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Archiver > GENMSC > 1996-02 > 0823533958

From: Tom Lincoln <>
Subject: William MITCHELL Knighted?-How do I find out the details?
Date: Mon, 5 Feb 1996 15:25:58 GMT

In article <>,
John V Addis-Smith <> wrote:
>Barney Tyrwhitt-Drake <> wrote:
>>In article <4f01ur$>,
>>>I have followed one line and there is reported that he was a "Sir".
>>>He, Sir William Carr, born May 16, 1542 in London, England to Thomas
>>>Carr & ?(born about 1566).
>>>Is there any books or records that could answer the questions of when &
>>>other details (like why) of his being Knighted?
>>Try to find a library copy or get an inter-library loan of 'The Knights
>>of England' by WA Shaw, published in London in 1906. It lists knights
>>created from 1257 onwards.
>>Barney Tyrwhitt-Drake
>I have checked in my copy of Shaw's Knights - there are only two
>possible William Carrs:
>John Addis-Smith - Thurleigh, Bedford, England MK44 2EE

There are always those of us who attempt to track down family lore..
I have tried a lot of books, but I don't know Shaw's Knights..

Does any of the following strike a bell?

The name of Mitchell is of considerable antiquity in central
Scotland, where several families held the rank of lesser barons.
However, this particular family is said to have originated with
a (Sir?) William Mitchell, several generations before Rev.
Arthur Mitchell (b. ~1694 - 2 Apr 1774) of Kinnellar outside
Aberdeen. William was stated to have been a Commodore in the
British naval service in the period 1688-1697 under William III,
and have been knighted for distinguished gallantry. His coat of
arms was a hand holding a pen, with the motto "Favento deo
supero". This motto and coat of arms are associated with the
Mitchells of Craigend (and, as Burke's General armory of England
and Scotland puts it, "of that ilk"). Craigend is a small town
just south of Perth, and these were apparently not notable or
prominent gentry.

Under William III, the title Commodore was a naval designation
for the senior Captain of a small squadron that had been
borrowed from the Dutch -- who used it to avoid creating more
Admirals in wartime. It appears often, but did not become an
official title in the British navy until after the Battle of
Trafalgar, when it first appeared in the King's Regulations for
1806. A diligent search year by year of the sequential naval
appointments in the Biographia Navalis bn @ extending through
the reign of William III reveals a Benjamin, a Thomas, and an
Andrew Mitchell. The Naval Registry of Captains shows a Henry
and a John. The Scots Navy (a small and poorly documented
service of the time, which also had Commodores) mentions a James
as midshipman... There is no mention of a William Mitchell.
However, there were various other irregular fleets, particularly
in the West Indies, where squadron commanders were also commonly
called Commodores. Prominent in the navy at the time was Admiral
Sir David Mitchell (abt 1642 - 1 Jun 1710). He was indeed
knighted by William III -- apparently informally about May 1694
before he joined Russel's grand fleet -- but was officially
dubbed a Knights Bachelor at Kensington on 6 Dec 1698. He
descended from "a family of good repute, more distinguished for
integrity than for riches", and was apprenticed at 16 to the
master of a trading vessel from Lieth (i.e., the port of
Edinburgh). In the second Dutch War (1665-1667), while mate of a
ship in the Baltic trade, he was pressed into English service
and rose to be Admiral of William III's Blue Fleet (8 Feb 1693).
He obtained numerous royal honors and appointments. Because of
his naval knowledge, he became a close professional friend of
Czar Peter the Great. David's coat of arms are stated by De Neve
to be appropriated for his tomb without justification from the
Mitchells of Tillygrieg (qv) ('he bears arms, but hath no
right', citing his humble background).

No William Mitchell is noted to have been knighted in the 17th
or early 18th century in the published lists, although the
absence of such a record does not absolutely refute the claim.
There is no truly complete list, and it is admitted that a
number of individuals were informally dubbed, particularly in
wartime, for which there may be no record. (Note that David was
apparently knighted in 1694, and appears on many lists as such,
but not formally dubbed until 1698.) By this era Knights
Bachelor (the first rung of knighthood and distinct from the
Knights of Orders -- such as the Garter, Bath, Thistle, etc.)
were modest honorific titles, sometimes granted by the Monarch
on the spur of the moment. The rank had never been hereditary.
Holders who were Commoners remained Commoners. In addition to
the Monarch, the Governor of Ireland, in the Monarch's absence
from that Country, could (and also did) create Knights. Among
others, service officers above the rank of Captain in the army
and Lieutenant in the navy were Esquires, the most modest title
of all.

It seems that titles were sometimes appropriated after the
manner of a Kentucky Colonel -- with the creeping credits of
age, local lore and demeanor -- most easily acquired in lands of
legend far from the centers of power and true formality. It is
most likely that David's aura as a prominent and very successful
military Mitchell spilled over in a time when histories were
often inexact. William was probably someone who quite
independently rose to local stature among the gentry at the time
of William III. The motto and arms from Craigend suggest an
emphasis on education rather than war, which would fit with
subsequent developments. The sea is close, and Gavin's son John
(qv.) was a sea captain at a later date . Thus a plausible
explanation would be that William (or one of the other
aforementioned Mitchells), was a civilian ship's captain in the
1680s, was in charge of a vessel or group of vessels involved in
transport or supply to the armies of William III -- probably in
Ireland -- and was recognized in some way for that, so that the
family obtained important considerations as a consequence.

Look like the correct interpretation?


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