Peter Marshall (preacher)

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Peter Marshall
Peter Marshall.jpg
Peter Marshall,194?
BornMay 27, 1902
Coatbridge (North Lanarkshire), Scotland
DiedJanuary 26, 1949(1949-01-26) (aged 46)
Alma materColumbia Theological Seminary
Senior posting
OrdinationPresbyterian, 193? (Ordained in Brooklyn)
Previous postChaplain

Peter Marshall (May 27, 1902 – January 26, 1949[1]) was a Scots-American preacher, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC and was appointed as Chaplain of the United States Senate.

He is remembered popularly from the success of A Man Called Peter (1951), a biography written by his widow, Catherine Marshall, and the book's 1955 film adaptation, which was nominated for an Academy Award for its cinematography.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Coatbridge (North Lanarkshire), Scotland, Marshall heard a strong calling to the ministry at a young age. Despite having no money, he emigrated to New York City in 1927 when he was 24. He graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1931.


He was called as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, a small, rural church in Covington, Georgia. After a brief pastorate, Marshall accepted a call to Atlanta's Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1933.

Marriage and family[edit]

In Atlanta, Marshall met his future wife, Catherine Wood, then a student at Agnes Scott College. They married on November 4th, 1936 and had one son, Peter John Marshall (January 21, 1940 – September 8, 2010).

Peter J. Marshall followed his father into the Presbyterian clergy and ran a national ministry, Peter Marshall Ministries, from Orleans, Massachusetts. He wrote many books on the Christian faith in the United States.

Later career[edit]

In 1937 Marshall became pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. In 1946 he was appointed as US Senate Chaplain, serving from January 4, 1947 until his sudden death of a heart attack just over two years later, at age 46.[2][page needed]

Marshall is buried at Fort Lincoln Cemetery (Section C, Lot 344, Site 1) in Brentwood, Maryland.[3]


  • Dr. Peter Marshall School in Anaheim, California is named for him.[4]
  • Catherine Marshall wrote a biography of her husband, A Man Called Peter (1951), which was a popular success.
  • It was adapted as a film of the same title, released in 1955, which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Cinematography.[5] Directed by Henry Koster, it featured Richard Todd as Peter Marshall, and Jean Peters as Catherine Marshall. Todd studied tape recordings of several Marshall sermons from 1947–48; some of these historic recordings were later released to the public by Caedmon Records.
  • The biography was also adapted as a stage play by the same name, produced in 1955.

Catherine Marshall developed a career as a writer, publishing more than 220 books. These included many editions of her late husband's sermons, several of her own inspirational books, and the best-selling novel Christy, inspired by her mother's accounts of her early teaching years in Appalachia.

In 1959 Catherine Marshall married Leonard LeSourd, executive editor of Guideposts magazine.[6]

Catherine died on March 18, 1983, and was buried at her request next to her first husband Peter Marshall.

Archival collections[edit]

The Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has an undated carbon copy transcript of Catherine Marshall’s biography, A Man Called Peter. The undated transcript includes penciled annotations. The Society also holds a collection of Marshall’s sermons from his years as a pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church and New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. The McCain Library at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia holds a large collection of papers donated by the estate of Catherine Marshall. Some of these papers included correspondence from Peter Marshall, photographs and recordings of him. Catherine Marshall donated a number of audio recordings of Peter Marshall's sermons to the U.S. Library of Congress.


  1. ^ Peter Marshall (MS Word .doc), UK: Peniel Ministries[permanent dead link].
  2. ^ Marshall 2002.
  3. ^ Find-a-Grave.
  4. ^ "Historical Roots - Dr. Peter Marshall". Retrieved December 17, 2012.
  5. ^ "1955 Academy Award Nomination".[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ UPI. "Mrs. Catherine Marshall marries religious editor," The Dallas Morning News, November 15, 1959.

External links[edit]

Religious titles
Preceded by
Frederick Brown Harris
57th US Senate Chaplain
January 4, 1947 – January 26, 1949
Succeeded by
Frederick Brown Harris