Catherine Boak Byres and John Mitchell

Catherine Byres, was born on 27 March 1821 and baptised on 15 April 1821 in Kirknewton, Midlothian, Scotland. 1

John Mitchell's origins are not entirely clear, although he is shown as being baptised at his own request as an adult, at the age of 22, at Ecclesmachan on 3rd June 1841, 2 with a birth date of 12th July 1819 (and not baptised); lawful son of William Mitchell of Laweriston (Laurieston ?) in the parish of Falkirk; and Agnes Welsh of Threemiletown. John had an older sister, Ann, also born at Threemiletown, 3 who married a Robert Duncan. John Mitchell is recorded as having erected the headstone in memorial to his mother and sister, after their deaths in 1843 and 1844 respectively. 4

The 1841 Scottish census, shows John, a tailor by trade, living with his mother and sister in Threemiletown village. 5

Surname First name(s) Sex Age Occupation Where Born
WELSH Agnes F 50 West Lothian
MITCHELL Ann F 20 West Lothian
MITCHELL John M 20 Tailor West Lothian

Catherine is working as a servant in the house of John Stewart at East Binny, Linlithgow parish. 6

Surname First name(s) Sex Age Occupation Where Born
STEWART John M 65 Ind[ependant Means] West Lothian
STEWART Janet F 55 E[ngland]
PORTEOUS Margaret F 30 F[emale] S[ervant] West Lothian
WATSON Jane F 30 F[emale] S[ervant]
BYRES Catherine F 20 F[emale] S[ervant] West Lothian

In 1845, according to later documentation, Catherine Byres married John Mitchell in Linlithgow, West Lothian, Scotland. No record of this event has been found in Scotland's People. 7
It is believed that John married Catherine when she was about 24 years of age. There is in existence, a woven bookmark, with lettering - "JOHN MITCHELL, TAILOR" and "ECCLESMACHAN 1845" - possibly related to their marriage. Their family bible has also survived, and has a gold embossed nameplate inside the front cover - "JOHN MITCHELL, CATHERINE MITCHELL, 1849". 8 Several dried plants were found pressed within the pages of the bible, one of which has been identified as -

The 1851 census shows John and Catherine still in the village of Ecclesmachan, and living very close to Catherine's parents, William and Margaret. 9

No Place Name and Surname Relation Condition Age Occupation Where Born
18 Ecclesmachan John Mitchell Head M 29 Tailor Linlithgow - Threemiletown
Catherine Mitchell Wife M 28 Midlothian - Ratho

Catherine Byres and her husband John Mitchell also came to Victoria, believed to have been aboard the ship Eagle, which departed Liverpool on the 22 February and arrived in Melbourne on the 14 May 1853. 10 John established himself as a tailor in Wellington Street, Richmond. 11

Just seven years after the Byres exodus to Van Diemen's Land but on the other side of Bass Strait, Catherine Mitchell (nee Byres) died on 6 April 1862 in Collingwood, Victoria. Catherine was recorded as born in Linlithgow, Scotland, the lawful daughter of William Byres and Margaret Wilson. 12 According to Margaret Rackham :

... nothing was known of Catherine until it was discovered that she died in Victoria, Australia, when she was 40. There were no family references to her, no record of her marriage in Scotland. She has since been found on the 1841 census, as a female servant working in Linlithgow, Scotland, and in the 1851 census in Ecclesmachan with her husband John Mitchell, tailor, living two doors away from her her parents and younger siblings.
[Catherine] ... died in Park St. Collingwood, which was the address of her sister Mary Kerr. Her death certificate gave the cause of death as cancer of the womb. The informant on the certificate was James Shaw of Kyneton, brother to John Shaw who had married Catherine's younger sister Margaret Anne Byres, and who also lived at Kyneton. On the death certificate it was recorded that she was married in Linlithgow to John Mitchell, a tailor, at the age of 24, and had been in Australia 8 years when she died in 1862. 13

It is believed, that John Mitchell worked on the "Ceres" property of George Wilson snr at Mt Seymour, and after George died in 1874, went to work for John Bailey jnr, eventually moving to the Lake House property at Lake Tiberias with the Bailey family. John received a ₤20 annuity from the estate of George Wilson snr, 14 and is believed to have used some of those funds to finance a return trip to Scotland on Saturday 21 April 1877, aboard the "S.S. Durham." 15

Melbourne, 21st April.
That favorite passenger ship the Durham left Sandridge pier this afternoon for England, and as is usual at this season of the year, when an arrival at the antipodes in the summer months is preferred, the number of passengers was large, and necessarily there was a large attendance of friends as well as spectators. Amongst those who have taken their departure are Mr Mitchell, solicitor, of Ballarat; Mr F. Everingham, grain and produce dealer, Ballarat; Mr Greig, lately connected with the firm of Greig and Murray, auctioneers, Melbourne; and Midwinter, the well known cricketer. The latter, I understand, is only gone on a "flying" visit, but with cricketing objects in view. 16

For several hours on Saturday the Sandridge railway pier had an unusually crowded and busy appearance, occasioned by the departure of the s.S. Durham for London, and also by that of the steamers Generaal Pel and City of Adelaide for Sydney. At midday the pier in the vicinity of the Parham was a compact mass of humanity, and the trucks on the line, as well as the decks and rigging of the end ships on the east side of the pier, were eagerly availed of by spectators to have a parting look at the " homeward bound." The deck of the Durham were well nigh impassable and it required no small tact on the part of her officers, and the representatives of the agents, to maintain anything like working order. Towards noon, however, the warning bell for strangers to leave the ship had a perceptible influence in thinning the crowd and the stampede was marked by the usual jostling, pushing, and objurgation. Fortunately no accident occurred. As the Durham moved out from the pier the cheering from those on shore to those on ship, and back again, was loud and prolonged. The steamers of Messrs. Money Wigram and Sons' line are despatched at the hour notified with punctuality, and the Durham on Saturday was no exception to the rule, Captain Anderson and the pilot taking their places on the bridge after the arrival of the midday train. The Durham, after remaining in the bay for inspection by the health and immigration officers, left for Queenscliff, but did not clear the Heads until 10 minutes past 8 o'clock yesterday morning. At 23 minutes past 10 a.m, she was reported as being off Cape Schanck. 17

John returned to Victoria on the Northumberland on 27 November 1877. 18

Messrs. Money, Wigram and sons' favorite steamship Northumberland has on thin occasion made a longer passage than she has hitherto done, but it is fully accounted for by the faet that it has been a steaming one from beginning to end, as from the time she left Plymouth until passing Cape Leuwin, a succession of head winds were encountered, and Captain Shinner expresses himself that he was exceedingly fortunate in having placed on board 200 tons more coal this time than on any of his previous trips. She has, however, done the trip in fifty-five and a-half days, and has brought us four days later newspaper dates from London. The number of passengers brought out by her is 215, all of whom have enjoyed excellent health, and express themselves eulogistically of the kindness received from Captain Shinner and his officers. The passege, however, has not bean without its mishaps. Mr. Noakes, the second officer, who was a general favorite, not only on board, but also amongst many friends he made here during his series of voyages to this port, met with an accident in the English Channel, by a block falling from aloft and striking him on the head, which so severely injured him that he had to be lauded at Plymouth. The other was the death of Dr. J. P. Allwood, the surgeon of the vessel, who died on the 5th inst., since when Dr. Howe, a passenger, performed the duties. The Northumberland left Plymouth at seven a.m. on the 2nd of October, crossed the equator on the 10th in 14 west, passed the Cape of Good Hope on the 1st inst., Cape Leuwin on the 22nd, and made fast alongside the Sandridge Railway Pier yesterday at midnight. She will have but a short stay in port as she leaves again on Saturday week. The vessel, however, requires little or nothing doing to her, as she is in perfect order below and aloft, and the engines have been so well nursed that the chief engineer says they are in a fit state to turn back home again at once. 19

John Mitchell, husband of Catherine Byres, died at Lake Tiberias near Oatlands on 1 October 1893, aged 74. 20

MITCHELL. - On October 1, at Lake Tiberias, John Mitchell, in the 74th year of his age. Funeral leaves Parattah at 2 o'clock on TUESDAY. 21

John was buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Oatlands on 3 October 1893. 22

John Bailey jnr is advertised as the Trustee for John Mitchell's estate in October 1893, although no will has been located.

N O T I C E.
All Persons having CLAIMS against the Late JOHN MITCHELL, of Lake Tiberias, are requested to SEND IN their claims to the undersigned by the 24th instant.
October 14, 1893 23

John and Catherine did not have any known or recorded children.