The Old Rectory, 88 Lodge Rd, Feltwell, Thetford IP26 4DN, UK
St. Thomas Churchyard Upshire, Epping Forest District, Essex, England
Catherine Marsh or Miss C. M. Marsh (15 September 1818 – 12 December 1912) was an English philanthropist and author writing about soldiers and navvies during the 1850s. The author of The Life and Friendships of Catherine Marsh (1917) wrote of Marsh’s 1836 meeting with her friend Caroline Maitland as love at first sight: “From the first meeting the two girls were mutually attracted”. Addressing her friend Catherine Marsh in 1862, twenty years after they first met, a married woman wrote, “My Katie, you were mine in 1842, and you have been twenty times more mine every year since,” reveling in friendship as the proud possession of a beloved intimate. Catherine Marsh wrote of how her fifty-year friendship with Harriet Dalrymple “grew and strengthened till Death did us part”.
Marsh was born in Colchester at the vicarage for St Peters church. Her mother was Maria Chowne Tilson and her father was William Marsh was a clergyman. She was born in 1818 and she lived with her father all her life. In the 1850 she was concerned about the soldiers bound for the Crimean War. She decided to write about the short life of a Christian soldier and Memorials of Captain Hedley Vicars was published in 1855. It was well read and 78,000 copies were sold in the first twelve months. Two years later she published a similar work English Hearts and English Hands which sympathetically described the navvies life having witnessed the workers who had been re-building the Crystal Palace. That book led to an exchange of letters with Julia Wightman who was an advocate for Temperance in Shrewsbury. In 1859 Wightman published her own book that included many of the letters. Marsh published The Life of Arthur Vandeleur, Major, Royal Artillery in 1862. In 1866 there was an outbreak of Cholera and Marsh created a convalescent home in Brighton. The following year she published a biography of her father who had died in 1864.
Catherine Marsh worked with Florence Nightingale and also in the cause of Anti-Slavery. Each year she printed little religious booklets, with true stories of Christian Work and People, which were distributed to the parishioners, who eagerly sought, read and treasured them. She also wrote other books, "The Master of Blantyre", "English Hearts and English Hands", "The Life of the Reverend William Marsh D.D.", "Evelyn, Marchioness of Ailsa" and others. She helped the Rector, the Rev. O’Rorke and his family a great deal in their philanthropic work, in the Sunday School treats and many other ways. Marsh was Aunt to the Reverend and Mrs. O’Rorke who lived at the lovely old Rectory, and they had quite a large family, Mr. Harry O’Rorke, one daughter (Ann Louisa Matilda) who became Lady Buxton (Miss Lulu), Miss Gwendoline and Miss Modwyn.
Marsh died in Feltwell rectory in Norfolk in 1912 and she was buried at Upshire, Essex. Five years after her death in 1917, The Life and Friendships of Catherine Marsh by Lucy Elizabeth Marshall O'Rorke was published.
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