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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Marshall, Matthias Murray

by George T. Blackburn II, 1991

13 Aug. 1841–22 Oct. 1912

Photographic portrait of The Rev. Matthias Murray Marshall, D.D. Fifth Rector of Christ Church.  From Joseph Blount Cheshire's <i>Centennial Ceremonies Held in Christ Church Parish Raleigh, North Carolina A.D. 1921</i>, published 1922 by Bynum Printing Company, Raleigh. Presented on Matthias Murray Marshall, Episcopal clergyman and Confederate chaplain, was born in Pittsboro, the son of Abel and Delana Gunter Marshall. His father was a cabinetmaker and local official; his mother was the daughter of Abner Gunter, clerk of court of Chatham County for over forty years. Educated first in local schools in Pittsboro and Graham, he attended Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., from December 1858 until May 1861, when he was obliged to leave because of the outbreak of the Civil War. He enlisted in the Confederate army and was commissioned a lieutenant, but frail health—a constant throughout life—forced him to resign after a brief service. Resuming his education, this time at The University of North Carolina, he was graduated in June 1863 and received the M.A. degree in 1866. The College of William and Mary later awarded him a D.D. degree.

Early in December 1863 Marshall was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal church and was named chaplain of the Seventh Regiment, attached to the Army of Northern Virginia. He went at once to join the regiment near Orange Court House, Va., but soon became ill from exposure and never returned to camp. Instead, he was made chaplain at the army hospital at Kittrell Springs, where he served until the end of the war. He also was in charge of St. James's Church, which had been recently established there. Fifty-two soldiers died at the hospital during Marshall's tenure, and each was given burial according to the ritual prescribed by the soldier's professed faith.

Ordained to the priesthood in September 1865, Marshall officiated at Christ Church, Elizabeth City, from 1865 to 1867. Here, in 1866, he married Margaret Susan Wingfield, the only daughter of the Reverend John H. Wingfield of Portsmouth, Va. They had eight children, six of whom survived infancy.

From 1867 to 1874 Marshall was rector of Emmanuel Church, Warrenton. He then served as rector of Christ Church, Raleigh, until his retirement in 1907 because of failing health. For many years he was president of the diocesan convention and president of the standing committee that shared authority with the bishop of the diocese.

Marshall died in Morganton and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Raleigh.


Joseph Blount Cheshire, ed., Sketches of Church History in North Carolina (1892). (accessed August 12, 2014).

Cyclopedia of Eminent and Representative Men of the Carolinas, vol. 2 (1892). (accessed August 12, 2014).

Daniel L. Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina, 1795–1924 (1924). (accessed August 12, 2014).

Matthias Murray Marshall, Ministers and Members of Christ (1872).

Samuel Thomas Peace, Zeb's Black Baby (1955).

Raleigh Times, 23 Oct. 1912.

Additional Resources:

Matthias Murray Marshall Papers, 1823-1912 (collection no. 00489). The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.,Matthias_Murray.html (accessed August 12, 2014).

"Confederate Cemetery." N.C. Highway Historical Marker GGG-1, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed August 12, 2014).

Haywood, Marshall De Lancey. Lives of the bishops of North Carolina from the establishment of the episcopate in that state down to the division of the diocese. Raleigh, N.C.: Alfred Williams & Company. 1910. (accessed August 12, 2014).

Image Credits:

Christ Church (Raleigh, N.C.); Cheshire, Joseph Blount. Centennial ceremonies held in Christ Church parish, Raleigh, North Carolina, A.D. 1921 : including historical addresses. Raleigh: Bynum Printing Co. 1922. [35]. (accessed August 12, 2014).