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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Mitchell, James (1835–1914)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

James Mitchell (1835-1914), pastoralist, was born on 29 May 1835 at Brisbane Meadows, Bungonia, fourth and youngest son of Captain William Mitchell (1786-1837), grazier, and his wife Elizabeth, née Huon de Kerilleau. Her brother Charles had bought Mungabareena station (on the present site of Albury) from C. H. Ebden in 1836 and gave it to his widowed sister who moved there with her sons about 1841. Among the first white children on the Murray, the boys roamed with the Woradgery tribe and learned much Aboriginal lore and language. One brother, Thomas (d.1887), managed Mungabareena for his mother for some years before taking up Tangambalanga on the Kiewa River and later Bringenbrong.

Trained as a pastoralist by his brothers, James took over Table Top (Mungabareena) in 1859 and in twenty-five years enlarged it from 3000 (1214 ha) to 50,000 acres (20,235 ha). With surplus timber removed, rabbits exterminated and netting-fences and dams constructed, the station became a model property famous for its fine Devon cattle, blood horses and merino sheep whose wool often topped the market. In 1884 Table Top carried 49,000 sheep, 129 cattle and 96 horses. A noted rider in his youth and sportsman, Mitchell was patron of the Albury Racing Club, the Albury Licensed Victuallers' Race Club and his colours were a popular sight on Sydney, Melbourne and country race-courses. His most successful horse was Cremorne whose wins included the Doncaster Handicap (1893) and the Caulfield Cup (1896).

Mitchell was genial with liberal instincts and generous impulses. He died at Table Top on 3 April 1914 and was buried in the Church of England cemetery, Albury. He was survived by his wife Sarah Jane, née Huon, whom he had married at Wodonga about 1862, and by three sons and five daughters of their nine children. His estate was sworn for probate at over £143,000. A generous benefactor to Albury, he had given £2000 towards the new hospital in 1913-14. In his will he set aside £4000 for St Matthew's Church of England, £2000 to the clergy superannuation fund for the Goulburn diocese and smaller amounts to other churches and charities; all his employees were remembered by small legacies.

Select Bibliography

  • E. J. Brady, Australia Unlimited (Melb, 1918)
  • W. A. Bayley, Border City (Albury, 1954)
  • Sydney Mail, 5 July 1884
  • Albury Daily News, 3 Apr 1914
  • Evening News (Sydney), 3 Apr 1914
  • Wagga Express, 4 Apr 1914
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 1914.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Mitchell, James (1835–1914)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 24 November 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

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