"Matthew Mitchell of Halifax, England"

Matthew Mitchell of Halifax, England

Matthew Mitchell, came into New-England in 1635, from Halifax, England. On his arrival be located himself in Charleston, Massachusetts where he spent his first winter. The following entry is recorded in Cotton Mather's "Magnalia Christi Americana" written in 1702.

"Removing to the Town of Concord, his greater Matters continually became smaller there, his Beginnings were there consumed by Fire, and some other Losses befel him in the Latter End of that Winter. The next Summer he removed unto Say-brook, and the next Spring unto Weathersfield upon Connecticut River, by which he lost yet more of his Possessions, and plunged himself into other Troubles. Towards the Close of that year he had a Son-in-law Slain by the Pequot Indians; and the Rest of the Winter they lived in much fear of their Lives from those Barbarians, and many of his Cattel were destroyed, and his Estate unto the Value of some Hundreds of Pounds was damnified. A Shallop, which he sent unto the River's Mouth was taken, and burned by the Pequots, and Three Men in the Vessel slain, in all of whom he was nearly concerned: So that indeed the Pequot Scourge fell more on this Family, than on any other in the Land. Afterward there arose unhappy Differences in the place where he lived, wherein he was an Antagonist against some of the Principal Persons in the place, and hereby he that had hitherto Lived in precious Esteen with Good Men, wherever he came, (as a Record I have seen, testifies concerning him,) now suffered much in his Esteen among many such Men, as 'tis usual in such Contentions, and he met with many other Injuries: For which causes, he transferred himself, with his Interests, unto Stamford in the Colony of New-Haven. Here his House Barn and Goods were again consumed by Fire; and much Internal Distress of Mind accompanied these Humbling Dispensations. At last, that Most Horrible of Diseases, the Stone, arrested him, and he underwent unspeakable Dolours from it, until the year 1645, when he went unto his Rest about the Fifty Fifth Year of his age."

A less colourful description comes from the Bullard family genealogy:

MATTHEW MITCHELL, immigrant ancestor of this family, was born 1590, in South Outram parish, Halifax, Yorkshire, England, and married, April 16, 1616, Susan Butterfield of Ovenden, in the same parish. They sailed from Bristol, May 23, 1635, in the ship "James," with the company of dissenters of whom Rev. Richard Denton was the head. They landed at Boston, August 17, and settled first at Charlestown, but in the spring of 1636, Matthew Mitchell removed to Concord, where during his brief stay he lost much property by fire. He soon removed to Springfield, Massachusetts, where with Pynchon and others he signed the Pynchon compact, 1636. From thence he went to Saybrook and again his cattle and goods, to the value of several hundred pounds were destroyed by Indians, who killed several of his employees and cruelly murdered his brother-in-law, Samuel Butterfield. The entire Saybrook colony were kept in continued peril and alarm and early in the spring of 1637, he again removed to Wethersfield, Connecticut, bringing with him a large number of cattle although some were killed by Indian attacks while on the way up the river. Matthew Mitchell was a valuable addition to the settlement at Wethersfield, being a man of large means for those times, despite his previous losses and possessing also sound judgment and executive ability which his fellow citizens soon recognized. He was chosen a member of the General court in 1637, and was of this Court when it declared war upon the Pequots, being active in the deliberations which determined the manner upon which the very existence of the colony depended. He became a very large landowner in Wethersfield, and in April, 1640, was chosen recorder for Wethersfield, but the choice was rejected by the Court, at the instigation of the ruling elder of the Wethersfield church, Clement Chaplin, whose animosity toward Mitchell arose during church dissensions and was the cause of Mr. Mitchell's removal to Stamford when the Rev. Mr. Denton and the major part of his congregation who had generously surrendered to the minority, withdrew. Mr. Chaplin's influence soon abated and when he was without prestige with the General court, he sold out at Wethersfield and returned to England.

Mr. Mitchell's character secured the respect of those with whom he lived in Wethersfield and Stamford, and his education and enterprise placed him in prominence. "His staunch uprightness commanded respect and his unswerving integrity invited confidence in times when trials demonstrated character." He died in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1645, aged 55 years. The children of Matthew and Susan (Butterfield) Mitchell, baptized in England, were:

    I--Abigail, Apr. 26, 1618; probably died young.
    II--David, Nov. 14, 1619; m. Sarah Wheeler.
    III--SARAH, Oct. 14, 1621. (See following.)
    IV--Martha, Oct., 1623; d. Nov., 1623.
    V--Jonathan, Dec. 19, 1624. A distinguished divine; m. Margaret, widow of Rev. Thomas Shepard.
    VI--Susan, Oct. 14, 1627.
    VII--Matthew, July 5, 1629; d. Oct., 1629.
    VIII--Hannah, June 26, 1635.

This informative story comes to us from Tim Mitchell of Wellington, New Zealand. Tim says he is an 11th generation descendant of Matthew Mitchell through his grandmother's (Howland) ancestry. Contact Tim at tim@mitchconsult.co.nz.

Published and © Copyrighted, May 31, 2002
by Betty Naff Mitchell - Editor & Web Mistress