Mitchell Surname Genealogy

The root of Mitchell is the Christian name Michael, of Hebrew origin
(meaning “with the likeness of God”). Medieval clerks would inscribe
Michael in its learned Latinate form.  But its early pronunciation
appears to have been Michel, in the French style.  The “t” was
introduced into the spelling to signify that “ch” was a hard sound
“tch,” rather than the soft “sh” French pronunciation.  This hard
“tch” was particularly prevalent in Scotland.

Mitchell Resources on

Mitchell Ancestry

was said that a Mitchell family from Mitcham in Surrey brought the
Mitchell name to Scotland. The
Mitchell name took root there and evolved in many parts of the
country.  It appeared in 1354 on the Treaty of Berwick.  A
Mitchell was rewarded in 1489 for holding Dumbarton castle.  And
Mitchells became landowners in Ayrshire and Stirlingshire.

largest numbers of Mitchells were later to be found in the northeast of
Scotland, in
Angus and Aberdeenshire where the diminutive Mitchie name was also to

Some of these Mitchells left the
area in the 19th century to join the British army or to
emigrate.   But many stayed.  One third of the Scottish
Mitchells were to be found in this part of Scotland at the end of the
19th century.  A Mitchell family in Letham, Angus has been
producing quality Scottish-raised chickens since 1904.

England.  While the
Mitchell name may have originated in Surrey, there was a
larger concentration in the north of England, particularly in

Yorkshire  Early
sightings of the name, in Elizabethan times, were to be found in
and around Halifax in the West Ridings.  Nonconformist Mitchells
from this area were
among the early emigrants to America.  There was the rather
gruesome story of Anthony Mitchell being beheaded
on the Halifax gibbet
in 1650 for the crime of horse theft.  In the 1840’s, William
Mitchell started Mitchell’s brewery in Pontefract.

SW England  There
were also Mitchells in the southwest of England from early
times.  The Devon Rawkerayne family dates from about 1410.
Later Mitchell families were to be found at Colyton, Gittisham, and
Plymstock.  Philip Mitchell was a local 19th century landscape
painter of the area.

Ireland.  In Ireland, the
surname Mitchell derived in its anglicized form from the Gaelic Ui’Mhaoilmhichil, meaning followers
of St. Michael the Archangel:

Other Mitchells in Ireland were of Scots

America.  Experience Mitchell
was one of the early New England settlers, arriving on the Anne in 1623 and later settling in

Dr. Abraham
, of Scots-Irish extraction, was the forebear of
the Mitchell family of Cecil County, Maryland.  Their home,
originally built in 1764, is being restored to its original condition
by the Elk Creeks Preservation Society.

The name of Elisha Mitchell, an early university professor, has been
remembered with some affection in North Carolina.  Dr. Mitchell
was the first scientist to argue that the peak in the Black Mountains
was the highest point in the United States east of the
Mississippi.  In 1857 he fell to his death on a waterfall on the
side of this mountain.  The mountain was subsequently named Mount
Mitchell in his honor.

Heading West.
Mitchell pioneers who headed inland included James Mitchell to Cole
County, Tennessee in the 1830’s and William Mitchell to Dade County,
Missouri in the 1840’s.   Asa and Eli Mitchell were early
settlers and soldiers during the Texas Revolution.

Alexander Mitchell from Aberdeen in Scotland immigrated to America in
1839.  He pursued a career of banking in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and
ended up as one of the wealthiest men in the state.
Mitchell Park in Milwaukee is named after him.  His son John
Mitchell became the US senator for Wisconsin and his grandson General
Billy Mitchell is considered the father of the US Air Force.

San Francisco.
A Mitchell family moved to
San Francisco from New York in 1865 and started a small dairy farm in
the hills
above what is now Noe Valley. Edward Mitchell ran the farm until his
death in the late 1890’s, leaving his wife with eight young children to
on her own.  She leased out the land to another farmer and in 1913
had the
apartment building that now houses Mitchell’s Ice Cream built on the
corner of
29th Street and San Jose Avenue.  It was
in 1952 that two Mitchell brothers Jack and Larry turned this space
into their famed
ice cream parlor.

John Mitchell had
arrived in San Francisco from Illinois also around 1865.
His son Edward was one of the earliest and
one of the most prolific postcard publishers in the United States
during the golden
age of postcards at the turn of the century.

Canada.  Most Mitchell
immigrants were of Scots or Scots-Irish origin.  Allen Mitchell,
for instance, came from county Armagh on the Miltiades in 1846 and settled in
Maryborough township, Ontario.  William and Catherine Mitchell
from county Cavan farmed in Quebec near Ottawa.  Their sons later
homesteaded in Saskatchewan.  Another Mitchell family from Dublin
ended up in Victoria, British Columbia.  And Dorothea
, of Anglo-Indian roots, achieved some local fame in
the early 20th century as a lady lumberjack.

Mitchells in Saskatchewan
It was a Mendel not a Mitchell family that started a meat packing
business in Saskatoon in 1940.  However, this business was
rebranded Mitchell’s Gourmet Foods
in 1970 when Fred Mendel’s daughter, Johanna Mitchell, became

What happened next might have come from
Shekespeare’s King Lear.
Her son Fred battled and won control from an alliance involving his
mother, a brother and sister.  Complicating the matter was Fred’s
marriage to a former local beauty queen.  Never accepted by
members of the Mitchell family, LuAnn Mitchell nevertheless managed to
take over the company following her husband’s death.

Sir Thomas
from Craigend in Stirlingshire was the surveyor
who made four
expeditions into the unknown interior of
Australia in its early years.   David Mitchell arrived from
Forfar in 1852 and made his name in the construction of many of the
public buildings in Melbourne.  His daughter Helen Mitchell is
better known as the Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba.

New Zealand.  Among the
Mitchells who came to New Zealand were:

  • John Mitchell, who came with the British army in 1845 and ended
    settling there
  • Janet, John, and Elizabeth Mitchell who came from Dumfries on the
    Scottish borders in the 1860’s
  • and Henry Mitchell from Yorkshire who founded Mitchelltown, a
    suburb of Wellington.  He had built small
    cottages there for workers in the 1870’s.

Select Mitchell Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Mitchell Names

Sir Thomas Mitchell was
a Scots surveyor and explorer in Australia in its early years, after
whom a number of places in Australia are named.
John Mitchel, the son of a
Scots Presbyterian minister in Ireland, became a strident activist for
Irish nationalism in the 1850’s and 1860’s.
Helen Mitchell
is better known as the Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba.
General Billy Mitchell is
considered the father of the US Air Force.
Joni Mitchell is the
Canadian-born folk singer.
George Mitchell is considered
the father of the US fracking industry.  He was the grandson of
Greek immigrants who had adopted the Mitchell name.

Select Mitchells Today

  • 121,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 134,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 79,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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