1813 Robert
1814 Thomas
1816 Mary
1818 Frederick
1819 Eli / Henry

John Mitchell 1786 - 1865

Born about 1786 in Leigh, Staffordshire, John Mitchell is the earliest member of the Mitchell family that has been identified. Further investigation is required to confirm the place of his birth and the identity of his wife Margaret whom he married sometime before 1813 when their first child Robert was born. Unfortunately Robert only lived for a few months dying in September of that year. Their remaining four children all survived childhood.

In 1841 John, Margaret and their two youngest were living at Smithy Lane, Uttoxeter. John and his sons are all listed as being boatmen. Uttoxeter canal was built in 1811 and it is quite possible that because of this John moved to find work on the newly constructed waterway and subsequently met Margaret, who was born in Uttoxeter sometime around 1774.

Census reports
BMD Records

Family Tree


According to the website A Vision of Britain through Time there were some 24,000 men and women working the canals of England and Wales in 1840. The Uttoxeter canal was a branch of the Caldon Canal, itself a branch of the Trent & Mersey waterway. It is said it was built by the owners of the Trent & Mersey to prevent rivals extending the existing Stoke canal structure and thereby impinging upon their profits. When completed around 1811 the Uttoxeter canal ran for some 13 and a quarter miles from the Froghall Wharf to the Uttoxeter Basin and used over 17 locks to drop down the gradient.

The life of the canal was relatively short lived due to the introduction of the Churnett Valley Railway which made the transportation of cargo a lot quicker and resulted in the closure of the canal by 1850.

Uttoxeter Canal Route
Approximate route of the Uttoxeter Canal from Froghall Wharf located near Kingsley, via Alton to Uttoxeter


Uttoxeter Canal Schematic
Schematic of locks, bridges etc on Uttoxeter Canal

19th Century Newcastle
19th Cent. map of Newcastle. Stubbs Gate highlighted

Although the canal had officially closed by 1850, the 1851 census still lists John Mitchell has being a boatman, even though aged 63. His sons however had either moved to continue to work the waterways or seeked alternative employment. John and Margaret did however have 2 grandchildren living with them at Smithy Lane, Uttoxeter, along with Sarah Dix described as a 56 year old widow, sister to John and working as a washerwoman. The first of the two grand daughters was Eliza Bond who had been living with her grandparents 10 years earlier and was now employed as a shoe binder at the age of 16. She and her 10 year old sister were the children of Mary .

Smithy Lane in Uttoxeter hasn't been identified though it is likely to have been in the proximity of Smithfield Road which is the address for John and Margaret in the 1861 census report. John was now 76 and described as being 'past work', Margaret was 11 years older. Son Eli was living next door and Thomas 2 or 3 doors away so it is presumed they were looked after. It is thought that John died in 1865, his wife dying at around the same time in the first quarter of that year.



1835 Thomas
1837 John
1838 Ann
1840 Clement
1843 Frederick
1845 Margaret
1847 William
1849 Mary
1849 Joseph

Thomas Mitchell 1814 - 1886

The second child born to John and Margaret, Thomas was baptised at Uttoxeter on the 27th February 1814. On 22nd September 1834 he married Sarah Grundy at St Mary's, Uttoxeter, their first child Thomas Isaac being born some months later. Sarah was some seven years older than Thomas having been born at Lichfield in 1807. Their second child John only survived a few months, dying on 25th February 1838.

In 1841 Thomas, like his father and two brothers, was working as a boatman whilst living next door but one to his family on Smithy Lane, Uttoxeter. They must have been living in rather cramped conditions for along with three of their own children there were four of Sarah's step sisters, recently orphaned. Over the next 8 years Sarah gave birth to 6 more children including twins Mary and Joseph, born in 1849 though they only survived for a few weeks.

Census reports
BMD Records

Family Tree


By 1851 Thomas had left the canal and found work as a porter on the newly opened railway. It would be interesting to know whether this caused any conflict between John and his three sons. He and son Frederick were still working the canals whilst Thomas and Eli had gone over to the other side and were working for the rival railway company. Conditions in the house on Smithy Lane must have been even more cramped for the household now counted 12; Thomas and Sarah, 6 children, a step sisters of Sarah's (all but Elizabeth Grundy had left by this time), plus 4 visitors. One was a 20 year old cattle drover from Ashbourne by the name of George Perkin, the second was John Smith, 56 from Leicester whilst the last was 50 year old Henry Mace originally from Derby. Smith and Mace were making a living by hawking cotton and needles as indeed was Elizabeth Grundy. Thomas and Sarah's two eldest children were also working, Thomas as a carter and Ann as a servant.

The 1861 census find the Uttoxeter based Mitchells living on Smithfield Road which must be the same place as Smithy Lane for by the following report they are all back living there. The household had been reduced to Thomas, Sarah, just two children; Frederick and William and a 72 year old lodger named George Cope. Thomas now 47 is shown to be a watchman at the Railway whilst sons Frederick and William were working as carters, possibly alongside their uncle Eli. Of their other children eldest Thomas Isaac had married Eliza Cundliffe/Condliffe in 1856 at Newcastle under Lyme. The fact Thomas Isaac had moved to Newcastle along with his uncle Frederick and that his wife Eliza originated from Runcorn, the same area as Frederick's wife Elizabeth Condliffe it should be fair to assume Eliza and Elizabeth were realted in some way. The erratic variations in the spelling of Condliffe however has prevented any connection being proven to date.

Daughter Anne who in the 51 census was shown to be working as a servant although still living at home, disappears off the radar for a while, she will return later as a widow with three children. Clement John married Jane Foster in 1860 and was living with his widowed mother in law in Uttoxeter and like his father working for the railway as a porter. The last child unaccounted for was Margaret who in 1861 was 15 and working as a general servant for a draper in Ashby de la Zouche.

Thomas continued to work for the railway either as a nightwatchman or a porter. His wife Sarah died in 1877 so he and son William who never married, were joined in the house on Short Street, by daughter Ann who in her absence had married someone named Ford and was now a widow with 3 sons to support. Five years after the 1881 census Thomas himself died at the age of 72 leaving the house on Short Street to son William who himself died aged 51 in 1899.


Mary Mitchell 1816-1892

The only daughter of John and Margaret, Mary maried Thomas Bond on the 13th December 1832 in Uttoxeter. Thomas worked as an agricultural labourer, an occupation not renowned for its finincial security so having 11 children to raise could not have been easy for the couple that occupied the same house on Short Street, Uttoxeter for over 40 years. All but one of the 11 children were girls. Thomas died at the age of 75 in 1886, Mary some 6 years later.

Frederick Mitchell 1818-1896

Like his father and brothers, Frederick started work as a boatman on the canals. Unlike his brothers however he continued to work the waterways moving to Newcastle under Lyme when the Uttoxeter branch was closed. In 1847 he married Elizabeth Condliffe at Elworth in Cheshire. There are various spellings of Elizabeth's surname to be found originating from around the Ettiley Heath/Sandbach area of Cheshire.

The couple never had any children of their own but had a succesive stream of nieces and nephews staying with them at their house on Stubbs Gate, Newcastle. Elizabeth died shortly after the 1881 census at the age of 57. Frederick lived to be 78, dying in 1896.

Eli Mitchell 1819-1894

On the 27th September 1841 Eli married Elizabeth Venables from Uttoxeter. On the demise of the canal in Uttoxeter Eli changed occupation to that of carter, predominantly carrying coal a lot of which was used by the newly opened railway. Despite leaving the canal Eli continued to live on Smithy Lane, a few doors away from his parents and his elder brother Thomas. Eli and Elizabeth had 8 children before he died at the age of 75 in 1894. Elizabeth lived until 1902.