One of our ancestors among the Puritans who came to America was Matthew Mitchell. He was somewhat typical of many. Although partly of Scotch ancestry, he was a citizen of England, a man of property, deeply religious, and a Dissenter trying to reform the Church of England.
The name, Mitchel, or Mitchell, is from the Saxon, Muchel, meaning big. The Mitchels belong to an ancient Scottish clan, and since my Mother was a Mitchel, we can claim a "jigger of Scotch" in the blood stream, but I'm not sure it is blood.
About the time Columbus discovered America, a hotfoot Mitchell deserted the bonnie braes, and wandered south into England, getting as far as Yorkshire. He married the belle of Halifax, thus starting a fortune. In three generations the Mitchels accumulated substantial land property; acquired the right to bear arms; and established a reputation of high 'attainment. Somberly, a London genealogist, states: "The Mitchells were a family of good standing, and their arms, 'Sable, a chevron between three escallops argent' are painted on the roof of the Chancel of Halifax Church."
Matthew Mitchell was born in 1590. At 40 years of age he was a successful family man, but due to his religious activities he was harassed so much that he finally decided to go to America. Early in 1635, with his wife, two sons, and three daughters, he left Halifax, Yorkshire, and journeyed to Bristol. He joined Reverend Richard Mather's group on the ship "James" sailing for Boston. He took livestock along, and a large supply of other goods needed in the New World. The long arduous sea journey finally ended at Boston, August 7, 1635. Their last days at sea were spent praying fervently during a violent storm that tore away the masts, but a kind Providence brought them safely into port.
All was not milk and honey for Matthew Mitchell in his new Canaan. At Concord he lost property by fire, after which he moved to the Connecticut valley and built a home on a large tract of land. Here he was attacked by Indians, who burned his home, ran off his cattle, killed some of his employees; captured his brother-in-law, Samuel Butterfield, and roasted him alive after torture. At Weathersfield he was a member of the Court, and Recorder, or Town Clerk. He moved again, this time to Stamford, where he became a highly respected leader. He died at age 55. A contemporary gave him quite a eulogy, as follows.
"Matthew Mitchell had excellent social position, education, enterprise, patience, resolution, clear judgment, and positive convictions of duty. His staunch uprightness commanded respect, and his unswerving integrity invited confidence. He was sorely tried by fire, Indian attacks, and human animosities, and under all exhibited Christian humility and patience."Matthew's daughters married well, and his sons, David and Jonathan, achieved success in America. David became a prosperous business man in Stratford, and his brother, The Very Reverend Jonathan Mitchell, the Fourth Minister of Cambridge.