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The Scottish Nation

MITCHELL, a surname from the Anglo-Saxon Michel, signifying great; or it may be from the German Mit schuler, a disciple, literally “with a school.” The Danish Mod-schiold, means courage-shield. The crest of the Mitchells is a hand holding a pen; motto, Favente deo supero.

MITCHELL, SIR DAVID, an eminent naval commander, in the reign of William III., was descended from a respectable family in Scotland, where he was born about the middle of the seventeenth century. He early entered the navy, and after the intermediate steps he was promoted to the command of the Elizabeth, of 70 guns. At the battle of Beachy-head, he behaved with great gallantry; and in 1693 he was appointed rear-admiral of the blue. In 1694 he was knighted, and about the same time attained the rank of rear-admiral of the red. In 1698, when Peter the Great was invited by King William to visit London, Admiral Mitchell was commissioned to bring him over to England, and after a stay of three months he conveyed him back to the Continent. He was subsequently sent to Holland, on a diplomatic commission. He died soon after his return to England, June 1, 1710.

MITCHELL, SIR ANDREW, an able diplomatist, was the only son of the Rev. William Mitchell, originally of Aberdeen, and latterly one of the ministers of the High church of Edinburgh. The date of his birth is not specified, but he is said to have been married in 1715, when very young, to a lady, who died four years after in childbirth, and whose loss he felt so deeply as to be obliged to discontinue the study of the law, for which his father had designed him, and divert his grief by traveling. In 1741 he was appointed secretary to the marquis of Tweeddale, minister for the affairs of Scotland, and in 1747 was elected M.P. for the Banff district of burghs. On the death of Thomson the poet in 1748, he and Lord Lyttleton were named his executors.

In 1751 he was nominated his majesty’s representative at Brussels, where he resided for two years. Soon after his return to London in 1753 he was created a knight of the Bath, and appointed ambassador extraordinary to the court of Prussia, where, by his abilities and address, he succeeded in detaching his Prussian majesty from the French interest. At Berlin he was much celebrated for the liveliness of his conversation and the readiness of his repartees, and he became so much a favourite with the Great Frederick that he usually accompanied him in his campaigns. In consequence of bad health he returned to England in 1765, and spent some time at Tunbridge Wells. In the following year he resumed the duties of his office at Berlin, where he died, January 28, 1771. The court of Prussia honoured his funeral with their presence, and the king himself, from a balcony, is said to have beheld the procession with tears.

MITCHELL, JOSEPH, a dramatist and third-rate poet, was the son of a stone-cutter, and was born about 1684. He received a university education, and is described as “one of a club of small wits who, about 1719, published at Edinburgh, a very poor miscellany, to which Dr. Young, the well-known author of the ‘Night Thoughts,’ prefixed a Copy of Verses.” He afterwards repaired to London, where he was fortunate enough to obtain the patronage of the earl of Stair and Sir Robert Walpole; on the latter of whom he was for a great part of his life almost entirely dependent, and was styled “Sir Robert Walpole’s Poet.” His dissipation and extravagance, however, kept him constantly in a state of distress; and having on one occasion applied to Aaron Hill for some pecuniary assistance, that gentleman made him a present of his tragedy of ‘The Fatal Extravagance,’ which was acted and published in Mitchell’s name, and produced him a considerable sum. He was candid enough, however, to inform the public who was the real author of the piece, and ever after gratefully acknowledged his obligations to Mr. Hill. A collection of Mitchell’s Miscellaneous Poems, in two volumes 8vo, was published in 1729; and in 1731 he brought out ‘The Highland Fair, a Ballad Opera,’ which was his own composition. He died 6th February 1738.

He was the author of several popular Scottish songs, inserted in Johnson’s Musical Museum, particularly ‘Leave Kindred and Friends, sweet Betty,’ adapted to the tune of ‘Blink over the Burn, sweet Betty,’ and ‘By Pinkie House oft let me walk,’ also ‘As Sylvia in a Forest lay.’ To the air of Pinkie House he also wrote another song, beginning ‘As lovesick Croydon beside a murmuring rivulet lay,’ which is printed in Watt’s Musical Miscellany, vol. v. London, 1731. The ballad called the ‘Duke of Argyle’s Levee,’ usually ascribed to Lord Binning, was written by Mitchell.

MITCHELL, SIR ANDREW, a gallant admiral, was born in Scotland about 1757, and received his education at Edinburgh. In 1776 he accompanied Admiral Sir Edward Vernon to India as a midshipman, and during his services in the East, he was rapidly advanced to the rank of post-captain. At the conclusion of the war, he returned to England with a convoy, and on the breaking out of hostilities with the French republic, he was appointed to the command, first of the Asia, 64, and then of the Impregnable, 90. In 1795 he became a rear-admiral; and in 1799, on being promoted to the rank of vice-admiral of the White, he hoisted his flag on board the Zealand, 64, from which ship he removed to the Isis, 50, in which he joined Lord Duncan off the coast of Holland. At the end of August he entered the Texel, where the Dutch fleet surrendered to him without firing a shot. For this service he was made a knight of the Bath. In 1802 he was appointed commander-in-chief on the coast of America. He died at Bermuda, February 26, 1806.

MITCHELL, SIR THOMAS LIVINGSTONE, D.C.L., a distinguished Australian explorer, was born in 1792. He was the eldest son of John Mitchell, Esq., of Grangemouth, descended from the Mitchells of Graigend, one of the oldest families in Stirlingshire, which took the additional name of Livingstone. Entering the army as lieutenant of the 95th Rifles, now the Rifle Brigade, at an early age, he passed through the most active period of the Peninsular War. After 1815 he was sent into Spain and Portugal to survey the different fields of battle in those countries. This service he successfully accomplished, and several of his models may be seen in the United Service Institution, London. About 1827 he was, by George IV., appointed surveyor-general of New South Wales. To this arduous service he devoted the remaining twenty-eight years of his life. He cut all the passes which lead through the mountains to the interior of the Australian continent; laid out upwards of 200 towns and villages; and conducted four expeditions of discovery, during one of which he conquered from the aborigines, and surveyed, at the same time, Australia Felix, afterwards celebrated for its gold fields. He has been deservedly called “the Cook of the Australian continent.” In 1839 he was knighted by Queen Victoria, on presenting her Majesty with a map of his surveys and discoveries.

In 1838 he published, in 2 vols. 8vo, his admirable work, entitled ‘Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia,’ and in 1848 he brought out a second work on his Australian discoveries, being ‘A Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia, in search of a route from Sydney to the Gulf of Carpentaria.’ Sir Thomas was the author of several other works. His ‘Manual’ and ‘Platoon Exercises’ long formed part of the requisite equipment of young officers joining the army, as his plans of battles, brawn at the royal military college, have been for many years the only studies for military students of the senior department at Sandhurst. He prepared and published several maps of Australia, a beautiful Trigonometrical survey of Port Jackson on a large scale, and a translation of the ‘Lusiad of Camoens.’ He also invented the boomerang propeller, which was patented in Great Britain and America, and was adopted in many vessels as superior to every other. In 1853 he published a pamphlet entitled ‘The Origin, History, and Description of the Boomerang Propeller.’

Sir Thomas represented Melbourne for some years in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, and died at Sydney on Oct. 5, 1855. He was doctor of civil law of the university of Oxford, and a fellow of the Royal Geographical and Geological Societies, and other learned bodies. He was much beloved and respected in the colony of New South Wales, and was honoured with a public funeral. He married in 1818, Mary, eldest daughter of General Richard Blunt, colonel of the 66th regiment, by whom he had a numerous issue. His younger brothers are: J. M. Mitchell, of Mayville, merchant and Belgian consul in Leith, knight of the order of Leopold of Belgium, and Houston Mitchell of Polmood and Meadowbank.

On 16th April 1857 Sir Thomas’ second daughter, Emily, married at Sydney the Right Hon. George Edward Thicknesse Touchet, 20th Lord Audley, descended from a family who were barons by tenure before the reign of Henry III., but the existing peerage, created in 1313, dates from the earliest writ of summons. Camilla Victoria, Sir Thomas’ third daughter, was married the same day to J. F. Mann, Esq., son of General Mann. Lady Audley died April 1, 1860.

Sir Thomas was chief of the family of Mitchell of Craigend, which, as above mentioned, assumed the name of Livingstone, on a marriage with the heiress of a brother of Lord Viscount Kilsyth, attainted in 1716. He was chiefly remarkable for energy and perseverance in whatever he undertook, and determination to do his duty in all circumstances. When sent to the Peninsula, after the battle of Waterloo, in 1815, to survey the different fields of battle in which our troops had been engaged, although he was there under the direct auspices of the Duke of Wellington, and although he had been introduced by Mr. Canning, then British ambassador at Lisbon, to the immediate protection of General Ballasteros, the Spanish prime minister, his surveys excited a good deal of jealousy amongst the Spaniards, and he was exposed to so much danger that he had frequently to work with the theodolite in one hand and the rifle in the other. On his return to Britain he was employed, under Sir Henry Torrens, in drawing plans for the manoeuvres of the army, according to a design of his own invention, by which their accuracy could be tested on mathematical principles, and under which test many old errors of movement in echelon and wheeling were exploded, and new methods of forming squares were introduced from his drawings.

The publication of his work, “Plans of the Fields of Battle in the Peninsula,” which, connected as they were with the days of his early service in the army, naturally had stronger claims on him, was delayed to allow him to publish his “Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia,” undertaken, as these expeditions were, by order of government. The most attractive of his duties, as he himself tells us in his preface to his “Tropical Australia,” ever was to explore the interior of that country. Australia was then very little known to the world, and Sir Thomas Mitchell’s works on the subject have been of vast use to all subsequent explorers.

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