Rash's Surname Index

Notes for Moses MARSHALL

Moses Marshall was born in West Bradford, Pa., on 30 November 1758 to Humphry's younger brother, James, and Sarah Marshall. Moses received an English and classical education, and from 1776 through 1779, he studied medicine in Wilmington, Del., under Dr. Nicholas Way. The Revolution, and particularly the nearby Battle of the Branywine (1777), brought a unique opportunity to sharpen his surgical skills. Moses soon abandoned his medical practice in favor of assisting his uncle in his expanding botanical and horticultural enterprise.
By late 1778, he was participating fully in his uncle's operations, assisting in locating, identifying, propagating, and shipping, plant specimens, and he became quite a skilled "practical" botanist in his own right. His most significant contributions were in the preparation of Arbustrum Americanum, and the role he played on numerous exploring expeditions undertaken for the benefit of his uncle and their patrons. Moses appears to have taken great relish in these expeditions, and it was partly for his benefit that his uncle pressed scientific friends, including Franklin, Wistar, Jefferson (albeit indirectly), and members of the American Philosophical Society, to finance and organize a major expedition of the Missouri River region in 1785.
Moses' interest in botany appears to have waned by the mid-1790s, perhaps partly as a result of his involvement in a variety of other endeavors and partly for personal reasons. In 1796, Gov. Mifflin appointed him Justice of the Peace in Chester County, and his duties in this capacity occupied a great deal of his time. Moses' focus seems further to have shifted away from botany upon his marriage to Alice Pennock in 1797. The couple had six children. By the time of his uncle's death, Marshall had more or less washed his hands of the botanical and horticultural business, suggesting that he no longer had any time to fill orders for patrons and even that his uncle's notes probably held little information of value to other botanists. Darlington notes that, as a result of Moses' indifference, Marshall's garden subsequently fell into almost total neglect. Moses Marshall died in Philadelphia on October 13th, 1813.


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