Thursday, 4 June 2015

Edward Mitchell - Gold Pen Maker, Silversmith and Jeweller - Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

Updated 23 February 2018 with new articles from Trove - his wife selling up after the funeral so she can return to England.

Updated 9 July 2016 with new articles from Trove re the funeral.  Previously updated 19 June 2015

Click for Part 1 - Birmingham & London, England


By 1862 there was some happier news when Edward's daughter, Louisa Mitchell, married George Brownley on 14 July in Victoria, Australia. (Registration number 2603).

Their marriage was announced in The Star newspaper (Ballarat, Victoria) on Thursday, 24 July 1862


At the Wesleyan Chapel, Lydiard street, by special
license, Mr George Brownley, Shakepere Hotel, Bal-
larat, to Louisa, youngest daughter of Mr Mitchell,
oculist, homoepathist, &c., of Ballarat.

A daughter, Hannah Elizabeth Brownley, soon followed in 1863. Possibly Edward and Hannah's first grandchild.

It looks like Edward was having a hard time again according to the report in The Star (Ballarat, Victoria) on Monday, 28 December 1863

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a man named John Robinson alias William Wright, for having uttered a valueless cheque to Edward M.Mitchell of this town.

And little over a week later more trouble was reported in the same newspaper (The Star - Ballarat, Victoria) on Wednesday, 6 January1864

ALLEGED THEFT.-Edward Boylow was charged
with having stolen a brooch, the property of Edward
Mitchell. The prosecutor deposed that he knew the
prisoner, who was at his house on Saturday, on
which occasion he (the prosecutor) lost two brooches
from his residence in Lyons street. Witness missed
the brooches after the departure of the accused. The
brooches produced were those that were stolen from
witness. He considered them worth £7. Senior
Constable Dann deposed that he arrested the priso-
ner on Saturday on the charge of personating a de-
tective. Witness found the brooches now produced
in his possession, he made no statement as to where
he got them. Detective Officer Hannon deposed to the
arrest of the prisoner that morning on the charge now
advanced against him. He said that he had taken
them, and that he had been drinking. The prisoner
elected for summary conviction, had nothing to say,
and appeared to regret his position. The Bench
said that it would look on the offence as one arising
from intemperance, and would only sentence him to
three weeks' imprisonment.

Edward was back in court yet again but this time as a witness to a very sad case. The Ballarat Star (Victoria) reported the following on Monday,1 January 1866

On Saturday, 30th December, at the Golden
Fleece hotel, Ballarat, the district coroner held an
inquest upon the body, aged about three weeks, of
William (Hoolahan) Smith. The jury returned the
following verdict-" His death took place on 21st
December, in the house of Mrs Joner, of Princess
street, Ballarat, and it arose from natural causes,
being caused by exhaustion, brought on by diarrhoea
and dysentery. The mother was Catherine Hoolahan,
unmarried. Bridget Jones deposed that she kept
the child for about a fortnight, while its mother was
in a situation. It was then given to a Mrs M'llhoon,
who kept it six or seven days and then brought it
back on Wednesday, when it was found to be very
ill, never having suckled its mother. Some six or
seven days before the child died it was taken to Mr
Mitchell. Witness reported the death of the child to
the police as she had no means of burying it and
Mr Morris, the undertaker, took the child away in a
coffin about one o'clock on Sunday, 24th December.
Witness got no medicine for the child as it was so
delicate. She went to Mr Mitchell after deceased's
death and got from him a certificate with which wit-
ness thought she could bury the child. The father
of the child was stated by the mother to be a George
Smith, and that he lived at Clunes. Montague
Edward Mitchell of Ballarat "not a legally qualified
medical practitioner, but I practice the calling of an
oculist, and my friends take my advice when I give
it to them," deposed that the child was brought to
him, and on hearing tho symptoms said the child
was dying and refused to give advice or medicine.
Witness recommended Mrs Jones to go to the hos-
pital, witness also refused to give a certificate until
he saw the child. After he saw the child, he gave
Mrs Jones the following certificate "21st December,
1805. I certify that William Smith died this morn-
ing, two o'clock. Disease, dysentery; age, three
weeks. Mr E. Mitchell, homoeopathist." Mr Richard
Bunce made the post mortem examination and ten-
dered the medical evidence.

Before the year was out Edward was back in court again, thankfully again as a witness. The Ballarat Star (Victoria) reported the worrying case of a stolen child on Tuesday, 4 September 1866

CHILD STEALING.-Israel Martin was charged with
having, on the 1st instant, taken away from its
home a little girl named Lilly Trinder; Mr Lewis
appeared for the defence. The following evidence
was called:-William Trinder, a bootmaker, residing
at the rear of Humffray street, deposed that he had
seven children. The one now in court was two years
and eight months of age. She was at home about
midday on Saturday, and as he was shortly after-
wards informed that she was missing, he followed
the prisoner as far as the cemetery. but he then lost
all trace of him. He next gave information to the
police and in about two hours afterwards, when he
returned home, the child was there. The child was
not examined by any medical man, but there was
nothing the matter with it. Cross-examined-Be-
lieved the child was not hurt in any way. A woman
named Mary Ann Gillespie lived at some little dis-
tance from his house. Heard in the evening that
the child had been taken away in mistake for Gil-
lespie's child. Never saw the prisoner. To Mr
Ryall-The women about the place talked about the
child being taken away in mistake. It was said that
the child was to have been taken from Mary Ann
Gillespie. That woman told witness so herself the
father of her illigitimate child was spoken of as being
a man named Irwin. Montagu Edward Mitchell, a
medical man, deposed to being in Peel street and
seeing a man running away with a child in his
arms towards a cab. The blinds of the cab -were
down, and the child having been pitched in, the
cab was driven off quickly. Witness thought he
knew the child, and one of its elder sisters came
running to him and said her sister was taken away.
The child's father also came up and ran after the
cab. Knew the prisoner about Ballarat for several
years, but could not say that he was the man whom
he saw running away with the child. Laura
Trinder, a girl thirteen years of age, sister of the
child in question, deposed that the prisoner was not
the man she saw taking away the child. The man
was dressed in grey clothes; he was short and had
red hair and a red beard. She never saw the man
before. (The prisoner had black hair and a slight
beard of the same color). A girl named Bessy
Thomas brought back the child. Sergeant Larner
deposed to the prosecutor having informed him of
the child being missing, and to afterwards arresting
the prisoner at the Rising Sun hotel under a war-
rant; The prisoner then told him that the child
had been taken away in mistake for another child.
A Mr Irwin, who was present, asked witness into a
room in the hotel and gave him to understand that
he had employed the prisoner to take away a child
but he had made a mistake and taken the
wrong one. Mr Lewis-You know Mr Irwin had
an illegitimate child by a woman named Gillespie,
and he only wanted to take it away and keep it
himself. Witness believed that such was the case.
The prisoner did not know that he had taken the
wrong child at the time; neither did Irwin himself,
as though he had a child he did not know it. Mr
Lewis stated it was evident that it was all a mistake
as the wrong child had been taken, Mr Irwin, it
was well known, had red hair, and he must have
been the man whom the girl saw, and not the pri-
soner. Mr Clissold-But people .are not to have
their children taken away by any scoundrel who
chooses to do so on hire. Mr Ryall asked for a
postponement until Friday for the production of
further evidence. Mr Lewis thought the postpone-
ment altogether unnecessary since the case was
purely one of mistaken identity. Mr Clissold stated
he would grant the remand if it was pressed for.
The prisoner was then remanded until Friday, and
admitted to bail in two sureties of £50 each.

In the following month what should have been a very happy time turned out to be very sad. Edward's daughter, Louisa, gave birth to a little girl, Mary Louisa Brownley, in the October of 1866 but the baby died the same month.

Louisa herself did even last another year and she died in September 1867 in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia (Ballarat and Western Region - Victoria, Australia).

Edward, himself, died on Monday, 18 March 1872 also in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia (Ballarat and Western Region - Victoria, Australia). His death was registered by John Little, a friend, Storekeeper. The death certificate states that he was in Victoria for 20 years (which we know to be true) and that he was married at 29 years to Hannah Beckett. It appears to state two children Sarah – Dead and Louisa 23 years. I do not know who Sarah is and Louisa was about 23 when she died. Edward is listed as an Oculist, male, 58 years. He died of acute dysentery 2 weeks. His parents are shown as Robert & Elizabeth Mitchell, Goldsmith. I am so impressed at the level of detail that John Little provided.  He must have been a good friend to know such detail and Edward must have been proud of his origins to have spoken about them enough for his friend to record the details accurately. I do wish dearly that Elizabeth's maiden name had been mentioned though as that would have been a really great gift to us descendants.

The Ballarat Courier (Vic.) on Tuesday, 19 March 1872 placed the following notice:

We regret to state that Dr Mitchell, an old and
respected resident, of Ballarat, died at his resi-
dence in Peel street yesterday morning; the cause
of death was dysentery. Special prayers were at
his own request offered in his behalf at the
Lydiard Street Wesleyan Church on Sunday.    
The funeral will take place on Wednesday.

The Ballarat Star on Tuesday 19 March 1872 announced that:

Mr Mitchell, an old resident of Ballarat, died on
Monday morning. For some years he had attained
local celebrity as an oculist and aurist, and it is un-.
derstood was about,to patent a gold-saving machine.

The Ballarat Courier of  Tuesday 19 March 1872

FUNERAL NOTICE.— The Friends of the late
Mr EDWARD MITCHELL, Oculist, are
respectfully invited to follow his remains to the
place of interment, the Ballarat Old Cemetery.
The funeral procession to move from his late
resldence, Peel street north, on Wednesday, the
20th instant, at Two o'clock p.m.
F. ATKINS, Undertaker, Main road, next
-Yarrowee Hotel; and Bridge street, next Limerick
Castle Hotel

The Ballarat Star for Wednesday 20 March 1872

The funeral of the late Mr Mitchell, the oculist of
Peel street, will take place to-day. We are informed
that the deceased gentleman was the original patentee
of the well-known “ Mitchell’s pens,” and that the
machinery in connection with his lately patented, gold

mining apparatus is on its way out from England.

Edward was buried two days later (20 March 1872) in Ballarat General Cemeteries, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. And more mysteries were to follow. The Ballarat General Cemeteries grave Headstone inscription states:

DUNN our parents John 1.1.1903 68 yrs
Agnes 16.11.1905 78 yrs
children Agnes, William, Chellew, Agnes d in infancy

The details for the grave that someone very kindly looked up for me are as follows:
DUNN AGNES, 7, 13/07/1863, residence Mount Pleasant, Ballarat
DUNN AGNES, 9MTHS, 8/01/1869, CHILD, residence Ballarat
DUNN AGNES, 79, 17/11/1906, WIFE, residence Mount Pleasant
DUNN JOHN, 68, 3/01/1893, MINER, residence Mount Pleasant, Ballarat
DUNN WILLIAM CHILLEN, 5, 6/07/1863, residence Mount Pleasant, Ballarat
MITCHELL EDWARD, 67, 20/03/1872, OCULIST, residence Peel St, Ballarat

John and Agnes Dunn had buried two children (William aged 5 and Agnes aged 7) within days of each other in 1863, then a third child (Agnes 9 months) a few years later in 1869.

Burial of John Dunn daughter Agnes –

Why would this couple then allow the burial of a 58 year old man, Edward Mitchell, in their family plot? The kind person who did the look up felt that this would indicate a very close relationship, like Edward was a brother of Agnes. However, Agnes death details are as follows:


DUNN Agnes

Father Chellew Arth

Mother Agnes CARDEW

Age 78

Place: Ballt E

Year 1906

Reg. 11744

I have not been able to establish a family connection but it would seem that Edward made some really good, close friends in Australia.

The Age of Thursday 21 March 1872 repeated the earlier report:

The death of a man whose name is pretty
well known is reported by the Ballarat Star :
—"The funeral of the late Mr. Mitchell, the
oculist, of Peel-street, will take place to-day.
We are informod that the deceasod gentle
man was the original patentee of the well
known Mitchell's pens, and. that the ma-
chinery in connection with his lately patented
gold mining apparatus is on its way out from

The Ballarat Star of Thursday 21 March 1872

The funeral of the late Mr Edward Mitchell, Ocu-
list, took place yesterday afternoon, at two o’clock,
and was largely attended, many of the leading mem-
bers of the Wesleyan community, of which the de-
ceased gentleman had been for a few years past an ac-
tive and useful member, being present. The remains
were interred in the old cemetery, and the Rev.
Spencer Williams, assisted, by.the Rev. J. W. Crisp,
officiated at the grave. Mr Matthew Burnett was also
present with the family, and it was manifest by the
emotion discernible that the deceased was held in
affectionate esteem by the circle in which he moved.

On 30 April 2011, I must have found a notice of his funeral in a New Zealand paper on Papers Past.

AUSTRALIAN NOTES. Otago Witness , Issue 1063, 13 April 1872, Page 9

The death of a man whose name is pretty well known is reported by the Ballarat Star : —"The funeral of. the late- Mr Mitchell, the oculist, of Peel street,, will take place today. We are' informed that the deceased gentleman was the original patentee of the well known Mitchell's pens, and that the machinery in connection with his lately patented gold mining apparatus is on its way out from England."

I am not clear on what happened to Edward's wife Hannah nor their son, Thomas. Thomas is certainly back in Aston, England by the time of the 1871 census where he is shown as a visitor in the home of Thomas Beckett. 

Thomas may have returned in 1868. There is a reference to a T Mitchell aged 22 born in 1846 departing in March 1868 from Victoria on the Great Britain heading to Liverpool. When the Great Britain docked in Liverpool in May of 1868 it was apparently 'immediately boarded by a number of police detectives who made a close examination of the passengers' as they had received word that accomplices of the 'would-be assassin of the Duke of Edinburgh, were on board'.  It must have been quite something to have been on board the ship for c60 days only to not be able to disembark until the police had examined the 600 passengers who were reportedly on board.

This section is an update (23 February 2018) 

Page 3 of The Ballarat Courier of Saturday 17 Aug 1872 shows the following advertisement and hints at what happened to Edward's wife.

FOR Unreserved Sale by Auction on Tuesday next, 28th August, the HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, Homoeopathic Medicines, Electroplating Machine. Books &c of the late Dr Mitchell, Peel street. Further particulars in Monday's issue. 
H.I.WHITE. Auctioneer 

Again on Page 3 of The Ballarat Courier this time on Monday, 19 Aug 1872 another advertisement was placed:

At Twelve o'clock,
On the Premises, Peel Street, near Wills Street
Quantity of Homoeopathic Medicines, Books, Bottles, Electro-plating Apparatus, Quantity of Plating Solution, &c, &c.,
Of the Late Dr Mitchell.

H. I. WHITE has received instructions from Mrs Mitchell, who is leaving for England, to sell by auction, on the premises, as above,
HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, &c, &c. comprising:
Tables, chairs, sofas and couches [?], engravings, fender and fireirons, carpets, clock, bedstead and mattresses, Chest Drawers, washstand and ware, dressing table and glass, crockery, glassware, kitchen Utensils, and quantatity of sundrieds
Terms - Cash
H. I. WHITE, Auctioneers

When Thomas was 32, he married Caroline Cane in 1879. They can both be found on the 1881 census with their new born daughter, Louisa, Hannah (Thomas' mother) and Hannah Elizabeth Brownley, his niece. They are living at New John Street West!

Hannah died on 27 December 1889 at 34 Terrace Road, Handsworth, Staffordshire, England. She was just 65 and had been to the other side of the world and back again.

By the time of the 1891 census Louisa was joined by three siblings: Thomas Edward born 26 November 1882 (he married Norma Gladys James (granddaughter of his father's sister, Julia James) in 1905), Caroline born in 1884 and Arthur was born in 1890. By the time of the 1901 census they have another child, Horace born in 1894.

Hannah Elizabeth Brownley by the time of the 1891 census was a nurse at the Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter. And by the time of the 1901 census Hannah is married (having married Francis Joseph Sparshott in West Bromwich in September quarter 1896) and living in London as a Professor of Music & Teacher of Singing. Her husband, Frank, is a School Master. (Thanks to The Genealogist for the ability to search the 1901 census by first name and key word only and Freebmd where I found the marriage which matched the first hit on The Genealogist).

Thomas and Caroline and their daughter, Caroline, are living at 5 Roberts Road by the time of the 1911 census. Frank and Hannah Sparshott are now at the Endowea School Nr High St, Whitstable with two sons and two daughters. 

Coming next - Edward Mitchell - Beyond the Grave.


  1. Great post! I'd love to subscribe by email. Would you mind adding the subscribe by email Blogger widget to your site so I can sign up? Many thanks, Janelle :)

    1. Hello Janelle

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for your positive comment. I have managed, I hope correctly, to add a follow by email box.

      Best Wishes

    2. Thanks Joynealogy, it seemed to work fine :)
      I use Blogger too & knew the widget was there for the taking.

    3. Thanks Janelle
      I found your blog and have managed to follow it. I love the post about phoning random people. Made me feel a bit better as I have emailed a random society to see if they can pass on a message to someone (I believe they are a member of the society as they are mentioned in a photo at the societies Christmas party in 2005) who happened to be in a newspaper photo with my possible 4th cousin twice removed in the hope that they can pass a message on to her. Just hard to explain in email without sounding like a stalker!

      Oh and yes I happen to have visited the Mermaid Pub when I was attending a conference with work. I thought I had taken pictures inside the pub so I will have to try and find them.

      Best wishes

  2. Thanks J! Yes, I've done the same, with varying success rates.

    The Mermaid pub is on my wish list of places to go. I've got a list ready for my next opportunity to go to the UK.

    Facebook is good for finding contacts too. I was doing my stepfather's tree, Butts, & was part of their FB group. Then while looking for someone in my family I found a death notice on Trove where someone in my family died & their daughter had married a Butts because she was listed as Mrs Butts, in the same area that my stepfather's family had come from. So I got the the Butts family FB page & asked if anyone knew this couple who had died, & one fellow did. As it turns out, he worked for the local council, so he could tell me their burial plot numbers, & took photos of their grave for me when he was next in that area. It was 500+ kms from my place, so I was very grateful. Gotta love social networking :)