Mary Paley Marshall

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Mary Marshall
Mary Paley Marshall by AS or SA.png
crop from painting by AS or SA
Born Mary Paley
24 October 1850
Lincolnshire, England
Died 19 March 1944
Nationality British
Alma mater Cambridge University
Occupation Economist
Employer University College, Bristol, Oxford, The Marshall Library of Economics
Known for One of the first women to study at Cambridge University.
Spouse(s) Alfred Marshall

Mary Marshall (24 October 1850 – 19 March 1944), née Paley, was an economist and one of the first women to take the Tripos examination and to study at Newnham College as part of Cambridge University.


Paley was born in Lincolnshire, England, a daughter of Rev. Thomas Paley, Rector of Ufford, and a great-granddaughter of the eighteenth-century theologian and philosopher William Paley. She was educated at home, excelling in languages: in 1871, after performing well in rigorous entrance exams, she earned a scholarship to become one of the first five students at the recently founded Newnham College in Cambridge.[1] She took the Moral Sciences Tripos in 1874, and was classed between a first and second-class, though as a woman she was debarred from graduation. Paley sat the exam with Amy Bulley. They were some of the first women to take tripos examinations and they sat the exams in Marion and Benjamin Hall Kennedy's drawing room. Paley described Professor Kennedy as excitable, but he would sometimes doze whilst invigilating. The only evidence she was given of her work was a confidential letter from her examiners. Women sitting the tripos examination was a milestone for Cambridge University and the importance can be gauged by the people involved. The people who delivered Paley and Bulley's papers were Alfred Marshall, Henry Sidgwick, John Venn and Sedley Taylor.[2]

From 1875 to 1876 she was a Lecturer at Newnham.[1]

In 1876, she became engaged to Alfred Marshall who had been her economics tutor. In 1878 they moved to found the teaching of economics at University College, Bristol. In 1883 she followed him to Oxford, before the couple returned to Cambridge in 1885 where they built and moved into Balliol Croft, renamed Marshall House in 1991). Mary lectured on economics herself, and was asked to develop a book from her Cambridge lectures. Mary and Alfred wrote The Economics of Industry together, published in 1879. Alfred disliked the book, however, and it eventually went out of print, even with moderate demand for it.

Mary, a firm friend of Eleanor Sidgwick, kept up her association with Newnham College: she was an Associate from 1893 to 1912, twice (1891-4, 1907-9) a member of the College Council, and one of the original trustees of the Mary Anne Ewart Trust. However, her husband Alfred became increasingly obstructive to the cause of women's education, believing that women had nothing useful to say.[3] When Cambridge began to consider giving women degrees, he forsook friendships and respect to go against the movement. Mary was nevertheless totally devoted to her husband, and an important unofficial collaborator in his own economic writings. Alfred's major theoretical work was Principles of Economics: he is mentioned as the only author, but Mary may have done quite as much work as he did on the book.[citation needed]

After her husband died in 1924, Mary became Honorary Librarian of The Marshall Library of Economics at Cambridge, to which she donated her husband's collection of articles and books on economics. She continued to live in Balliol Croft until her death in 1944. Her ashes were scattered in the garden.[4] Her husband is buried in the Ascension Parish Burial Ground.[5]

She was a member of the Ladies Dining Society in Cambridge, with eleven other members.

Mary Marshall's reminiscences were published posthumously as What I Remember (1947).


  1. ^ a b Mary Paley Marshall, One of Five Original Newnham College Students, Newnham College, ArtUK, Retrieved 20 February 2017
  2. ^ Gill Sutherland (17 March 2006). Faith, Duty, and the Power of Mind: The Cloughs and Their Circle, 1820-1960. Cambridge University Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-521-86155-7. 
  3. ^ Rooms of Our Own | Lucy Cavendish College Archived 2011-11-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Lucy Cavendish College Site and Buildings" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-27. 
  5. ^ A Guide to Churchill College, Cambridge: text by Dr. Mark Goldie, pages 62 and 63 (2009)

Further reading[edit]

  • Cicarelli & Cicarelli (2003). Distinguished Women Economists. pp. 113–116. 
  • Marshall, Mary Paley (1947). What I Remember. 
  • Keynes, John Maynard (June–September 1944). "Mary Paley Marshall". Economic Journal.  Reprinted in Keynes (1972, 2010)
  • Keynes, John Maynard (2010) [1972]. Essays in biography.