypsies named Billy Marshall was a boxer who had a side job at as bandit.  He was known to terrorise the Galloway countryside and apparently married more than 15 times!!  There is a legend that he fathered at least 4 children after the age of 100.  He was buried in Kirkcudbright.

During the same time, another William Marshall left his mark in the world of Scottish music.  As the estate factor for the Duke of Gordon, his hobbies included music composition and playing the fiddle.  He composed over 200  songs including “Of a’ the airts the wind can blaw” which is fairly well known.


if you have any questions about this blog, or if you would like to share your own ideas about how family history is important, then leave a comment below to start a discussion….

If you’re also looking for information on other Scottish ancestors then please check out my resource on Scottish surnames.


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