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Mitchell, James (1786?-1844) (DNB00)


MITCHELL, JAMES (1786?–1844), scientific writer, was born in or near Aberdeen about 1786. He was educated at the university of that town, graduated M.A. at University and King's college in 1804, and was subsequently created LL.D. His whole fortune when he came to London in 1805 was 10, and he supported himself by teaching until he became secretary, first to the Star Insurance Company, then to the British Annuity Company. He was employed as actuary to the parliamentary commission on factories, and as sub-commissioner on those relating to handloom-weaving and the condition of women and children in collieries. Overtasked by these labours, he was struck with paralysis in June 1843, and died of apoplexy on 3 Sept. 1844, in the house of his nephew, Mr. Templeton, at Exeter, aged 58. He was a fellow of the Geological Society of London, to which he made numerous communications, and from 1823 a corresponding member of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries.

His works include:

  1. 'On the Plurality of Worlds,' London, 1813.
  2. 'An Easy System of Shorthand,' 1815.
  3. 'A Tour through Belgium, Holland, &c., in the Summer of 1816,' 1816.
  4. 'The Elements of Natural Philosophy,' 1819.
  5. 'The Elements of Astronomy,' 1820.
  6. 'A Dictionary of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences,' 1823.
  7. 'A Dictionary of Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology,' 1823.
  8. 'The Scotsman's Library,' Edinburgh, 1825, &c.

He left besides many folio volumes in manuscript descriptive of the geology of London and its neighbourhood; and he made at great expense collections relative to Scottish antiquities, some of which he presented to the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, while the remainder were bequeathed by him to the university of Aberdeen.

[Gent. Mag. 1844, ii. 432; Ann. Reg. 1844, p. 267; A11ibone's Dict, of English Literature; Ward's Men of the Reign; Poggendorff's Biog. Lit. Handwörterbuch; Roy. Soc. Cat. of Scientific Papers; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

A. M. C.