Topic: Samuel Mitchell (1841-1894)

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Captain of the Foretop (Warrant Officer) Samuel Mitchell participated in the Battle of Gate Pā (Pukehinahina) on 29 April 1864. He carried mortally wounded Commander Edward Hay from the battlefield under fire and for this action was awarded the Victoria Cross.

Drawing taken from a photograph of Samuel Mitchell at 23 a short time after he was awarded the Victoria Cross

Lookign wrong? Archived version here.

Samuel Mitchell was likely born in Aspley Guise in Bedfordshire, England, in 1841. He was christened in the nearby village of Husborne Crawley on 8 September 1841.

In December 1860 Samuel was appointed to HMS Harrier.

Samuel was Commander Edward Hay’s Coxswain. He stayed close to Hay during the assault on Gate Pā on 29 April 1864. Samuel carried the mortally injured Hay out through the rear of the pā under fire, even though Hay had ordered Samuel to abandon him. For this act, Samuel was awarded the Victoria Cross on 23 July 1864. 

As Samuel was carrying Hay, he was met by Staff Surgeon William George Nicholas Manley (1831-1901) who, notwithstanding the chaos around him, dressed Commander Hay's wounds under fire and then went to attend to other wounded in the pāIt is said that William was one of the last officers to leave the pā and he was also to receive the Victoria Cross for his heroic actions that day.

The drawing above is from the Sydney Morning Herald (15 October 1864), taken from a photograph of Samuel, aged 23, after he was awarded the Victoria Cross in September 1864.

Mitchell Street in Tauranga is named after Samuel.

On 21 May 1870 he married Agnes Ross.

The 11 children of Samuel and Agnes Mitchell:

  1. Ellen Mitchell.
  2. Esther Mitchell.
  3. Ada Mitchell.
  4. Ruby Mitchell.
  5. Isabella Mitchell.
  6. Edith Mitchell.
  7. Samuel Mitchell.
  8. Stewart Mitchell.
  9. John Mitchell.
  10. William Mitchell.
  11. Frank  Mitchell.

Samuel Mitchell (Photo: Find A Grave).

Samuel drowned, aged 52, in the flooded Mikonui River near his farm on 16 March 1894. On the day of his death it appears that he tried to cross the Mikonui and was struck by a floating tree or a fresh [a sudden rise in the river level] coming on very quickly, which led to his drowning. Three days later Samuel's body was found down the coast by William Green, a farmer in the area and a former sailor who had also participated in the Battle of Gate Pā.

Samuel was buried in the cemetery positioned on a hill above the township of Ross, about 30 minutes south of Hokitika, in South Westland. His headstone reads: In Loving Memory of Samuel Mitchell V.C. who was drowned in the Mikonui River on 16th March 1894, aged 52 years. Also his beloved wife, Agnes, who died at Ross 23rd October 1918, aged 71 years. At Rest. Erected by their family.

Samuel Mitchell (1841-1894)

The grave of Samuel Mitchell. Photo: Geoff Andrew (2015).

The photograph above of Samuel's headstone was taken on the morning of 29 April 2014, the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pā, by Geoff Andrew A/Lt Cdr, RNZN.

A replica of Samuel's Victoria Cross is on display in the Hokitika Museum. On New Year's Day 2015 historian Cliff Simons visited the museum and viewed the replica.

A plaque on the bottom of Samuel's headstone states that his grave was restored by family with the help of the Royal New Zealand Navy, and dedicated in February 2005.


See Also:

Brave British Soldiers and the Victoria Cross

Relatives of VC winner at Gate Pa Centenary

Tauranga names resulting from the Battle of Gate Pā



Cliff Simons (personal communication, October 2015).

Geoff Andrew (personal communication, October 2015).

Identity and the Battle of Gate Pa (Pukehinahina), 29 April 1864 (5 August 2011) by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga Memories Kete: Battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga, 1864).

Samuel Mitchell Booklet.

Samuel Mitchell V.C. by Peter Mitchell (a great grandson of Samuel Mitchell) (1999. Updated 26 August 2013).



This page archived at Perma CC in March of 2017:

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Samuel Mitchell (1841-1894)

First Names:Samuel
Last Name:Mitchell
Date of Birth:1841
Place of Birth:Aspley Guise, Bedfordshire
Country of birth:England
Date of death:16 March 1894
Place of death:Mikonui River, Hokitika
Place of burial:Ross Cemetery
Date of Arrival:1864
Name of the ship:HMS Harrier
Spouses name:Agnes Ross
Spouses place of birth:Elgin, Scotland
Spouses date of death:23 October 1918
Spouses place of death:Ross
Spouses place of burial:Ross Cemetery
Spouses nationality:Scottish
Date of marriage:21 May 1870
Place of marriage:Ross
Fathers name:William Mitchell
Mothers name:Eleanor Field
Military Service:New Zealand Wars and Victoria Cross