An early Bahá’í, Emily Eastgate, recorded in her diary in 1948 details about the first Bahá’í in Birmingham. This was John Ludlow Marshall, a tinsmith from Scotland. He had come to the city with his family around 1900. John became a Bahá’í after he had the bounty of meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (son of Bahá’u’lláh, and head of the Bahá’í Faith from 1891-1921) during both of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visits to the UK (1911 and 1913).
In 1937 Emily Eastgate, who had lived in Australia and become a Bahá’í there, joined John to live in Birmingham. Their first public Bahá’í meeting organised together was held in Paradise Street. During the later war years occasional meetings were also held in Emily’s home in Sutton Coldfield.
Emily Eastgate left the following touching passages in her diary about John:
‘John Marshall possessed an unusually alert mind and was always searching for knowledge and the truth. He was the only resident Bahá’í in Birmingham for many years … but steadfastly kept the spirit of the Bahá’í teachings.’
‘His greatest concern and interest was the furtherance of the teachings and principles of the message of Bahá’u’lláh and he truly taught by his own life his recognition of the rights of all peoples and that we are today entering upon a new era of world citizenship.’
Jonh’s remains were interred in the cemetery at Yardly.
From our archives we also have this photo of the very first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Birmingham: