The Mitchells

My name is Sam and this is my family’s migration story. My family came to New Zealand in 1841 from England for a better life.

In 1841 the Mitchells, John and Mary and their children Elizabeth, William, John, James, Joseph and Henry came to New Zealand. They travelled from Halifax, England where John had previously worked as a brickmaker. Before coming to New Zealand four of their children, Nancy, Sarah, Thomas and Benjamin, had died of what we now believe to be scarlet fever. Escaping a polluted country and the trials of their past they set sail for New Zealand from the port of Gravesend on June 19th, 1841 on the ship The Gertrude where they were assisted immigrants.

After arriving 4 ½ months later on 31 October, the Mitchells set up a house in Willis Street, Wellington where they started work as brickmakers. Sadly one year after their arrival their son John died. In 1846-1850 William joined the Wellington Militia to defend the settlement of Wellington. In 1854 the Mitchell Brothers (William, James, Joseph & Henry) joined with Eli Allen (their brother in-law) and bought the land in Pollhill Gully (Aro Valley area) that Mitchelltown is now occupying, where they logged timber.

The brothers started to make a living cutting firewood from the trees that covered their section of land. As they cleared the land of wood they started to raise sheep. In the 1870’s Henry Mitchell, now in his 40’s, started to build houses on his land for unskilled workers. He did the same on his land at the corner of Aro and Epuni Streets. After this the area was renamed Mitchelltown after the work of the Mitchell Brothers.

Eventually the Mitchell Brothers (now a company) broke up after also dabbling in investments in gold mining. After they broke up William set up a hotel on the corner of Taranaki and Abel Smith Streets called the Royal Tiger (named after the ‘65th Regiment of Foot the First Battalion the York and Lancaster Regiment’ also known as the ‘Royal Tigers’. After this venture the activity of the Mitchell Brothers settled down but they stayed in Wellington for the rest of their lives. Most of their direct descendants still live in Wellington today.

Read more about Mitchelltown

Photo Credits:
Part of:Taylor, J N fl 1900s :Photographs of Wellington, Reference Number PAColl-5310