Peter Marshall (Presbyterian minister)

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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, NY)
Previous postChaplain

Peter Marshall (May 27, 1902 – January 26, 1949) was a Scottish-American preacher, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., 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, a poverty-stricken coal-mining community, where he was reared by his mother and stepfather. From 1916-1921 he studied electrical engineering at Coatbridge Technical School. He enrolled in evening classes to study for the ministry, while working in the mines by day, but his progress was slow. In 1927, a cousin offered to pay Peter's way to the U.S., where he could receive proper ministerial training. He graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1931.[1][2]


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.[1][2]

Marriage and family[edit]

In Atlanta, Marshall met his future wife, Catherine Wood, then a student at Agnes Scott College. They married on November 4, 1936, and had one son, Peter John Marshall (January 21, 1940 – September 8, 2010), who 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.[3]

Later career[edit]

In 1937, Marshall became pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. 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.[4][page needed]

Marshall is buried at Fort Lincoln Cemetery (Section C, Lot 344, Site 1) in Brentwood, Maryland.[5]

Later years[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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

She died on March 18, 1983, at a hospital in Boynton Beach, Florida, after suffering a heart attack. She was buried at her request next to her first husband, Peter Marshall.[7]


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. ^ a b Balmer, Randall Herbert (2004). Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism. Baylor University Press. p. 427. ISBN 978-1-932792-04-1.
  2. ^ a b Kurian, George Thomas; Lamport, Mark A. (10 November 2016). Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 1422. ISBN 978-1-4422-4432-0.
  3. ^ "Reverend Peter J. Marshall Obituary (2010) Boston Globe".
  4. ^ Marshall 2002.
  5. ^ Find-a-Grave.
  6. ^ UPI. "Mrs. Catherine Marshall marries religious editor," The Dallas Morning News, November 15, 1959.
  7. ^ "Catherine Marshall LeSourd Dies". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
  8. ^ "Dr. Peter Marshall School".

External links[edit]

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