Norval Marley

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Norval Sinclair Marley (circa 1885[1]–1955[2]) was a White Jamaican, notable for being the father of the reggae musician Bob Marley.

Marley was born in Jamaica to Albert Thomas Marley, an Englishman whose family originated from from Sussex,[3][better source needed] England, and Ellen Marley née Broomfield. Norval was a British Jamaican, however it has been rumoured that he was also of distant Syrian Jewish heritage.[4][5][6] During World War I he travelled to England where he joined the British Army in August 1916 at Liverpool, enlisting in the non-combatant Labour Corps (serving in the United Kingdom); he had previously been employed as a ferro-concreter in Cuba.[7][8]

Norval later claimed to be a captain[9] in the Royal Marines.[citation needed] He was a plantation overseer, when in 1944 he married Cedella Malcolm, an Afro-Jamaican then 18 years old.[10] Their relationship began when he was approximately 60 years old and she was 17.[11] Marley’s family was made up of British Jamaicans from the parish of Clarendon, but he relocated for work purposes to Saint Ann Parish where Cedella had grown up and resided.[11]

Cedella gave birth to their son Nesta Robert "Bob" Marley on 6 February 1945. No other children arose from this relationship and the couple separated after a short time. Norval provided financial support for his wife and child, but seldom saw them. Bob Marley never really came to know his father,[11] who died when he was 10.[2]


  1. ^ Year of birth presumed on the basis of the information that he was 70 years old when he died in 1955. Information about his age is contradictory; several articles suggest that he was 50 when Bob was born and others that he was 60. His ages on his service record average to c1885.
  2. ^ a b Moskowitz, David (2007). The Words and Music of Bob Marley. Praeger. p. 4. ISBN 0275989356. 
  3. ^ "Bob Marley's family on 'Welsh' roots". BBC Wales New Online. 2004-01-29. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Ivan (2003-06-29). "Interview with Heather Marley". Bobmarleymagazine. Retrieved 2013-09-22. 
  5. ^ Adam Chandler (2013-02-13). "Bob Marley’s Jewish Father". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  6. ^ "Bob Marley's family on 'Welsh' roots". BBC Wales New Online. 2004-01-29. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Norval Marley's First World War army service record is on, source images 72099 - 72134 (The National Archives document reference WO 363/M 945, images 510 - 545)
  8. ^ "Bob Marley's family on 'Welsh' roots". BBC Wales New Online. 2004-01-29. Retrieved 19 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Bob Marley: the regret that haunted his life Tim Adams, The Observer, Sunday 8 April 2012
  10. ^ Moskowtz, David Vlado (2007). The Words and Music of Bob Marley. Westport, Connecticut. p. 16. ISBN 0-275-98935-6, ISBN 978-0-275-98935-4.
  11. ^ a b c Davis,, Stephen (1985). Bob Marley. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company. ISBN 0385179561.