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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Marshall, Thomas Henry (Harry) (1862–1909)

by G. C. Bolton

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

Thomas Henry (Harry) Marshall (c.1862-1909), publican and politician, was born probably at Bailup, west of Toodyay, Western Australia, son of Edward Marshall, ex-convict timberworker, and his wife Louisa, née Harris. In 1883-86 Harry worked as a clerk and shop assistant in South Australia. On 7 April 1886 at Trinity Church of England, Adelaide, he married Clara Wilhelmina Ohlmeyer. Returning to Western Australia, between 1886 and 1894 he was successively a baker, an import merchant and a publican at Fremantle.

Marshall served on the Fremantle Municipal Council (1888-91, 1893-94), acted as secretary of the Lumpers' Association (founded 1890) and the Liberal Association, and was a committee-member of the Fremantle Rowing Club and an official of the (Australian Rules) football club. Gaoled for twenty-four hours in 1891, following involvement in a riot at Fremantle oval, he was welcomed by a brass band on his release. That year his wife died in Adelaide; on 19 October 1892 Marshall married Jane Ann McLean at Fremantle Congregational Church.

When the Legislative Council became elective in July 1894, Marshall nominated for one of the three West Province seats. In the same month the Supreme Court of Western Australia upheld a fine of £750 against him for breaches of the customs regulations, involving a strong suspicion of forgery. Because of his detention by a sheriff's officer he was unable to make the customary speech to the electors. Enough voters thought him victimized to ensure his election to the conservative, property-owning council. The West Australian was scandalized: Marshall's return was 'a reproach to the entire colony' which 'brought a sense of intolerable shame to every respectable person in the community'. He was the first son of an ex-convict to enter Western Australia's parliament. But his performance was brief and unremarkable. Declaring himself a staunch supporter of Sir John Forrest's government, he spoke seldom and only on Fremantle matters. Late in 1894 he went to the Murchison goldfields as licensee of the Excelsior Hotel, Cue. In June 1895 he was declared bankrupt, probably because of his fine, and his seat became vacant after a constitutional debate in the Legislative Council.

At Cue Marshall founded the Excelsior brewery and a cordial manufactory and again showed himself a keen sportsman, being patron of the local cycling club and president of the Central Murchison Football Association. His popularity was apparently unaffected by his imprisonment for twelve months in 1898 for larceny of part of an aerated water machine. He served on Cue Municipal Council in 1906-09 and on the local water board. In 1908 he moved to nearby Day Dawn, as licensee of the Great Fingall and Day Dawn hotels, and was still on the municipal council when he died of gastroenteritis on 28 December 1909. He was buried in Cue cemetery with Anglican rites, and was survived by his wife and their three sons, and by two daughters and one son of his first marriage. An early example of sporting populism in Western Australia, Marshall probably found himself out of his depth in parliament and contented himself with energetic community activities and larrikin entrepreneurship.

Select Bibliography

  • C. T. Stannage (ed), A New History of Western Australia (Perth, 1981)
  • D. Black and G. Bolton, Biographical Register of the Members of the Parliament of Western Australia, vol 1 (Perth, 2001)
  • Western Mail, 7 July 1894, p 10
  • West Australian, 17 July 1894, p 3, 18 July 1894, p 4
  • Geraldton Express, 27 May 1898, p 3
  • Murchison Times, 30 Dec 1909, p 3.

Citation details

G. C. Bolton, 'Marshall, Thomas Henry (Harry) (1862–1909)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 21 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

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