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P. J. Marshall

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter Marshall
Born1933 (age 86–87)
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work

Peter James Marshall, CBE, FBA (born 1933 in Calcutta) is a British historian known for his work on the British empire, particularly the activities of British East India Company servants in 18th-century Bengal,[1] and also the history of British involvement in North America during the same period.[2]

Early life and education

He was educated at Wellington College, Berkshire, and, following national service with the 7th (Kenya) Battalion, King's African Rifles, he took a first class honours degree in history at Wadham College, Oxford, from where he received a D.Phil. in 1962.[3]

Academic career and professional activities

Between 1959 and 1993, he taught in the history department at King's College London. He was appointed Rhodes Professor of Imperial History in 1980, in which post he remained until his retirement.

Between 1965 and 1978, he served as a Member of the Editorial Committee for The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, and between 1975 and 1981 he was Editor of The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History.[4] He sat on the History Working Group for National Curriculum in England in 1989 and 1990. In 1987 he was appointed Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society, serving as President between 1997 and 2001. He has been a notable benefactor to the Society.

He is an Emeritus Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at King's College London, where he continues to lecture.

British in India

Marshall presents a revisionist interpretation, rejecting the view that the prosperity of Mughal Bengal gave way to poverty and anarchy in the colonial period. He instead argues that the British takeover did not mark any sharp break with the past. After 1765, British control was delegated largely through regional rulers and was sustained by a generally prosperous economy for the rest of the 18th century, except for frequent famines with high fatality rates. Marshall also notes that the British raised revenue through local tax administrators and kept the old Mughal rates of taxation. His interpretation of colonial Bengal, at least until c. 1820, is one in which the British were not in full control, but instead were actors in what was primarily an Indian play, and in which their ability to keep power depended upon excellent co-operation with Indian elites. Marshall admits that much of his interpretation is still contested by many historians.[5]

Selected publications

  • The Impeachment of Warren Hastings, (Oxford, 1965)
  • The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, vol. V, (Cambridge, 1965) (Assistant Editor)
  • The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, vol. VII, (Cambridge, 1968) (Assistant Editor)
  • East Indian Fortunes: The British in Bengal in the Eighteenth Century, (Oxford, 1976)
  • The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, vol. X, (Cambridge, 1978) (Assistant Editor)
  • The Great Map of Mankind: British Perceptions of the World in the Age of Enlightenment, (London, 1982) (Co-editor with G. Williams)
  • The New Cambridge History of India, II, 2, Bengal: the British Bridgehead: Eastern India, 1740 – 1828, (Cambridge, 1988)
  • The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. II, The Eighteenth Century, (Oxford, 1998) (Contributor & Editor)[6]
  • A Free Though Conquering People': Eighteenth-century Britain and its Empire, (Aldershot, 2003)
  • The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India and America c. 1750 – 1783, (Oxford, 2005)[7]



A Junior Research Fellowship bearing his name, and jointly administered by the Royal Historical Society and the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London, where he is an honorary Fellow,[9] is awarded annually to a doctoral student in history.[10]


  • Marshall, P. J., East Indian Fortunes: The British in Bengal in the Eighteenth Century, (Oxford, 1976), pp. 284
  • Marshall, P. J.,The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India and America c. 1750 – 1783, (Oxford, 2005), pp. 398


  1. ^ Marshall, P. J. (1976). East Indian Fortunes: The British in Bengal in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. ISBN 978-0-19821-566-0.
  2. ^ Marshall, P. J. (2005). The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India and America c. 1750–1783. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19927-895-4.
  3. ^ "Marshall, Prof. Peter James". School of Advanced Study, University of London. Archived from the original on 21 August 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  4. ^ "The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History". Taylor & Francis Group. Archived from the original on 1 March 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  5. ^ Marshall, P. J. (1998). "The British in Asia: Trade to Dominion, 1700–1765". In Marshall, P. J. (ed.). The Oxford History of the British Empire: Vol. 2, The Eighteenth Century. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 487–507. ISBN 978-0-19820-562-3.
  6. ^ "Historiography". 14 May 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Catalogue: The 18th Century". Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
  8. ^ "Honorary degrees". School of Advanced Study, University of London. 15 December 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Honorary fellows". Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Awards". Institute of Historical Research. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2009.

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Rees Davies
President of the Royal Historical Society
Succeeded by
Janet Nelson
This page was last edited on 5 May 2020, at 07:22
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