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Biographical entry Marshall, Charles Frederick (1864 - 1940)

MRCS 9 May 1889; FRCS 8 June 1893; MB BCh Manchester 1889; BSc 1883; MSc 1886; MD 1890; LSA 1888.

13 February 1864
22 May 1940


Born at Birmingham, 13 February 1864, the fifth son and youngest child of William Prime Marshall, a civil engineer, and Laura Stark, his wife, who was a niece of William Stark, the artist. His father was for many years secretary of the Institute of Civil Engineers and was an enthusiastic naturalist. His elder brother Arthur Milnes Marshall (1852-93), who was killed accidentally whilst climbing in the Lake district, was a brilliant pupil of Francis Balfour at Cambridge. He did much to advance the study of embryology, more especially in connection with the development of the nervous system in the chick. There is a notice of his life and work in the Dictionary of National Biography Supplement, vol 3, 1901.

Charles Frederick Marshall was educated at Owens College and at the Victoria University, Manchester, where he was Dauntes medical scholar, Platt physiological scholar, Dalton natural history prizeman, and senior physiological exhibitioner. He came to London and acted as house surgeon at the North Eastern Hospital for Children, and in 1893 was surgical registrar to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children. He then practised for a time at Edgbaston, Birmingham, but soon returned to London as resident medical officer at the London Lock Hospital and afterwards surgeon to the British Skin Hospital in the Euston Road, which closed in 1905. During 1908-14 he was surgeon to the Blackfriars Hospital for Diseases of the Skin. In the war of 1914-18 he acted as a civilian medical officer attached as dermatologist to the RAMC, a position he continued to hold for two years after the armistice.

For some years before his death he was interested in John Beard's theory that cancer was of embryonic origin and was not a local disease. He published an account of his views in two parts in 1932. The first dealt with a method of diagnosing cancer through the blood, using polarized light in precancerous conditions and in cases with a strong family history of the disease. Part 2 dealt with the danger of radium in its present form and with a method of sterilization in order to produce helium, which he considered to be an essential factor in the cure of cancer by eradication and neutralization of the blood. Five years later he was using thorium sulphate in place of radium, with injections of ferric chloride. His views met with considerable criticism, but he was not deterred from continuing his work.

He married in 1908 Blanche, elder daughter of W H Emmet; she survived him with one son. He died on 22 May 1940 at 69 The Drive, Golders Green, NW11. Marshall began life brilliantly but never shone like his more brilliant brother. He was better fitted for the life of a scientific than that of a medical man. He was perhaps dominated by the artistic inheritance which came through his mother.


Some investigations on the physiology of the nervous system of the lobster. Stud Biol Lab Owens Col Manchester, 1886, 1, 313.
Observations on the structure and distribution of striped and unstriped muscle in the animal kingdom, and a theory of muscular contraction. Quart J microsc Sci 1888, 28, 75; 1890, 31, 65.
The thyro-glossal duct or "canal of His". J Anat Physiol 1892, 26, 94.
Variations in the form of the thyroid gland in man.Ibid 1895, 29, 234.
An analysis of thirty-seven cases of excision of the hip, with Bilton Pollard. Lancet, 1892, 2, 186; 254; 302.
Syphilis and gonorrhoea. London, 1904.
Syphilology and venereal disease, with E G ffrench. London, 1906; 4th edition: Syphilis and venereal diseases, 1921.
A new theory of cancer and its treatment Bristol, part 1, March 1932; part 2, September 1932.
New treatment of cancer. Med World, 1939, 50, 292.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1940, 1, 956; information given by Mrs Marshall; personal knowledge].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England