The life and times of Phillip Marshall

In my aim to catch up a bit with the whole 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks premise, here is another post delving into the life of an interesting person in my family tree – Phillip Marshall.

Phillip was born in 1870 in Ashton under Lyne, Lancashire. He was the eldest child of John Marshall and his wife Mary Fielding who had married in Ashton the previous year.

The 1871 census showed that John Marshall worked as a Cotton Cloth Warehouseman. At that time the family were living at 3 Nelson Street, Ashton under Lyne. This was in the Hurst Nook area of Ashton. By the time of the birth of their second child in 1874 they had moved to 121 Hyde Lane in Hyde, Cheshire. John was now an Overlooker of Weavers. Their newborn son they decided to call John Nicholson Swift Marshall. For some years the significance of his two middle names really stumped me but the reason for them I think I will talk about in another post!

They went on to have one more son, my great grandfather – Harry born in 1876. By 1881 the family were still at Hyde Lane and John was a Cotton Cloth Looker. There are a great many different occupations in the cotton industry, there are so many stages in the manufacture of cotton items, John’s particular job was to inspect the cotton cloth once it had been woven. It was similar to being an Overlooker but while the overlooker kept a check on the weavers on the factory floor the Cloth Looker would be more interested in the finished product than the workers.

Sadly the middle son John died before his 11th birthday from Meningitis and Convulsions which had lasted 10 hours. Then two short years later his father died aged 55 of Chronic Nephritis and Rheumatic Fever. They were both buried at St. George’s Church in Hyde.


Mary and John Marshall taken around 1886

By 1891 the widowed Mary and her two surviving sons had moved to 195 Market Street, Hyde. To support the family Mary had taken up work as a Laundress while her young sons worked at the Cotton Mill – Phillip was a Mule Overlooker while Harry was a Piecer.

Phillip married a Mary Hopkinson in 1898 in Ashton under Lyne and they were together on the 1901 census at 9 Stockport Road, High Street, Hyde. Phillip was still a Cotton Mule Overlooker while Mary was described as a retired Cotton Weaver. I discovered that Mary had died not long after the census, I found a burial for her on the 9th July 1901 at the Hyde Cemetery but strangely I have never been able to locate a death entry for her. Nothing on the GRO death indexes and nothing on the local indexes. She was just 29 years old. I’ve looked all over the place in case she died away from home, nothing.

Phillip went on to marry Clara Carter in 1908 in Hyde. They never had any children.

I had heard some family stories about my grandfather’s uncle being the owner of a mill. I wasn’t sure if any of it was true. You never can tell with stories like that.

When the 1911 census became available I found Phillip and Clara living at 6 Woodbrooke Avenue in Hyde and to my great pleasure Phillip was described as a Cotton Mill Manager! Quite something to have gone from being a Mule Overlooker to Mill Manager in the space of 10 years.

Recently my uncle sent me a collection of postcards and photos, some of which were related to Phillip and his mother Mary.



The back of the Barcelona Bullring Postcard – dated 1905 where we can clearly see Phillip was the manager of the Greenfield Mill in Hyde.


Rather fitting for me to post this blog entry on Burns Night – with a postcard of Robert Burns and his House!


The back of the Burns postcard – from Phillip to his mother, probably sometime between 1891 and 1906 – hard to tell when the stamp has been eagerly peeled off at some point! I would hazard a guess at a closer timeframe of between 1901 and 1906.

Phillip’s mother remained at 195 Market Street for some time as she was living there with Harry in 1901 but by the time of her death in 1906 she was living at 4 High Street, Hyde. She was 64 and had died of Pancreatic Cancer. She was buried at St. George’s in Hyde.

This is 195 Market Street now – not all that exciting!


195 Market Street, Hyde (from GoogleMaps)

I also have this photograph which I believe to be Mary in her later years but unsure as to who the elderly lady is and the baby and the woman behind her. The photograph would have been taken probably sometime between 1901 and 1906, from the fashions of the time. It was kept with the photograph of John and Mary. Who knows!

ImageMy great grandfather Harry worked for the same mill as Phillip. In 1912 he and his wife and only child went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to oversee cotton workers there. (That is another blog post!)

Knowing that Harry worked for Slack Mills in Hyde I found a photograph on the Tameside Image Archive of some of the directors of Slack Mills and I believe it is possible that Phillip is sat in the front row with his pocket watch on display. (Of course might not be him at all!)


Directors of Slack Mills – Hyde (from Tameside Image Archive)


Slack Mills – Hyde (from Tameside Image Archive)

The Post Office Directory of 1921 shows Phillip was still living on Woodbrooke Avenue and that he had a telephone number of 121. Having a telephone back then would have been something only businesses and fairly well off people would have had.

I still didn’t really know a huge amount about Phillip. I had found his death record in 1941 when he died aged 71 of Myocarditis and Chronic Bronchitis at his home ‘Burnside’ on Osborne Road, Hyde. I located this house – which turned out to be number 9 Osborne Road – quite a nice looking house!


Burnside – Osborne Road, Hyde from GoogleMaps.

I also found an entry on the National Probate Calendar for Phillip’s will.

His probate was granted on 12th December 1941 with his widow and her sister as executrixes at a value of Effects £331121 3s 5d. Resworn £330591 15s 11d. The will itself gives his personal estate as being worth £29484 18s 10d.

I checked out a handy calculator on the National Archives which showed that in 2005’s money this would be worth a whopping £9,509,800.03 – reworn amount £9,494,596.38. The personal estate value would be £846,807.52. What a massive sum of money to be worth! His will bequeathed his real and personal estate to his wife Clara, two hundred and fifty pounds to the Union Street Congregational Church Hyde and equal shares to his sister in law Emma Carter Jones and her late brother Tom’s children Norah Carter and Philip Carter. He did not leave any money to his Marshall relatives.

I then thought that being the manager of such a well known mill, that perhaps there might have been something in the local paper about him, so I contacted the really helpful people at the Tameside Local Studies Library to ask them if there was an obituary for Phillip or indeed any other references to him in the papers in their collection. It was probably one of the most interesting finds on my tree when they came back to say they had indeed found an obituary for him – with a photograph and an earlier newspaper entry for him from 1921 about cotton trade prospects – again with a photograph.


His obituary made for fascinating reading:

ImageImageA transcription of the article is as follows:

Death of Mr. Philip Marshall – Little Piecer to Managing Director.

Beginning work as a little piecer at the age of ten, Mr. Philip Marshall, “Burnside” of Osborne Road Hyde, who died on Saturday, became managing director of the firm. He was 71 years of age and had been in the service of the company for the long period of 61 years. Mr. Marshall, who had not enjoyed good health for a few years, became worse several weeks ago and since that time had been confined to the house. He leaves a widow but no family.

A native of Hurst, he came a very early age to Hyde with his parents. He attended St. George’s Day School and at the age of ten started at Slack Mills as a little piecer in the spinning department working at first as a half-timer. Keenly interested in his work, he spent much of his leisure time in study. He attended classes on cotton spinning at Hyde Technical School and won the Thomas Ashton Scholarship. He then continued his studies in Manchester with successful results.

His enterprise and perseverance were rewarded when he was appointed spinning manager, a position he held for a good number of years. Later he became managing director of the firm, a responsible position he held for 20 years. He knew most of the workpeople personally and enjoyed their confidence and esteem.

Interested in the Co-operative movement, Mr. Marshall served for about ten years on the Committee of Management of the Hyde Co-operative Society, and took an active and practical share in the work of the society generally.

On the Town Council

For three years he was a member of the Hyde Town Council. In a stiff fight in November 1921, Mr. Marshall at his first attempt not only headed the list but secured the record poll for Godley ward of 1,429 votes. His personal popularity may be judged by the fact that he polled over three hundred votes more than his Liberal colleague, the late Councillor James Hibbert, as he then was, and got more than double the number of votes of the first unsuccessful candidate, although six contested, two from each of the three parties.

Mr. Marshall was interested in a number of textile concerns and was a director of the Astley Mills, Dukinfield and Newton Moor Mills. He had practically a life-long connection with Union Street Congregational Church and Sunday School and though he never held any official position, he retained his interest and support throughout.

 A Tribute

A man who had known Mr. Marshall for well over half a century and had been associated with him in the work at Slack Mills, said “He was a plain, straightforward man with no trimmings, and just the same in disposition when he was appointed to a position of authority as when he worked in the spinning room. He was sympathetic towards the workpeople and you always felt when you approached him you would get a square deal. He was solid and dependable.”

The Funeral

Tribute to the life and character of Mr. Marshall was paid by colleagues, staff and workpeople of Slack Mills, as well as by representatives of various organizations at the funeral on Tuesday afternoon. Service at the house was conducted by the Rev. W. A. Powicke, M.A. of Chapel Milton and formerly minister of Union Street Congregational Church, Hyde, and personal friend of the family.

The cortege, on its way to Stockport Crematorium, passed Slack Mills, where Mr. Marshall had served all his working life. The flag was flown at half-mast, and a group of employees stood bareheaded at the main entrance. The committal service at the Crematorium was taken by the Rev. K. C. Rutherford, minister of Union Street Church, and here other personal and business friends gathered.

Family mourners were: Mrs. Marshall (wife), Mrs. Jones (sister in law), Sergt. P. Carter and Mr. E. Oldham (nephews), Mr. J. J. Wilde (brother in law).

Among those present, either at the house or the Crematorium were:- Representatives of Slack Mills; Mr. A. Taylor (chairman of the company), Mr. E. H. Blackburn, Mr. J. Lindley (directors), Alderman G. H. D. Pickthall (secretary), Mr. J. T. Horsfield (salesman)Mr. T. Tydesley (inside spinning manager), Mr. S. Marshall (weaving manager), Mr. W. Greenhalgh (cashier), Mr. Cecil Spencer (office staff), Mr. J. Jarritt (chief engineer).

Federation of Master Cotton Spinners Associations and Ashton and District Cotton Employers Association: Mr. Alfred Taylor, Mr. John Booth, Mr. Wilfred Hilton and Mr. Ronald Day.

Ashton and District Mill Managers Association: Mr. F. Proctor (president), Mr. W. C. Moorhouse, Mr. R. Sharples and Mr. C. E. Anderson.

Ashton Bros: Mr. Mark Winder (managing director).

Hyde and District Operative Spinners Association: Mr. Joe Heginbotham (president).

Mr. Lees, Mr. Fielding, Mr. Nield, Mr. E. Hopkinson, Mr. H. Richardson, Mr. D. Pennington (solicitor), Dr. Hamilton, Mr. J. W. Blackburn (Wallasey), Major Pooley (Birkenhead), Mr. H. Hird, Mr. J. E. Clee, Mr. W. Howard (Hazel Grove). Mr. W. A. Firth (treasurer Union Street Congregational Church), Mr. J. Dodgson (Midland Bank Hyde), Mr. J. W. Jarritt (Morton Aston and Rogers Chartered Accountants), Mr. J. D. Cooke (Messrs Alfred Firth and Co)

The following employees of Slack Mills were the bearers: Messrs H. Gunnel, C. Wibberley, F. Sherwin, A. Sayce, F. Masser and H. Silver.

Floral tributes were from: Clara; Emma; Phil and May; Nora, Eric and Jean; cousins Lizzie and Clanning; George and Annie; Alice and Tom (Mossley); Lizzie, Kay and David (Blackpool); Mr. and Mrs. Richardson and Florence; Geo. W. and Geo. B. Fielding; Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd; Minnie; Mr. and Mrs. Hales and family; Mr. and Mrs. S. Wilson; Mr. and Mrs. Sam Marshall; Mr. and Mrs. Gunnell; May Moores and Lillian Kenworthy; Mr. and Mrs. Pickthall; Harriett and Jack (Sheffield Road); J. T. Horsfield, Mrs. W. Arstall and Mr. and Mrs. H. Garlick; Mrs. S. Babbage; Mr. and Mrs. D. Pennington; Miss Greenhalgh; Miss Craven; Rev. W. A. and Mrs. Powicke; Helen, John, Michael and Mary; Florrie and Lily (Edna Street); Sam, Maggie and Emmie; Mr. and Mrs. E. Wilkinson; directors and staff, Slack Mills Co Ltd.; members of Union Street Congregational Church; Mr. and Mrs. Lindley; Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Blackburn and family; Mr. A. Taylor; Ashton and District Cotton Employers Association; Ashton Mill Managers Association; president and members, Federation of Master Cotton Spinners Association Ltd. Manchester.

Charles Moss and Son had charge of the funeral arrangements.”


What is quite interesting is that none of my side of the family appear to have attended the funeral! And also no mention of his first wife.

Philip’s widow Clara had a flower bed in Philip’s memory at Ashton Hospital. The bed and plaque were removed when the hospital was extended. The plaque is now held by the Tameside Local Studies Archive. His wife Clara died in 1954.

So there we have it. Phillip Marshall, a man who went from humble beginnings as a Cotton Piecer to becoming a well loved and much respected Cotton Mill Manager. I do wonder why my side of the family seemed to have little to do with him – but perhaps I might touch on that in another post!

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