The name Marshall literally means ‘horse-servant’ in which sense it is still used in France (marechal – meaning a farrier).  The word in Old High German ‘maraschalh’ borrowed through the low Latin ‘mariscalcus’ into Old French and introduced to Britain during the Norman Conquest.  The position, like that of Constable and Steward, became one of great dignity, but there is no doubt that most of the Marshalls in Scotland derive their name from the humbler occupation.  The earliest record of the name is Maledoni Marescal in 1136, who witnessed a gift of lands of Partick to the church in Glasgow.  

Philip Mariscallus, married the heiress of Keith-Humble c.1202, and thus became ancestor of the Keiths, Earls of Marischal.  The name Marischal is of course familiar in Aberdeen as the street where the University resides.  In relation to the Sutherland connection, Marjory, one of the two Daughters of Sir Reginald Cheyne of c.1296, became the wife of John de Keith; second some of Edward, the Marischal of Scotland.  Marjory inherited and was granted charter by King David II to the lands of Strathbock, and half of Caithness.

The Chens (Cheynes) and Federeths were connected with each other by marriage with the Morays or Sutherlands of Duffus.  The lands inherited by the daughters of Ranald Cheyne were carried by them to the Sutherlands and Keiths, from whom they passed to the Oliphants and ultimately became the property of the Sinclairs, Earls of Caithness.  Not all Marshalls can claim Scottish origin as many of the name descended from the Norman invasion but stayed in England.  Precisely when this name was assigned to this tartan remains a mystery, but the probably explanation is due to the Keith/Marshall link.