William 'King' Mitchell

1742 - 1823


William Mitchell was the first son of John Mitchell of Doune, Perth by his wife Margaret Ferguson. He married Catherine Hamilton and they had one daughter. William 'King' Mitchell (as he was known on the island) resided in Jamaica for nearly forty years. He was both a plantation owner and an attorney who in his own estimate had 'perhaps 16 or 18’ sugar plantations under his ‘care’ at various times. He informed a committee in 1807 that he had spent over £30,000 on the erection of a sugar works on one of his own estates which included Windsor Park in St. Catherine, Bushy Park in St. Dorothy, New Hall in St. Thomas in the Vale and Georges Valley in Trelawny. Among others Mitchell did business with and borrowed money from the powerful Jamaica planter Simon Taylor.

Mitchell was returned as an M.P. for Plympton on the Treby interest at the general election of 1796. He was an active member of the Society of West India Planters and Merchants and gave evidence before Parliament's West India Committee in 1807. He returned to Jamaica in 1798, likely due to the death of his brother James. Although nominally held by Charles Germain, 2nd Viscount Sackville from 1776 to 1815, in real terms James had held the lease on the office of the Receiver-General, a post which brought in commission worth £6,000 per annum average. Mitchell took a place in the Jamaica Assembly in 1798 and managed to stave off a bill which would have replaced the commission system with a fixed salary. William then succeeded as the lessee of the office of Receiver-General and in 1808 he renewed the lease for a further 19 years from Sackville's younger brother George Germain, although it appears he appointed a deputy to this position. Mitchell's political influence in Jamaica was strong and he was instrumental in securing the position of Agent for Jamaica for his nephew Edmund Lyon.

During her residence in Jamaica Lady Nugent, the Governor's wife, met William Mitchell. She described him in her journal noting that 'Mr. M's delight is to stuff his guests, and I should think it would be quite a triumph to him to hear of a fever or apoplexy, in consequence of his good cheer. He is immensely rich, and told me he paid £30,000 per annum for duties to Government... He seems particularly indulgent to his negroes, and is, I believe, although a very vulgar, yet a very humane man.' This description gives an indication of the lifestyle of a wealthy Jamaica planter - the importance of sociability, generosity and a reputation for benevolence.

As a member of the House of Assembly Mitchell had to apply for leave before returning to England, which he did in 1805. Although it had been expected he would only remain a year he was still resident in London in 1808 when he gave evidence to a committee of inquiry on the distillation of sugar. He resided at Upper Harley Street in Marylebone and was well known for the extravagant social gatherings he arranged for the absentee Jamaicans in London. It is not clear if he ever returned to Jamaica.

Mitchell died at Brighton in 1823 having made a will in 1819 which bequeathed all his Jamaican estates and his property in Scotland to his nephew John Mitchell. He also left over £25,000 in annuities and legacies for his wife and other relatives.




David Beck Ryden, West Indian Slavery and British Abolition, 1783-1807 (Cambridge University Press, 2010), p.77, 243-44.

Ed. Philip Wright, Lady Nugent's journal of her residence in Jamaica from 1801 to 1805, (Kingston, University of the West Indies Press, 2002), p.55-6.

The National Archives, Kew, England, Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1679.

Mitchell family and estate papers relating to the affairs of the Mitchell family in Jamaica and England, 1725-1883. Gifts and deposits 7/194/1-69, Jamaica Archives, Spanish Town.

Further Information

Catherine Hamilton

Will of William Mitchell of [Spanish Town in the island of Jamaica but at present residing at] St Marylebone proved 01/12/1823, PROB 11/1679/2.

In the will, dated 11 Feb. 1819, William Mitchell bequeathed his Jamaican property and ‘personal estate’ in Scotland to his nephew John Mitchell and distributed over £25,000 in annuities and legacies between his wife and other relatives.

To his wife Catherine an annuity of £4000 p.a., £1000 immediately and the use of his leasehold house in Upper Harley Street, together with the household articles and half the wines.

To his nephew John (eldest son of his late brother David) the other half of his wines.

To his brother John an annuity of £500 in trust to be withdrawn if John sought to anticipate it.

To his nephew John (son of his brother John) 'now residing on my estate of New Hall in Jamaica' £5000

To his niece Margaret, daughter of his brother John the income on £3000.

To his nieces Jane and Margery Mitchell, daughters of his late [sic] said brother John, the income on £2000 each.

To his sister Christian and his sister in law Elizabeth Ann Lyon annuities of £100 p.a. each.

To his nephew and namesake William Mitchell (son of his late brother David) 5000 guineas.

100 guineas each to all his nephews and nieces other than John and William (the sons of David).

To his nephew John (son of David) his estates in Jamaica in trust for life with remainder to William Mitchell second son of David and then to William Murray Mitchell, at that time the only son of William the son of David, then to Rowland Mitchell (also son of David), then to his great-nephew James Mitchell, son of his nephew James Mitchell (fourth son of David Mitchell), then to Samuel Mitchell (fifth son of David).

[TBC for further provisions of the will, especially around the Office of Receiver General in Jamaica.]

In a codicil made in 1823 at Western Lodge in Brighton, William Mitchell replaced the annuity of £4000 p.a to his wife with one of £3000 p.a., replaced her half share of his wine with specific bequests of quantities, and increased his legacy to Margaret Mitchell to £5000 and to Eliza Mitchell the income on £3000 r other than £2000. He revoked the bequest of 5000 guineas to his nephew William and replaced it with £10,000 in trust for William's wife Jemima and their children.


Plantation owner

Associated Estates (17)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1786 [EA] - → Owner
1817 [EA] - 1823 [EY] → Joint owner
1826 [EA] - 1834 [LA] → Previous owner
1794 [EA] - 1823 [EY] → Owner

William Mitchell died in 1823 leaving his Jamaica properties to his nephew John Mitchell. The Jamaica Almanacs continued to list William Mitchell as the owner of Bushy Park until the 1825 edition which listed John Mitchell as the owner. The 1811 Jamaica Almanac was based on the givings in from the 1809 March Quarter hence the earlier evolution date. The 1825 Jamaica Almanac was based on the givings in from the 1824 March Quarter.

1786 [EA] - 1786 [LA] → Mortgagee-in-Possession

At some point after 1786, William Mitchell appears to have secured full ownership of the estate, of which he was at first the mortgagee.

1790 [EA] - 1790 [LA] → Owner
1798 [EA] - 1823 [EY] → Owner

William Mitchell died in 1823 leaving his Jamaica possessions to his nephew John Mitchell. The Jamaica Almanacs continued to list William as the owner after his death up until the 1826 edition (which was based on the givings in from the March Quarter 1825). Thereafter and up until the abolition of slavery in 1833 the property was listed as belonging to the 'heirs of William Mitchell.'

1823 [EA] - → Joint owner
1799 [EA] - 1824 [LA] → Owner
1784 [EA] - 1791 [LA] → Executor
1785 [EA] - 1796 [LA] → Receiver
1778 [EA] - 1782 [LA] → Attorney
- 1823 [EY] → Owner
1827 [EA] - 1832 [LA] → Previous owner
1786 [EA] - 1787 [LA] → Trustee

Co-trustee with John Deffell of the mortgagees-in-possession

1817 [EA] - → Other

Tenant by parole.

1809 [EA] - 1823 [LA] → Lessee

Relationships (9)

Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Notes →
Tentatively identified as the John Mitchell son of his brother John mentioned by William 'King' Mitchell in his will of...
Testator → Executor
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Trustee → Testator

Addresses (2)

Upper Harley Street, Marylebone, London, Middlesex, South-east England, England
Western Lodge, Brighton, Sussex, South-east England, England