A tribute to the life and work of Brian Torode

Marling Family of Woodchester, Clifton, Berkeley and Sharpness


with thanks to the late Ken Marling of Bromyard and Bev Rock from Australia

Samuel Marling of Woodchester


Robert Marling (1752-) of Woodchester / Rodborough


George Marling (1782c-1861) and Sarah Gould (1794-1855)

(He ran a Guest House in Clifton and from about 1840 was a Grocer of Berkeley)


Oliver George Marling (1827-1892) and Martha Eley (1834-1914) 

(Clerk of Sharpness Docks)


Frank George Marling (1863-1954) and Sarah Catherine Eley (1865-1951)

(Secretary of Sharpness Docks, Pilotage Agent & Agent for Capital and Counties Bank)


Kenneth George Marling (1904-1986)




Article by F.G. Marling dated 25th February 1943:

‘The story of our Marling antecedents, as told me by my father when I was a boy, began with the apprenticeship on the same day of five cousins in the Stroud district (their home district) to the cloth manufacturing trade. I quite think there were five, there may have been only four but my impression was five. Three of the five did not like it, and ran away. Those who remained made their fortunes, the others did not!


George Marling 1782-1861

One of those who ran away was our ancestor, either my grandfather George Marling or his father, but I always thought it was my grandfather. One of those who remained and made his fortune was either Sir Samuel Marling or his father, but I always understood it was Sir Samuel and that George and Samuel were cousins.

My grandfather and grandmother Marling died before I was born, but the story was always confirmed by my father’s sister, my aunt Eliza Marling (a spinster) who lived at Stonehouse (Glos) and died there in 1892. She once took me to Rodborough Tabernacle and showed me the tablets to the memory of the Marling family – our connections.

She used to relate the story of great-uncle Joab Marling, brother to George, who was a soldier, took part in the battle of Trafalgar, was pinned through the leg to the side of a ship he was boarding, but was released and recovered subsequently being one of Napoleon’s guards on St Helena and married Napoleon’s housekeeper. He (Uncle Joab) eventually lived retired at Stonehouse. Grandfather George once took my father to see him, driving all the way from Clifton where he (George) lived. To impress the distance on my father, then a boy, George gave my father a sweet every time they passed a milestone.

Grandfather George kept a Guest House in Royal York Crescent, Clifton. He married Sarah Gould of Christchurch, Hampshire, on the 14th Aug. 1819, at St John’s Church, Bristol (I have their marriage certificate). St John’s Church, at the bottom of Broad Street, was built on the City Wall and its tower rises above the only gate of Bristol that is left. I believe it has survived the enemy air raids on Bristol.

Sarah Gould’s family and relatives emigrated to New Zealand, presumably in the middle of the nineteenth century, and helped to found Christchurch, N.Z. As I have stated my grandfather (George) kept a guest house. His patron was Lady Tobin who lived also in Royal York Crescent, Clifton, and whose surplus guests were always sent to sleep at my grandfather’s. A treasured possession is the “black” picture which shows Lady Tobin and her two daughters – the elder, who became Mrs…. (I do not remember the name) and the younger, who became Lady Oliver.

My father was named Oliver George Marling, the “Oliver” being after Lady Oliver. When my father was a young boy (? 12-14) there was a parliamentary election in Clifton. Lady Tobin wanted my grandmother to drive round Clifton with her, on behalf of the Tory candidate, bedecked with blue ribands, etc.. Grandfather George was a staunch Liberal so Grandmother declined to accompany Lady Tobin, to the latter’s great annoyance. Feeling ran high in those days consequently Lady Tobin withdrew her patronage and no longer sent her guests to my grandfather, whose business therefore so much declined that he had to look around for something else.

This is why he went to Berkeley and took a small grocery business when my father was a young lad, presumably about 1840 or thereabouts. My father was the only son, his sister Eliza the only daughter. My father, Oliver George, married Martha Eley at Berkeley Union Chapel on 6th January, 1859. (I have their marriage certificate)

They had six children: 1. Allan Lancelot (died aged 74) 2. Frank George (myself) 3. Percy (died in infancy from an accident) 4. Grace Emily (died aged 14) 5. Alice Maud Mary (still living) 6. Kate Millicent (died aged 21). I Frank George had the good fortune to marry Sarah Catherine Eley, at Mount Pleasant Chapel, Falfield, Glos, on 7th September 1893 (I have the marriage certificate!)

This being our golden wedding year we are presenting to Mount Pleasant Chapel as a pulpit chair, our black oak hall chair which was in our house at Sudbury Court Drive when the house was wrecked by an enemy bomb falling on the other side of the road during the attack on London, on 20th October, 1940. Reverend Frank Quick, our son-in-law, is preaching at Mount Pleasant on Mch 14th, and will, on our behalf, make the presentation.’


Gould Family Dates – A page probably ripped from a Family Bible. The Goulds seem to have come from Christchurch in Hampshire.

Samuel Gould born February 7th 1756

Sarah Gould born March 9th 1761. Died March 14th 1843 aged 87 in 4 days

(In 1841 Sarah was living from her own means at Ringwood)

Sophia Gould born October 4th 1787. Died May 17th 1844

Ann Gould born January 13th 1790

John Gould born June 13th 1792

Sarah Gould born December 6th 1794

Mary Gould born January 24th 1797. Died June 1st 1848

Priscilla Gould born March 13th 1799 and died February 3rd 1826

Samuel Gould born November 20th 1801 and died July 20th 1827.

George Marling died November 23rd 1861 aged 79.



“The Marlings have lived in the Stroud area of Gloucestershire at least since the 16th century, for many years involved in the manufacture of woollen cloth. Samuel Marling died at Woodchester in 1748 and the Bishop’s Transcripts reveal many of the family there during the 18th century, including a George born in 1784. It was always understood that my great-grandfather George (shown in the 1851 Census as born at Woodchester in 1788) was one of several cousins learning the business, and that he and another ran away to find a more adventurous life. George’s brother, Joab apparently fought in the battle of Trafalgar, was pinned to the side of his ship through the leg, but survived and later became one of the garrison guarding Napoleon on St Helena. My aunt Alice had several Napoleonic relics, which were unfortunately sold on her death, including a carved ivory pen case. Joab and a colleague ran a market garden, supplying ships with fresh vegetables, but while Joab was on furlough his partner sold up and decamped with the proceeds!

George seems to have lived in London for a while, but later became butler to Lady Tobin in Clifton, Bristol. He married her maid, Sarah Gould, at St John’s Church, Bristol, on 14th August 1819, and I have the printed certificate issued by that church. George and Sarah opened a boarding house in Clifton under Lady Tobin’s patronage, which prospered until the Hon. Grantley Berkeley (a Liberal) was allowed to have his committee rooms there during a parliamentary election. This displeased Lady Tobin and her Tory friends and the business dwindled in consequence. Aunt Alice had a delightful pastel drawing of Lady Tobin’s daughter and a silhouette painted on glass of her and several of her family.

Eventually George moved to Berkeley where he opened a grocery business, probably encouraged by the Hon Grantley, with whom he was clearly on good terms, as I have a letter from Grantley to George written on 1 May 1855, expressing condolences on Sarah’s death, and addressed to “My good old friend”. Grantley was the youngest, and one of the few legitimate, sons of the 5th Earl of Berkeley, and the celebrated Mary Cole. It is said that Mary and her sister, a courtesan, were molested in London, and that Mary (then a teenager), finding her calls for help answered by the Earl promised that if he paid the 100 guineas demanded by their attackers he could have his way with her. This he did, and she bore him four sons before he married her. She was a very capable girl and gradually took over the Earl’s household and business affairs. He was much in love with her and to please her forged an entry in the Berkeley Marriage Register to prove that all the children were legitimate. A lengthy law suit was the result. A portrait by Hoppner of Mary Cole hangs in Berkeley Castle.

Grantley, who was a well-known “Corinthian”, was tall and heavily built, and handy with his fists – a contemporary wrote, “One of the drawbacks of walking with Berkeley was his liability to knock you down if you disagreed with him.”

Grantley’s letter goes on to describe a fire 6 miles long in the New Forest, the work of incendiaries. He says “every night there are the most dreadful fires, and all on account of the harsh bad management of the present Government and their Acts of Parliament”…”I fear too bad news from the seat of War (Crimea) and all owing to this Government, Yours faithfully and truly, Grantley F. Berkeley.” These sentiments have a very modern sound!

Oliver George was born at Clifton on 1st December 1826. At Berkeley he married Martha Eley in 1859. He worked for the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal Company for 44 years, much of the time walking 3 miles each way from Berkeley to Sharpness daily. For a time Martha kept a Baker’s shop, but she was too generous with poor payers and the venture was given up. They had three boys and three girls, my father being the second son. In September 1875, soon after the New Docks at Sharpness were opened the family moved there, where Oliver was Chief Clerk and Sub-Postmaster. He was concerned at the waste in the Pilotage service, rival pilots cruising in competition almost as far as the coast of France to pick up a vessel, and worked for an amalgamation which my father organised, under which a rota system worked, with the pilots sharing the income on a seniority basis.

Oliver died in 1892 and Martha survived him until 1914 – for most of this time she lived with my parents, but when Alice opened a Millinery business at Sharpness she moved to Newtown with her, but did not live long after. “Nana”, as we knew her, was part of my early childhood, and we were very fond of her.

Then the Gloucester Pilotage Board was formed in 1862, Oliver and the Harbour Master were asked if they would leave their remuneration to be settled until after the results of the first year’s working were known! Hardly modern trade union practice, but apparently accepted then.”



Information from Bev Rock who lives in Australia………….

‘I was delighted to come across this article with absolute gems about my family!

I have been working on my family tree for about a year and have managed an impressive list of dates but not much intimate details of my ancestors’ daily lives. It was wonderful to hear about George Marling and his brother Joab – my 4x great grandfather!!

I loved the story of George giving his son a sweet for every mile they covered on their journey to visit Joab;  also to know that Joab supplemented his army pay on St Helena by cultivating vegetables to supply passing ships but his partner up and sold the venture behind his back while he was away on furlough;  and how he got the leg injury – apparently many of the soldiers sent out to guard Napoleon were invalid to some degree as their duty there was not considered strenuous.

Because of this article I was able to trace the family back a couple more generations  and I believe I have identified the cousins (and later Marling baronets of Stroud) who made a fortune in the cloth trade.  (I can send this information if you are interested).

Do you know if George and Joab’s father, Robert, was married at Dursley in Gloucestershire on 15 November, 1773 to Jane Millard?   (A couple known by these same names, christened a son, Samuel,  in the same church a month later on 26 December.)

My family comes down thru Joab’s son James who was born in England in 1830 after the family left St Helena in the late 1820s.   He married in London and had several sons but something went awfully wrong and five of his little boys – aged 2 to 11 – were “deserted by mother” and admitted to the Raine Street Workhouse in London. The youngest, Arthur, was sent out into the country to be educated and later joined the army and sent to India.  In 1903 in Calcutta Arthur married an Irish girl, Selina “Lena” Colahan, whose father was also stationed there.    They had two children in India, including my grandmother, Mary Marling, in 1909.   Not long afterwards they migrated to Perth in Western Australia and my mother, Veronica, was born there in 1926.’

Further information from Bev Rock:

‘I have been busy the last few days and have not had time to “digest” the Marling connections you mention though I see that there is the connection between us through the brothers Joab and George – me thru Joab and you thru George* and his descendants the Eleys.

Joab and George’s father was Robert Marling ch. 22 Dec 1752 Woodchester, Gloc. Robert’s brother was Samuel Marling ch 31 Jan 1747/8 in the same place.   Samuel was the father of the dynasty of the Marlings of Stroud, Baronets, and wealthy cloth manufacturers who contributed the largest share of money for the establishment of Marling School.

* Just a bit of trivia…. George Marling had a twin sister, Ann.

The story of Joab in the regiment in St Helena guarding Napoleon and marrying there is quite a story.  St Helena was the last British colony to abolish slavery and the family Joab married into had slaves. The island in the mid Atlantic, a thousand miles off the coast of Africa, has always been isolated but a few weeks ago a new airport opened and the island will now be quite accessible.  I hope it does not lose its charm!

I would be grateful to hear any further details you might know of the Marling family and their descendants.’

Thank you Bev for this information.


Extract from the Reminiscences of Frank George Marling:

‘The Sharpness New Docks were opened on Wednesday 25 November 1874, between eight and nine in the morning. I was to have gone with my Father to the opening but it turned out such a pouring, wet morning that it was felt inadvisable that I should go. It would have meant walking nearly three miles each way besides standing about in an exposed place in the rain. My Father’s duties, as Clerk to the Dock Company, called him there, so of course he went. In the evening he told us how the “Director” was the first ship to enter, followed by the “protector”, both sailing vessels, assisted by tugs. Up to then the Dock Company’s Sharpness office was at the Old Dock, where Father was in charge, he being assisted by a young man names Joseph Sturge. With the opening of the New Docks the Dock Company decided to have an office there and to transfer my father there, giving him a young man, Harry Hall, to assist him, Mr. Sturge remaining at the Old Dock office, and to be accountable to father. The Dock Company said they would build an office, with dwelling house attached, for my father, as they wished him to live on the spot instead of walking from and to Berkeley as he had done for some 25 years. Meanwhile they fitted up the ground floor of one of the houses originally intended for lockmen, but till then occupied by the dock contractors, and the house next door forming part of the same block, together with two of the bedrooms over the offices, was allocated to father as a dwelling house, and thither we moved in September 1875. (The new office and dwelling house was never built).’

Extracts from the Running Tide by Kenneth Marling:


‘In my grandfather’s time the river pilots worked individually, or in small groups, running their own cutters in which they cruised around for vessels bound for Sharpness, sometimes sailing nearly to the coast of France to outdo rivals. The Gloucester Pilotage Board was formed in 1862, when the Harbour Master at Sharpness was appointed Collector of Dues, and Grandfather his clerk. A letter from the Board of 16 May of that year enquired whether they would be will for the amount of their remuneration to remain to be settled when the results of the first year’s working were known! It appears that they were – a modern shop steward’s comments on such an arrangement would be worth hearing! There was much waste in the competitive system, and both Grandfather and my Father urged them to amalgamate, which they eventually did in my Father’s time. He was appointed Agent to arrange rotas, calculate the charges payable, and divide the net income between the pilots on a basis involving seniority. Many and varied were the problems involved, but when I came to take an interest things were working smoothly…’

Grandfather had been the Chief Clerk at the Old Dock and Father followed him in serving the Dock Company for a time, but later her kept on only the Pilotage and Bank Agencies…’

‘Nana, Father’s mother, died in 1914, and we all walked over to the Church at Newtown for the funeral service, the girls in white silk dresses, and black stockings and boots. They went on to the Cemetery at Berkeley, but I was considered too young, and Mother tooke home.’


  1. MARTHA MARLING, cousin of James Eley IV and wife of Oliver George Marling

Martha Eley was born on 31st October 1834 at Berkeley. She married Oliver George Marling at the Union Chapel, Berkeley, on 6th January 1859. He was born in 1827, the son of George Marling, a grocer in Berkeley from 1841-1863 (David Tandy’s ‘Berkeley – A town in the marshes’). On the marriage certificate Oliver George Marling was described as a 31-year-old Clerk whilst she was a 24-year-old woman with ‘no calling’.


Martha Marling

At the time of the 1861 census they were living in Canonbury Street, Berkeley. Oliver G. Marling was aged thirty-four-years and described as a Clerk in the Canal Office and Telegraph Clerk, born in Clifton. Martha was his twenty-six-year-old wife, born in Berkeley and there so was Alan L. Marling, aged seven months, and born in Berkeley. In 1863 Oliver George Marling was described as a baker and confectioner of Berkeley (David Tandy’s ‘Berkeley – A town in the marshes’) He worked for the Canal Company at Sharpness for forty-four years and he became Secretary to Sharpness Docks.


Oliver George Marling

At the time of the census in 1871 Martha Marling was staying with her brother Edward at 14 Dighton Street, Bristol. She was described as a married thirty-six-year-old sister who was born in Berkeley. She had with her two of her children Grace aged three years and Frank George aged eight years, both born in Berkeley. Meanwhile Oliver George was back at home in Salter Street, Berkeley, a forty-four-year-old Clerk in the Canal Office, born at Clifton. Their son Alan Lancelot Marling was also at home aged ten-years, a scholar, born in Berkeley.


Martha Marling

In 1881 Oliver George Marling was the fifty-four-year-old Postmaster and Dock Office Clerk at Sharpness, born in Clifton. His wife Martha was aged forty-six-years and born at Berkeley; Allan L. Marling, a twenty-year-old Postmaster’s Clerk; Frank G. Marling an eighteen-year-old Postmaster’s Clerk; Grace E. aged thirteen a scholar; Alice M. M. aged nine years a scholar and Kate M. aged six years a scholar. All the children were born in Berkeley.

In 1891 they were shown in the return as living at 9 Dock Row, Sharpness. Oliver G. Marling was the Company’s clerk aged sixty-four-years and born in Clifton; Martha was the fifty-six-year-old Sub Postmaster. Frank G. Marling was described as a twenty-eight-year-old Clerk; Alice M.M. Marling was a nineteen-year-old Postmistress’s Assistant and Kate M. was aged sixteen years.


Martha Marling

Oliver George Marling died on 31st August 1892.

In 1901 Martha Marling was living with her son Frank and his family at 9 Dock Row, Sharpness. She was described as a sixty-six-year-old Widow born in Berkeley.

Martha died on 6th July 1914. The Marling Family knew her as “Nana”.

 Obituary (1892):

‘In Loving Memory of Oliver George Marling, for 44 years in the service of the Gloucester & Berkeley Canal Co. who entered into rest 31st August 1892, aged 65 years’


Frank G. Marling: ‘The First Fifty Years of Union Church, Sharpness 1880-1930,  published by T & W Goulding, Printers and Publishers, Nelson Street, Bristol, 1930.

  1. The 25thAnniversary


In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the church, a Re-union was held on 25th January, 1905. Many old scholars and teachers were present in response to over 400 personal invitations sent out.

After a capital tea, Mr. Geo. Field presided at the Re-union Meeting, supported by Rev. W. Bailey, …, F.G. Marling, …

Others present included … Mrs. M. Marling…


Obituaries (1914):


‘Marling – On July 6th at Sea View House, Sharpness, after long suffering, Martha Marling, widow of Oliver George Marling, aged 79.’

‘Death of Mrs Marling, Senior. – The death of Mrs Marling, Senior. Early on Monday morning last, removed one of the oldest residents of Sharpness, Mrs Marling, who was well on in her 80th year, having come with her husband (the late Mr O.G. Marling) to reside in Sharpness in September 1875.

The late Mr Marling, who died in 1892, was for over 40 years connected with the Dock and Pilotage Services, and for some years was also sub-postmaster. Since her husband’s death, the deceased lady for the most part resided with her second son, Mr F.G. Marling, at the Bank, but some nine months ago went to live with her surviving daughter who had come to Sharpness and had purchased a business at Sea View house, Newtown, where Mrs Marling passed away, surrounded by her family, after a long illness, patiently borne.

The funeral took place on Wednesday last, amidst every token of respect. The Rev. W. Bailey conducted the first part of the funeral service in the Union Church, whither the body was carried by six pilots of the Port, namely Messrs. T.H. Price, T. Langford, A Price, J. Williams, J.G. King and R.W. Everett, who acted as bearers throughout. The mourners included Mr Allan L. Marling, Mr F.G. Marling (sons), Miss Marling (daughter), Mrs A.L. Marling and Mrs F.G. Marling (daughters-in-law), Miss Connie Marling, Miss Kathleen Marling and Miss Ruth Marling (grand-daughters), Master Kenneth Marling (grandson), Mr Ernest Eley (cousin), Mr L. Davies etc. Others present were: Mr J.V. Thomas (traffic manager), Capt. F. Field (Harbour Master), Mr J. Sturge, Mr Hy Mills (pilot), Mr J. Tanner (pilot), Mr E. Phillips (pilot), Mr H. Atkins (deacon), Mr F. Wakeham, Mr A.J.T. Chandler, a number of ladies connected with the Church and other friends.

As the coffin was carried into and out of the Church, Miss Field (Church Organist) played the Dead March in Saul and other appropriate music. After the service the body was placed in a glass hearse and covered with flowers and with the male relatives and friends in coaches the cortege proceeded to Berkeley Cemetery, being joined en route by the Rev T Wesley Brown (Pastor of Union Church, Berkeley, with which the deceased was connected in her early days), Mr B. Fear (Senior Deacon, and a life-long friend), Messrs. George Morgan and E. Morgan (pilots).

The committal service was read by the Rev. W. Bailey and prayer offered by the Rev. T. Wesley Brown. The coffin was of solid unpolished oak with brass fittings, and was supplied by Messrs. H. Price and Son, Wanswell, who carried out the whole of the funeral arrangements in a most efficient manner. The wreaths were as follows:- In sacred memory of dear mother from Allan, Mab and Connie. In loving memory of dear Mother , from Frank and Kate; In loving memory of a devoted Mother, from Alice; In loving memory of dear Grandma, from Lancelot; In loving memory of dear Grandma, from Donald; In loving memory of dear Grandma, Reg and Rene; From the old garden, in loving memory of dear Grandma, from Kathleen, Ruth and Kenneth; In very kind memory, Mr and Mrs J.S. Eley; With deepest and loving sympathy from the Ayliffe Family; With loving memories, Mrs Davies. Beautiful floral decorations were also arranged at the house and in the Church by the Rev. W. Bailey.’…’

The children of Oliver George and Martha Marling were second cousins of Ernest Edward Eley, Great Grandfather of Richard Barton:


Allan Lancelot Marling was born in 1860 at Berkeley and died in 1935. He was baptised on 16th April 1884. He was at home for the 1861 census aged seven months and for the 1871 census when he was at home with his father and described as a ten-year-old scholar. In 1881 he was still at home and was a twenty-year-old Postmaster’s Clerk. He was baptised as an adult at Berkeley Parish Church on 16th April 1884 at Berkeley. He was described in the register as a clerk of Shrpness, son of Oliver George Marling, a clerk, and his wife Martha.

He became Postmaster at Sharpness in the days when trunk calls had to be routed through manually, and someone had to get up to connect to the next exchange any night calls. He married Mary Annie Bryant. Their children were baptised at Berkeley Parish Church and he was described in the Register as Postmaster at Sharpness.

At the time of the 1891 census Allan L. Marling was at the Post Office, Sharpness, aged thirty-years. His wife, Mary A. Marling was aged thirty-one-years and born at Newbury. Their children included Allan L.G. aged three years and born at Berkeley and Constance aged one and born in Berkeley. Catherine long was living with them as a companion and Adelina Spill was a female servant.

In 1901 Allan L. Marling was still the Postmaster at Sharpness. He was aged forty-years and born at Berkeley. His wife Mary A. was aged forty and born in Berkeley; Allan L.G. Marling, aged thirteen, Constance M. aged eleven and Kathleen I. M. Marling aged seven years. Laura Peglar was described as their ‘Mother’s Help’

Allan and Mary Ann had three children – Allan Lancelot George Marling or Lance, who was born on 13th November 1887 at Berkeley, baptised at Berkeley Parish Church on 13th November 1887, and who married Elsie Lister and had three children Bobbie, Margaret and John; Constance Mary who was born on 13th April 1890, Baptised on 13th April 1890 at Berkeley Parish Church and Kathleen Irene Martha who was born on 25th March 1894, baptised on 25th March 1894 at Berkeley Parish Church and died in 1916. Irene married Reginald Miller in 1913 but after her death in 1916 he married her younger sister, Constance in 1919.

Allan Lancelot Marling later married Mary Ann Bratton (1863-1946). They are buried in Berkeley Public Cemetery. The inscription offers these details – Allan Lancelot, Husband of M.A. Marling, nee Bratton 23rd May 1935, aged seventy-four-years, and Mary Ann who died 11th September 1946, aged eighty-two-years. The grave stone includes a Masonic symbol.

Extract from the Reminiscences of Frank George Marling:

‘Soon, however, the Dock Office was established next door, and with Father so close at hand Mother felt more secure. With the advent of the Dock Office, my father, who was in charge of the same, was also appointed Sub Postmaster, and the Post Office was moved from the wooden shop where it had till then been located, near the old “Shanty” (a Public House overlooking the canal near the Old Dock) to one of the rooms in the Dock Offices side of our block. The old Post Office and shop had to be pulled down to make way for a coal tip. Allan had left school by the time we went to Sharpness, and he was installed as Father’s assistant in the Post Office work while Father had a young man named Harry Hall to help him in the Dock Office. It will be realised that in those early days there was hardly any permanent residents at Sharpness other than Dock officials, so it was natural that the Dock Company had to nominate one of their staff to take over the postal duties. The letter box was cleared once a day, at five o’clock, and there was one delivery, the letters being sent out from, and despatched to, Berkeley (by a postman on foot) under which office Sharpness was a sub-office.’

Extract from the Running Tide by Kenneth Marling:

‘Next came the Post Office, my uncle Allan being the Postmaster. Telegrams were transmitted by Morse key, an experienced operator being able to reach a high speed. Arranging trunk telephone calls was a slow business, as each stage had to be manually connected and a long distance call could involve several stages. Often in the night uncle or Aunt Pollie had to get up to connect a call through. Next to the Post Office was a tin tabernacle, a branch of St. Andrew’s Waterside Mission, at which my uncle assisted as Lay Reader. He often took the services at Purton, about three miles up river, being driven there by Joubert Miles, our local Jehu.’

Frank G. Marling: ‘The First Fifty Years of Union Church, Sharpness 1880-1930,  published by T & W Goulding, Printers and Publishers, Nelson Street, Bristol, 1930.

Mr. William Francis, who was superintending the erection of the stonework of the Severn Bridge, was chosen as the first Sunday School Superintendent, Mr. A. L. Marling Secretary, and Mr. F.G. Marling, Librarian, with Mrs. Johnson (now Mrs. Atkins) Treasurer.

Dursley Gazette January 26th 1935 ‘Local Personalities’:

‘Mr A.L. Marling who, as reported elsewhere in this issue, is shortly retiring after nearly 60 years’ association with Post Office work at Sharpness. Mr Marling’s father, Mr O.G. Marling, was the first operator appointed when the Electric Telegraph Service was introduced between Sharpness and Gloucester in 1858, and he remained in charge when the Government took over the service. Mr A.L. Marling, who entered the Postal Service on June 1st1867 was appointed postmaster on his father’s death in 1892, and he has thus held the appointment for over 40 years. Mr Marling is well-known as a lay reader in the Sharpness and Berkeley districts and for 14 years he was in charge of St John’s Church, Purton.’

Newspaper  March 27th1913:

‘Interesting Wedding at Sharpness – Miller- Marling. Great interest was taken in the marriage solemnized at St Andrew’s Church, Sharpness, on Thursday last – the bide being a well known and popular young lady, whose family has for many years taken a prominent part in the business and social life of the Port.

This was Miss Kathleen Irene M. Marling, younger daughter of Mr and Mrs Allan L. Marling, of the Post Office, Sharpness, and the bridegroom was Mr Reginald A. Miller, youngest son of Mr H. Miller, of “Glen Helen,” Rugby.

A curious fact transpired in connection with the marriage, this being that Miss Irene Marling was the first Miss Marling of this branch of the family to become a bride for at least 130 years.

The Church, which was tastefully decorated, was crowded for the ceremony. The Rev A.C.R. Clarke (Chaplain of the Port) officiated and during the service hymns 350 and 280, A and M., were sung. Miss Heaven presiding at the organ.

The bride was given away by her father, looking charming in her dress of ivory satin, with pearl and guipure lace trimmings, white tagel hat with ostrich plume, and wearing an amethyst and gold pendant, the bridegroom’s gift. She carried a shower bouquet of choice arum lilies and azaleas.

There were four bridesmaids. Miss Connie Marling (sister of the bride), and Miss Amy Miller (sister of the bridegroom) wore dresses of blue satin, with black tagel hats and ostrich plumes. Their bouquets were of pale pink carnations and white tulips. The Misses Kathleen and Ruth Marling (cousins of the bride) wore pretty white embroidered silk dresses with hats to match, and carried baskets of carnations and white tulips. They all wore gold brooches, the gifts of the bridegroom.

The bouquets – which were much admired – were the gift of Mr Allan L.G. Marling (the bride’s brother) who was unavoidably prevented from attending the ceremony.

Mr George Spragg of Worcester (friend of the Bridegroom) acted as best man, and Mr Ronald Smith was Master of Ceremonies. The guests at the reception included: The Rev A.C.R. and Mrs Clarke; Miss Clarke; Mr and Mrs Miller; Miss Miller; Mr and Mrs F.G. Marling; Master Kenneth Marling; Miss Marling; Mrs and Miss Benton; Miss Bratton; Miss Brinkworth; Miss Carmen Brinkworth; Miss Ada Davis; Mr J. Vincent Thomas; Miss Thomas; Capt and Miss Field; Mrs Johnson; Miss Saunders; Miss Tilley; Mrs Robert Smyth; Mrs W.J. Pepworth; Miss Gasser; Miss Ada Starr; Miss Cissie Wilkes; Mrs Barrett; Mr Stan Field; Mr Aubrey Wakeham, Mr Ronald Smith.

Mr and Mrs Miller were given a hearty send off on leaving for their future home, 33 Penbury Street, Worcester. The bride’s travelling dress was a pale grey cloth costume with purple tagel hat.

Flags were flown on the ships and public buildings of the Port to mark the occasion. During the day, numerous congratulatory telegrams were received. Miss Field of Saul made the bride’s dress and that of the bride’s mother. The bridesmaids’ dresses were made by Miss Organ of Sharpness. Miss Marling of Seaview, Sharpness, supplied the hats for the bridal party. The wedding presents were of a handsome and useful description, as follows…’

Obituary Notice 1916:

‘Miller – December 9th at the Post Office, Sharpness, Irene Miller, the beloved younger daughter of Allan and Mary Marling, and wife of Sapper R.A. Miller (on active service) late of Penbury Street, Worcester, Aged 22’

Births, Marriages and Deaths Jan 1919:

‘Miller-Marling – At Thornbury on Saturday 11th inst., Sapper Reginald A. Miller, R.E. to Miss Constance Mary Marling, only surviving daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Allan Marling. The Post Office, Sharpness (By licence).’

‘Marriage of Miss Constance Marling – The Wedding took place at Thornbury on Saturday last of Sapper Reginald A. Miller (Royal Engineers), of Rugby, to Miss Constance Mary Marling, only surviving daughter of Mr and Mrs Allan Marling of Sharpness Post Office. Owing to recent bereavements in the bridegroom’s family, the ceremony was of a quiet character, only intimate relatives being present. The happy couple subsequently left for the honeymoon, which is being spent at Bath. They were the recipients of numerous presents, the bridegroom especially being exceedingly popular among a wide circle of friends. Sapper Miller has seen considerable service in France and on the Italian front.’

Frank George Marling (1863-1954) (Second Cousin and brother-in-law of Ernest Edward Eley, Great Grandfather) was born in Berkeley. At the time of the 1871 census eight-year-old Frank was staying with his Uncle Edward at 14 Dighton Street, Bristol. He was accompanied by his mother and sister Grace. In 1881 he was at home aged eighteen years and described as a ‘Postmaster’s Clerk’ and in 1891 still at home, a Clerk, aged twenty-eight-years. Frank Marling married his second cousin, Sarah Catherine Eley on 7thSeptember 1893 at Mount Pleasant Chapel, Falfield, and had issue. (See under the entry for his wife, Sarah Catherine Marling)


Details: 7th September 1893, Frank George Marling, 30 years, bachelor, Dock Clerk, Sharpness, Berkeley, son of Oliver George Marling (deceased) Dock Clerk and Sarah Catherine Eley, 28 years, Spinster, Tortworth, James Eley (deceased) Farmer at Mount Pleasant Chapel, Falfield, rites & Ceremonies of the Independents, by certificate. Witnesses: James Shield Eley, Florence Mary Eley, Allan Lancelot Marling. Minister – W.H. Jones, Henry Codrington – Registrar

(Rev W.H. Jones was probably the Minister at Berkeley Union/Sharpness Union – Marlings were largely responsible for setting up of Sharpness Union Church)


Sarah Catherine Marling

Frank later became Secretary of Sharpness Docks, Pilotage Agent and Agent for the Capital and Counties Bank. He was also a Founder Member, Deacon, Sunday School Superintendent, and Secretary of Sharpness Union Chapel.


At the time of the 1901 census Frank and his family were living at 9 Dock Row, Sharpness. He was described as a thirty-eight-year-old Dock Clerk and Bank Agent, born in Berkeley. His wife Sarah c. Marling was aged thirty-five-years and born in Berkeley. Their children included Donald J. aged six years; Kathleen A. aged five years and Ruth M. Marling aged one year. All the children were shown as born in Sharpness. With them was his mother, Martha Marling, a sixty-six-year-old widow, born in Berkeley.


Sarah Catherine Marling

When Frank retired in 1931 he and his wife moved to Esk House, Coombe Terrace, Wotton-under-Edge Later they later moved to Gloucester and then to Harrow. Sarah died on 2nd March 1951 at the age of eighty five. Frank felt lonely after his wife’s death and formed an attachment with a woman in Harrow, whom he married at 89. Frank married Elizabeth Weaver (Lewis) who was to survive him twenty six years. Sarah Catherine and Frank had four children.


‘Mr and Mrs Marling send loving greetings to their four children and partners; to their eight grandchildren, to their surviving brothers and sisters and to other relatives and friends on the 80th Anniversary of their first meeting at Morton, Nr Thornbury, Glos. The first week in May 1867. Vividly remembered by the first named. Happy still to be spared to each other at 55, Radnor Road, Harrow, Middlesex May 1947.

Frank George Marling of Sharpness, Glos. (Born at Berkeley, Glos., 7thJanuary 1863) Sarah Catherine (Kate) Eley of Tortworth, Glos. (born at Morton 17th April 1865) Became Engaged at Tortworth Lake, 1st May, 1893. Married at Mount Pleasant Chapel, Falfield, Glos on 7th September, 1893’

‘September 7th 1893 Sarah C. (Kate) Eley – Frank G. Marling – with Mr & Mrs Frank G. Marling’s Compliments – Ivy Lawn, Sharpness’

6 Eley V Gt 2 4 2 2 ha.jpg

Percival James Marling (1865-1867) Little Percy fell onto a pair of scissors, which pierced his jugular vein, and he bled to death in a few minutes.

Extract from the Reminiscencies of Frank Marling:

My Father and Mother’s third child, my brother Percy, was born on 1st April 1865. He was a bright, intelligent little fellow, and was a great delight to my Father who, when he returned home of an evening, found much pleasure in nursing and playing with him. Alas! The happiness was short-lived. One day on 7 March 1867, when little Percy was a year and eleven months old, my Mother was sewing by the sitting room window, with Percy standing on his chair by her side. Mother had put her scissors where she thought he could not reach it, but unnoticed by her he managed to get it, over-balanced himself, and fell on the floor, the points of the scissors entered his jugular vein. Instantly he was bleeding profusely. The nearest skilled assistance was a Chemist not many yards away. Someone ran for him, and he tried to stop the bleeding, but could not do so, and before a Doctor could be obtained the poor little child had bled to death. Indeed, had a doctor been on the spot it is doubtful if he could have saved the dear child’s life. This was a great blow to my Mother, and a terrible shock to my Father when he arrived home not long after.

I can see now the pathetic funeral procession as it passed round the corner of the Market Place into Marybrook Street on the way to the cemetery. My brother Allan was among the followers but I was too young to go to the funeral. Years afterwards, I used to lie awake at night and wish, oh so much, that I had my brother Percy. Especially was this so when the two years and more by which my brother Allan was older than me, for a time put him beyond me in choice of chums and playmates.

Grace Emily Marling (1868-1882) was born in Berkeley. At the time of the 1871 census three-year-old Grace was staying at her Uncle Edward’s at 14 Dighton Street, Bristol. She was accompanied by her mother and brother Frank. In 1881 she was at home and described as a thirteen-year-old scholar. Grace Emily was buried at Berkeley Parish Church on 15th July 1882 aged fourteen years.

Alice Maud Mary Marling (1871-1966) was born on 28th May 1871 at Berkeley. At the time of the 1881 census she was at home, aged nine years, a scholar and in 1891 she was a nineteen-year-old Postmistress’s Assistant and living at Home. She lived for a time at Seaview, Sharpness and died aged ninety-five-years.

Extracts from the Running Tide by Kenneth Marling:


‘Father encouraged an interest in Natural History, teaching us much on our rambles, both in our own neighbourhood and over the river in the ancient and beautiful Forest of Dean. We were sometimes joined by his sister Alice, a rather vinegary old maid and not welcomed by us children. Her horror when confronted by a bullock with wide sweeping horns, as we rounded a corner in a hedge near Berkeley Pill, filled us with glee.’

‘My Aunt Alice kept a milliners shop at Newtown, and in her sitting room behind the shop she made up hats from the narrow coils of plaited straw at an amazing speed. This room was well stocked with books, which were much nearer to her heart than the business, and for my part I spent many hours poring through “Harmsworth’s Popular Science” and Arthur Mee’s “My Magazine”, both issued periodically. There are now no children’s periodicals to equal the latter, which was full of beautiful illustrations and interesting articles for children. Most weekends Aunt Alice succumbed to a bilious attack, and bound a vinegar bandage round her head. Visiting her in this state, in a darkened bedroom, was an ordeal we dreaded, but Mother considered it was our duty to visit the sick…’

Extract from the Flowing Tide by Kenneth Marling:


‘In 1933 Father and Mother came to Gloucester, and Father’s sister, Alice, sold her millinery business at Sharpness and followed them to live not far away. She had clung to them and her other brother, Allan, since returning to Sharpness from Swansea, and later followed them to Harrow. She was always a clinging vine.’

Frank G. Marling: ‘The First Fifty Years of Union Church, Sharpness 1880-1930,  published by T & W Goulding, Printers and Publishers, Nelson Street, Bristol, 1930.

  1. The Choir

… Others serving as assistant organists have included Miss A. Marling…

July, 1930


Missionary Secretary – Miss A.M. Marling


Vice-President – Mr. F.G. Marling

Pianists – Miss A.M. Marling and …


Intermediate Dept. – … Miss A.M. Marling, …’


Kate Millicent Marling (1874-1895) was born in about 1875 at Berkeley. In the 1881 census she was at home aged six years and ten years later still at home aged sixteen.

Obituary card:

‘In loving memory of Kate Millicent Marling, ‘who fell asleep in Jesus’ 1stJune 1895. Aged 21 years. “The Lord had need of her.” Interred in Berkeley Cemetery.’




See also:

5 comments on “Marling Family of Woodchester, Clifton, Berkeley and Sharpness

  1. Jill Moore
    August 8, 2017

    Many thanks for sharing this Richard. Especially fascinating for me as Rev Arthur Clarke is my ancestor! Jill Moore (nee Clarke)

    • Richard Barton
      August 8, 2017

      Dear Jill,

      Thank you so much for your comment. If there is any more information that you can add I would be most grateful. With kind regards Richard

  2. Richard Barton
    March 1, 2018

    Hi Richard,

    Thank you for allowing me to use some of the material posted on your website – it will be great to add some images of Frank and the family he writes about in his memoirs to add life to his writing – I will make sure to add a reference to your website at the bottom of my posts for any images or material used.

    For more information about the website and the blog posts, you can look at – as part of my contribution to the project, I have chosen to write about Frank’s memoirs: ‘Reminiscences’. You can look at the posts I upload using this link if you would like –

    My posts are to analyse and give details about Frank’s memoirs to contribute to a collaborative research project online about working-class lives and writing.

    As part of my posts about his memoirs, I wanted to use some of the additional information you have given about his life and writing about the Sharpness Union Church to add to the details about his life.

  3. Pingback: Frank George Marling (1863-1954): Home and Family – Part One – Writing Lives

  4. Pingback: Frank George Marling (1863-1954): Home and Family – Part Two – Writing Lives

Leave a Reply to Richard Barton Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: