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John Mitchell Esq. of Arngask

Major employer of textile workers in Dundee, who made a donation rather than a subscription. He had recently become a landed proprietor at Arngask (then in Fife, but transferred to Perthshire in 1891).

Subscription value in 1863:

£50 (Donation)

Relative to inflation up to 2024:


Relative to income compared to 2024:


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Personal details and history

Full name

John Mitchell Esq. of Arngask

Date of birth


Place of birth




Marital status


Name of spouse

Mary Easson[2]


Mary b.1829[3] Elisbeth b.c.1831,[4] Isabella b.c.1832,[5] Robert b.c.1834,[6] Elizabeth b.c.1836,[7] Anne b.c.1838,[8] John b.c.1840.[9]

Home address

8 Baltic Street, Dundee, 1829-1838.[10]
11 Milnbank, Dundee, c.1842-1845.[11]
4 Milnbank, Dundee c.1846-1850.[12]
4 Fleuchar Craig, c.1853-1857.[13]
9 Fleuchar Craig, c.1858-1860.[14]
Pole Park House/5 Fleuchar Craig, c.1861-1872.[15]
Arngask, Fife, c.1864-1881.[16]

Age at death:

Place of death:

Arngask, Fife[17]

Date of death:




Affiliations, clubs, offices and related subscribers

Religious affiliation


Political affiliation


Clubs / societies

Treasurer, Hilltown Weaver Lodge, 1834.[18]

Public offices


Related subscribers

Subscriber no.71 – Alexander Easson Esq. who was a fellow Cowgate merchant and possibly a relation by marriage.

Subscriber no.83 – G.T. Graham Esq another fellow Cowgate merchant and his son’s partner in Mitchell & Graham.

Subscriber no.139 – John Mitchell junior Esq,, flaxspinner was his son.

Subscriber no.215 – Messrs Henry Smith & Co. would become partners in the running of Pole Park Works and be John Mitchell’s successors there.

Career and worklife


Flaxspinner,[19] Manufacturer[20] and Merchant[21]


Owner (employing 1500 men, women and children)[22]

Place of work

Pole Park Works and 6 Cowgate, Dundee.

Work address

Union Street, Maxwelltown, Dundee, c.1829-1834.[23]
11 Cowgate, Dundee, c.1840-1845.[24]
Pole Mill/Pole Park Mill, Lochee Road, Dundee, c1844-1862[25]
4 Cowgate, Dundee, c.1846-1859[26]
6 Cowgate, Dundee, c.1861-1868[27]
8 Cowgate, c.1869-1872[28]

Career to date:

John Mitchell was the son of Robert Mitchell, manufacturer and Isabella Tawse.[1][17] In 1828 he married Mary Easson, daughter of Robert Easson, manufacturer.[2] By 1829 he appears in the local directory as a manufacturer in his own right with a factory at Union Street, Maxwelltown, Dundee.[29] After 1837 he is normally referred to as a flaxspinner as well as manufacturer. In addition he is sometimes referred to as a merchant and by 1840[30] he is occupying premises in the Cowgate, the traditional area for linen (and later jute) merchants to have their business offices.[31] About the same time he moves his home address to the area known as Fleuchar Craig and is variously listed as being at numbers 10, 9 and 4, as well as at the neighbouring Milnbank. It seems possible that these are all descriptions of the same property and it would have been very close to the mill premises that Mitchell operated. Polepark Works were begun in 1834-36 and much expanded during the period of John Mitchell's ownership.[32] It is probable that he employed a relation, Robert Mitchell, as his manager at the Pole Park/Pole/Polepark Mill/Works as it was variously known. Robert also stayed in close proximity at various addresses in Easson's Angle and Milnbank Road.[33] In approximately 1856 Pole Park Mill is being run by J&R Mitchell & Co, 4 Cowgate, and a new manager, William Whyte, is in place. Robert Mitchell senior of J&R Mitchell & Co is now also living in Fleuchar Craig along with Robert Mitchell junior.[34] About this time John Mitchell's address changes to Pole Park House,[35] which was in the vicinity of his former home and certainly would have been very close to the company's works. The property was used as a nursery during the First World War and is currently used by Barnardos.[36] The 1861 census calls the property Pole House, Balgay Street, which was another name for Fleuchar Street.[37] On the census John Mitchell is described as employing 1500 men, women and children.[22] Although Pole Park House continues as his Dundee home, John also acquires the Arngask Estate in Fife as evidenced by his description as John Mitchell Esq of Arngask at the time of his handsome donation of £50 to the Albert Institute in 1863.[38]

More information

After purchasing Arngask John Mitchell divided his time between his new country home and his Dundee house.[39] By 1864 his son, John Mitchell junior, also of Pole Park House, has joined with George T Graham in the partnership of Mitchell & Graham, manufacturers and merchants, Baltic Linen Works, 26 Annfield Road, Dundee. Their office was at the same address of 6 Cowgate as John Mitchell senior.[40] The Baltic Linen Works and Grayfield House erected by Mitchell & Graham were largely financed by a £30,000 loan from John Mitchell senior.[41] By 1867 John Mitchell senior had joined forces with members of the Smith family to form the firm of Smith, Mitchell & Co., merchants, spinners and manufacturers, Polepark Works, with offices at 14 Panmure Street. The firm was described as spinning flax and jute.[42] Other members of the company were Henry Smith, Bracken Brae, Broughty Ferry; James Smith, Fernbank, Dudhope Terrace and Thomas Smith, Viewbank, Dudhope Terrace.[43] In 1871 an office at 8 Cowgate is owned by John Mitchell, merchant, and tenanted by Mitchell & Graham.[44] Smith, Mitchell & Co was fairly short-lived, as by 1874 Henry Smith & Co were listed as the owners of Polepark Works.[45] Photographs exist of the interior and exterior of the works, c.1900, decorated for the marriage of one of the sons of the Smith family.[46] The works were subsequently demolished and replaced by housing.[37] The family name lives on in the shape of Mitchell Street which follows the western boundary of the works.

Unfortunately, John  Mitchell junior died at Pole Park House on 29 October 1879.[47] This led to bankruptcy proceedings against Mitchell & Graham, which George T Graham blamed on Mr Hendry, law agent of Mr Mitchell senior, having after the death of the son stopped a cash credit at the bank for which the father was a security.[48]

John’s death certificate states that he died at Arngask House.[17] The value of his personal estate was £103,348 8s. 6d. He left the estate of Arngask and Haysmill to his younger son, John, together with a legacy of £20,000. John was already dead, but John senior had not revised his will of 1878.[49] His older son, Robert, was given an annuity of £200, as was his daughter, Betsy Mitchell. He left money to his married daughters: Mary Simpson, £12,000; Isabella Wilkie, £10,000 and Anne Hendry, £12,000 and £1000 to his brother, George. His executor, George T Graham, his son’s erstwhile partner, was left £1000 and a further £1000 was left to Dundee Royal Infirmary.[49]




  1. Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950. FHL Film Number 993425. Ancestry website. Statutory Registers. Arngask, Fife. Death. 7 June 1885. 404/1. Scotlands People website.
  2. Old Parish Record. Dundee. Marriage. 19 November 1828. 282/210 262. Scotlands People website.
  3. Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms. Dundee. Birth. 3 September 1829. FHL film no.993402 and 1841 Census Scotland. Dundee. 282 ED54 p.16. Ancestry website.
  4. 1841 Census Scotland. Dundee. 282 ED54 p.16. Ancestry website.
  5. 1851 Census Scotland. Dundee, Liff and Benvie, Forfarshire. 282 ED94 p.33. Ancestry website.
  6. 1851 Census Scotland. Dundee, Liff and Benvie, Forfarshire. 282 ED94 p.33. Ancestry website.
  7. 1861 Census Scotland. 2nd District Dundee, Liff and Benvie, Forfarshire. 282/2 ED42 p.2. Ancestry website.
  8. 1861 Census Scotland. 2nd District Dundee, Liff and Benvie, Forfarshire. 282/2 ED42 p.2. Ancestry website.
  9. 1851 Census Scotland. Dundee, Liff and Benvie, Forfarshire. 282 ED94 p.33. Ancestry website.
  10. Dundee Directories, 1829-1838. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  11. Dundee Directories, 1842-1845. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  12. Dundee Directories, 1846-1850. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  13. Dundee Directories, 1853-1857. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  14. Dundee Directory, 1858-59. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  15. Dundee Directories, 1861-1872. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee. Index to directories. Friends of Dundee City Archives website. 1871 Census Scotland. St Mary, Dundee, Liff and Benvie, Forfarshire. 282/2 ED27 p.40. Ancestry website.
  16. Dundee Directories, 1864-1870. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee. 1881 Census Scotland. Arngask, Fife. 404 ED1 p.11. Ancestry website.
  17. Statutory Registers. Arngask, Fife. Death. 7 June 1885. 404/1. Scotlands People website.
  18. Dundee Directory, 1834. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  19. Dundee Directories, 1837-1854. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  20. Dundee Directories, 1829-1869. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  21. Dundee Directories, 1867-1870. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  22. 1861 Census Scotland. 2nd District Dundee, Liff and Benvie, Forfarshire. 282/2 ED42 p.2. Ancestry website.
  23. Dundee Directories, 1829-1834. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  24. Dundee Directories, 1840-1845. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  25. Dundee Directories, 1844-1862. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  26. Dundee Directories, 1846-1865. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  27. Dundee Directories, 1861-1868. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  28. Dundee Directories, 1869-1872. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  29. Dundee Directory, 1829-30. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  30. Dundee Directory, 1840. Index to directories. Friends of Dundee City Archives website.
  31. McKean, Charles and Walker, David. (1985) Dundee - an Illustrated Introduction. Edinburgh. Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland/Scottish Academic Press. [p.32]
  32. Watson, Mark. (1990) Jute and Flax Mills in Dundee. Tayport: Hutton Press Ltd. [appendix 91]
  33. Dundee Directories, 1844-1854. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  34. Dundee Directory, 1856-57. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  35. Dundee Directory, 1861-62. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  36. Courier and Advertiser, Monday, 11 June 1990. Polepark House recollections. SP21:67. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  37. Ordnance Survey Town Plan - Dundee, 1857. Sheet LIV.5.22. National Library of Scotland website.
  38. Dundee Advertiser, Wednesday, 23 December 1863. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  39. Lists of Municipal Voters, Dundee, 1861-1884. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  40. Dundee Directories, 1864-1875. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  41. Dundee Courier, 8 May 1880. British Newspaper Archive website.
  42. Dundee Directory, 1867-68. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  43. Dundee Directory, 1869-70. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  44. Valuation Roll for the Burgh of Dundee, 1871-72. Dundee City Archives.
  45. Dundee Directory, 1874-75. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  46. Adamson, Peter and Lamont-Brown, Raymond. (1981) Victorian and Edwardian Dundee and Broughty Ferry from Rare Photographs. St Andrews: Alvie Publications. [plates 21 & 22]
  47. Dundee Advertiser, 31 October 1879. British Newspaper Archive website.
  48. Dundee Courier, 8 May 1880. British Newspaper Archive website.
  49. Wills and Testaments. Dundee Sheriff Court. 12 September 1885. SC45/31/35 637. Scotlands People website.


Thanks to the ever helpful staffs of Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee; Dundee City Archives; Perth & Kinross Archives and Local and Family History, A K Bell Library, Perth.

The information above about John Mitchell Esq. of Arngask has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.