Yeovil People

Colonel William Marsh C.B.E.

Solicitor and Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset


William Marsh was born on 27 October 1850 at Imber, Wiltshire, the second son of farmer John Marsh (b1823) and his wife Eliza (b1824). In the 1861 census John and Eliza, together with their four sons; John (b1850), William, Arthur H (b1854) and Charles (1856-1940), together with a servant, lived at 'In the Roads', Stratford sub Castle, where John was described as a 'Farmer of 486 Acres Employing 9 Men & 6 Boys'.

William came to Yeovil in 1873, and in 1874, he married Agnes Elizabeth Waters (1851-1942) daughter of Edward Waters of Stratford sub Castle, Wiltshire. William and Agnes had five children, Evelyn Emmeline Mary (1875-1918), Florence Ethel (1876-1923), Gwendoline Agnes (1878-1975), Edward Waters Harbin (1880-1915), and Kenneth Stanley (1889-1975). Evelyn married Captain Charles James Trask (1860-1944) owner of Norton sub Hamdon Quarry. Florence (known as Ethel) studied at the Royal Academy of Music and performed locally and nationally as a violinist in the early 1900s. She suffered poor health in middle age and died in Davos, Switzerland, where she had gone in search of a cure. Edward enlisted in the army during the 1890s and by the end of the decade he was a Lieutenant in the Mounted Infantry of the 60th Rifles (the King's Royal Rifle Corps). Kenneth emigrated to Malaya before the start of the First World War, to become a rubber planter.

During 1873, 74-year old Yeovil solicitor, John Slade, took on 47-year old William Henry Mayo and 25-year old William Marsh as partners. The new firm of Slade, Mayo & Marsh operated from 4 Church Street. On John Slade's retirement, the firm was renamed Mayo & Marsh with William Mayo's son, Patrick William Mayo joining as a new partner. Mayo & Marsh were listed as 'Solicitors of Church Street' in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1882. In 1887 the Mayo & Marsh association was dissolved. William Marsh left to set up his own firm and practiced alone until 1892 when he was joined by Harry Macauley-Bennett - the new firm was known as Marsh & Macauley-Bennett. This partnership lasted until 1897, at which time Henry Cockeram Warry joined the practice and the firm became Marsh & Warry. Warry would continue the practice after the death of William Marsh.

In the 1881 census William and Agnes were recorded living at a villa on Preston Road, near Summerlands. Living with them were their children, together with William's 17-year old brother-in-law Edward Waters, a solicitor's law clerk, and three domestic servants.

Draper Benjamin Samuel Dunn Penny bought Old Sarum House, Princes Street - an elegant 18th century town house - in 1888 for £1,900 (around £2,250,000 at today's value). It had previously been occupied by William Mayo. From this time, solicitor William Marsh was the tenant - the last person to use Old Sarum House as a private residence. In the censuses of 1891, 1901 and 1911, William and Agnes were listed at Old Sarum House.

William was very active outside of his professional life, and, following his tragic death in a cycling accident on 27 June 1920, while on holiday in Devon, the local press paid great tribute to his work in the community, detailing the many positions of responsibility William had held, most of them voluntary, with special emphasis on his roles in the local Territorial Army and the British Red Cross.

He was first gazetted to the old 16th Somerset (Yeovil) Volunteers in November 1873. The Volunteers were embodied in the old 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, and Colonel Marsh succeeded to command of the Battalion on 19 September 1903. The was the first commanding officer of the 5th Somerset Light Infantry, when the old 2nd Volunteer Battalion was redesignated under the Territorial Force scheme in 1909.

He was clerk to the Yeovil County Bench of Magistrates from 1873; clerk to the old Yeovil Highway Board from 1878 until 1895; secretary to the Somerset Chamber of Agriculture from 1873, clerk to the Tisbury Guardians, Rural District Council and Assessment Committee from 1878 and steward of the Manor of Rimpton. He was the local solicitor to the London and South-Western Railway Company and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a member of the local War Pensions Committee, the Soldiers' and Sailors' Help Society, the local Committee of the the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families' Association, the Incorporated Law Society, the Incorporated Justices' Clerks' Society and the Solicitors' Benevolent Association. He was a former chairman of the governing body of the Yeovil Girls' High School.

He was a Past-Master of the Yeovil 'Brotherly Love' Lodge of Freemasons; initiated on 18 November 1874 and installed as Worshipful Master in 1891.

For duty and dedication to these and other worthy causes in and around Yeovil, William had been awarded the CBE and the honour of being made Deputy Lieutenant of Somerset.


Many thanks to Roger Parsons for much of the above.

See Solicitors of Yeovil




Courtesy of Roger Parsons

AA portrait of William Marsh in his uniform of the 5th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, (Territorial Army), photographed between 1908 and 1920.


Old Sarum House photographed in 1906. At this time it was the home of the Marsh family./p>