The Walsh Family

The Walsh Branch

My Paternal Grandmother was Minnie Walsh

Cecils mother Minnie Walsh

Cecil Marshall with his mother Minnie

Cecil Marshall with his mother Minnie

Children of William Walsh

Children of William Walsh




The Walsh side of the family live in Australia. Great Grandfather William Joseph Walsh was born in London in 1841, and his father, also called William Joseph, who was born in 1820 in Lancashire. William Joseph senior died in Grenfell, NSW in 1879, so presumably the family emigrated at some point. They lived in the area around Orange, west of Sydney NSW.

William Junior was a bootmaker who later became a miner. He marriedClara McKay in Lucknow, NSW, on 17 July 1874. They had a large family of a dozen children including Minnie and Nellie (Ellen Lillian).  Minnie was 2 years older than Nellie, who was the second youngest.

When I was a child we called Nellie Granny Marshall. It was only when I was much older that I discovered that she was not my father’s mother, whose name was Minnie.

Minnie and Nellie were sent to Johannesburg when they were in their late teens to help a relative run a boarding house. I do not know who the relative was, or anything about the boarding house. However they obviously met John Marshall there, and he fell in love with Minnie and married her. So far I have not found their marriage certificate, but this was probably in 1904 when Minnie was 19 and John was 27. Minnie looks elegant and pretty in her photographs which were probably taken about this time.

My father Cecil John Marshall was born on 30 April 1905. He was named after Cecil John Rhodes, whom his father much admired. Photographs show Cecil with John, Minnie and Nellie at Pinedene, and like so many first-born children he had plenty of toys and was well photographed.

According to my mother Minnie died of “a broken heart” when Cecil was about two years old. He looks a bit older in the photographs but with no death certificate it is hard to be sure when she died. I cannot imagine why she would have died of a broken heart when she had a husband and a small son, so when my mother was writing her memoirs I ask her about it. She said that actually she died of TB, but in those days it was considered a disgrace (only poor people died of TB) so it was never mentioned.

Nobody knows what Nellie was doing at this time. Perhaps she was still helping at the boarding house. After Minnie’s death she does seem to have looked after Cecil a great deal. John eventually married Nellie in 1914. She was pregnant with Doris when they married so they had obviously been close for a while, but under South African Roman Dutch law it was illegal to marry one’s wife’s sister.

So Nellie and John made the trip back to England by ship, and went to John’s family in Chelmsford. They were married in the registry office in Chelmsford, when Nellie was 25 and John was 35. The marriage certificate says that John was a poultry farmer and their residence is given as Church View, Springfield, Chelmsford. David Brown has found photos of a house and the church at Springfield, and this is where Alfred, John’s father, was living at this time. I do not know if Cecil went with them; I think he did as I have a vague recollection of him saying that he went to England as a child.

Nellie and John returned to South Africa and continued to live at Pinedene after they were married; John ran his poultry business from here. They had five children Doris (1914), Enid (1918), Hugh (1920), Joyce (1922) and Joan(1927). At some point they sold Pinedene, which was sub-divided for suburban housing, and moved to the house on Elray Street.

Nellie was always very religious and brought her children up as Catholics. Cecil however was Church of England by up-bringing, but he went to the Christian Brothers College in Johannesburg, a Catholic school. Perhaps this was Nellie’s influence. A few years ago I asked Joy why Cecil was brought up as an Anglican when all the rest of the family seems to be Catholic. This is her reply –

“I THINK that Cecil’s mother was not quite as fervent in her Catholic practices as Nellie was and agreed that Cecil should be the same as his father while any subsequent daughters would be Catholic. It was not an uncommon practice long ago before Vatican II. My mother (Kathleen Brown) was C of E firmly. My father was converted to Catholicism from Congregationalism and all the children were brought up Catholics because my mother had promised they would be, and it was she who got us out of bed to walk to Mass – not my father!”


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