The Doctors' Thread

The Story of the Mitchells of Killymallaght

The earliest trace I have been able to find is in a document dated 19 April 1716 when "David Mitchell of Killomalagh" was one of "The Severall Inhabitants of The Mannor of Goldsmiths summoned to appear at a Court leet held at New buildings for the said Mannor".


Either the same man, or perhaps his son, also "David Mitchell of Killymullogh" is listed as a Presbyterian Householder at Killymallaght in 1740.  The 1740 list also includes John Mitchell at Tirkeeveny, Josias Mitchell at Drumcorran, and James Mitchell at Bogagh.


Scotch-Irish and Presbyterian the Mitchell's were, of this there can be no doubt.  As Mary Kerr, wife of Thomas Mitchell of Drumenny, wrote on 11 October 1905, in a letter to her eldest son, my grandfather Dr James Alexander Mitchell (your uncle Jim), who was then in South Africa: 


"Now for Mitchell.  Three brothers came from Scotland over 200 years ago settled in Glendermott & a good part of Donagheady, men strong of body & fleet of limb, tall & stalwart like the oldtime Highlanders, ......"


Certainly there were Mitchell's in Londonderry and the Inishowen peninsula of co. Donegal in the 1630's – this is apparent from the various muster rolls that have survived, and several Mitchell's probably served in the Laggan Army of the 1640's under Col. Sir Robert Stewart.  There is a record that, in 1641, probate was granted under the will of one David Mitchell of Glencash, which is nearby in Donagheady parish.  These were wild times, and the traveller W. Gailey, describing a run in county Derry in his "Guide to Derry and its suburbs and County of Donegal, 1892", mentions that: 


"on the side of the opposite hill to the south-east, marked by a school-house, lies the townland of Killymallaght, where, says a local tradition, a massacre of the Protestant settlers by a band of the ruffianly and atrocious followers of Sir Phelim Roe O'Neill, occurred in 1641."


A further indication of our Scottish roots can be found in Simington's "Civil Survey of co. Londonderry 1654 – 1656", where he recorded that:


"Wee finde that David Mitchell, Scotts protestant, hath an Estat in fee semple on two Belliboes belonging to the abovešd Robt Stewart called Annaghgini & Crivagh at the yearely Rent of fower pounds".


This was the famous Lt.Col. Robert Stewart, later Governor of Londonderry, who commanded the Laggan Army that was out in force against Sir Phelim O'Neill in 1641 – 1642, and it would be fair to assume that this David Mitchell had received his lease in exchange for military services rendered "to the Crown".  (It is noteworthy that another sub-lease from Lt.Col. Robert Stewart was held in the same area by his own brother, Sir James Stewart.)


Picking up the story again at Killymallaght, I have found three Mitchell to Mitchell land transfers.  The first is dated 8 April 1807 (confirmed on 22 June 1816) and was:


"made Between John Mitchell of Killymalagh in the parish of Glendermott in the Liberties of Londonderry of the one part and Robert Mitchell son to said John Mitchell of the other part whereby He the said John Mitchell hath Assigned Transferred and Set over unto the said Robert Mitchell ......... all his the said John Mitchel’s right Title and interest of in and to all that parcel of Land then in his possession situate in the town Lands of Killymalagh, and Tirkeveny, in the Parish of Glendermott and Liberties of Londonderry aforesaid together with all the Houses and buildings thereon: Subject however to the payment of the yearly rent of ten pounds five shillings and eight pence ...."


A witness to this transfer was Alexander Mitchell, who was presumably John Mitchell's brother.


This same Alexander Mitchell witnessed the second memorial -- of this I am sure, as I have personally handled the original parchments -- dated 16 August 1811 (confirmed on 2 May 1815), whereby:


"Samuel Mitchell for the considerations therein did assign and make over unto his Son James Mitchell All that third part of the dividend of the Farm and Parcell of Land in Kilemanagh situate lying and being with in the Manor of Goldsmiths Hall in the County of Londonderry from the date thereof during the residue of the Lives therein mentioned with benefit of Renewal subject to a third of a Dividend of the Rent".


It therefore appears likely that at least John, Samuel and Alexander Mitchell were brothers.


The third memorial is dated 13 September 1809 (confirmed 13 October 1809) and was between:


"David Mitchel of Killymalagh in the County of Londonderry Senior of the one part & David Mitchel Junior his son of the other part whereby the said David Mitchel Senior for & in Consideration of the sum of Fifty pounds sterling for Love & Affection & for the other Considerations therein mentioned Did Grant Bargain Sell Assign & make over unto the said David Mitchel Junior All that part of the Town & Lands of Killymalagh aforesaid containing fourteen Acres be the same more or less as the same was then held by Lease under William Warren Esquire situate in the manor of Goldsmiths Hall in the County aforesaid".


As one Mrs Martha Salyer (who was the daughter of Hamilton Young of Killymallaght and his wife, Sarah Mitchell) wrote in the 1860’s or thereabouts, describing her childhood in Killymallaght …….


“We lived on the slope up the hill from the county road, about a half mile: and just above us lived James Mitchell of the “Hill”, and below us lived James Mitchell of the Lowertown.  My grandfather’s name was James Mitchell too:  so that when he was alive there was a whole tier of Mitchells.  Along past the school house towards Derry was what was called the “Old Town”, where Mitchells and McKinlays were as thick as bees.


Most of the inhabitants of Killymallaugh that counted for anything were either Mitchells or McKinlays. ........   By the time I came along, the McKinlays and the Mitchells were so pretty well mixed that it was really necessary when time came for one of them to marry, to go outside for them to select a partner, "just from among the folks" if he didn't want to marry his second or thirty-second cousin. ...... "


In 1835, the Ordnance Survey for Glendermott Parish states that David Michel, the Schoolmaster of the Killymallaugh School, reported:


"one fifth less in atendance comparing 10th July with 10 Decr. cause small children unable to cross fields & thos of the poorer Classes for want of sutable winter clothing.  Mr M. has a writing school allso.  these nights schools is a comon practise with all Country schoolmasters Farmers servants & small farmers sons generaly atend these schools & are chiefly indebted to them for their information both in writing and arithmetic".


Also that:


"The sunday school held in Killymallaugh established in 1824 conducted by D. Michel never has been visited by any clargey man in the parish." 


This school was established in 1823.  In the 1832 Ordnance Survey Memoir, it is listed as having 60 pupils -- 52 Presbyterian, 5 Roman Catholic and 3 other denominations.  Master:  David Mitchel or Mitchell, Presbyterian.  The actual schoolhouse was described as "in the loft of a barn" (or "on the left of a barn"?).  David Mitchell was schoolmaster there from 1824 until at least 1835. 

Just starting  -- more to follow ....

Dave Mitchell

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