Experience Mitchell

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Experience Mitchell, whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), was born about 1602.1 He died at Bridgewater, Plymouth Co., Massachusetts, before 14 May 1689.1,2,3

Experience married (1) Jane Cooke, daughter of Francis Cooke and Hester le Mahieu, at Plymouth, Plymouth Co., Massachusetts, 22 May 1627;4,1,5 he married (2) Mary (…), whose parents are unknown (or untraced), about 1632.1

Experience Mitchell arrived at Plymouth on the Anne in the summer of 1623. By some accounts he was born about 1609, would have been 14 when he migrated and was granted land in the 1623 land division, and 18 when he married Jane Cooke. That is young for these experiences, and Anderson estimates he was actually born about 1603 which is probably more accurate than Underhill, who was drawing on Dexter.

In that first division of 1623, Experience was granted eight acres "against the swampe & reed-ponde." On 22 May 1627, the cattle were divided and the group headed by Francis Cooke gained the "least of the 4 black Heyfers Came in the Jacob and two shee goats." Jane was shown as Jane Cooke in this list.

After he married Jane, they first lived on what was later called Spring Hill, which he sold in 1631:
May the 9 Ano 1631--Experience Michell sould unto Samuell Eddy his dwelling house garden plott & fence, wth all things nailefast in ye same; for the sum of twelfe pounds starling, as appears more at large by a writing under their hands, to which Frances Eaton was witness.

Only this was excepted by the above said Experience Michell, so much of the said garden plote as lyeth betweene the ende of the house & the streete; throw which notwithstanding he was to alow the said Samuel a convenient way of passage, and to fence the said ground (thus excepted) at his own charge, & to maintaine the same."

Having found that the land around Plymouth was not very productive, many of the early planters, including Mitchell, soon removed to Duxbury. A tax list of 1633 for Duxbury shows him there. His homestead was at the Bluefish River, and he held other plots throughout the town. The General Court assigned hay ground to various inhabitants of Plymouth, Ele River, & "Ducksbury," including one to John Cooke who was to have his portion "in some convnyent place about Experience Michells & Henry Howlands grounds." Apparently the latter two had been jointly using a spring for many years, and in 1652 they formalized an agreement to do so, 23 May 1652 before Miles Standish and John Alden:
Henery howland and Experience Michell. . . having there Lands Joyning together and there habitations neare eich other and the said Henery howland having. . . a spring and smale brooke before his Land for watering of cattle and otherwise, and the said Experience Michell being wholly Defective of the abovesaid," Howland granted Experience a way to the water.

In late 1636, the Plymouth Colony Court directed "That every mans marke of his Cattle be brought to the towne book where he lives" and Experience recorded his at Plymouth.

His lands are mentoned in various deeds and grants, and also as abutting other's lands:
John Alden's land was bounded "att the upper end" by Experience Michell;
On 3 September 1638, Nathaniel Morton was granted "aporcon of meadow land called Long Poynt, lying against Experience Michells land, & next to John Willis." Experience had purchased this land from Norton, 15 January 1652, for £3 10s.
Another purchase was from "William Paybody of Duxburrow, for £14 sterling. . . sould unto the said Experience Michell an house and land in Duxburrow aforesaid att blewfish river next ajoyning on the one side unto the land the said Expeince Michell now Inhabyteth. . . with a pcell of meddow land belonging unto the aforesaid house and land. . . five acars," 20 November 1650. Three years later, Experience sold "his now dwelling house and outyard, and out housing. . . with a pcell of upland," in Duxbury, to William Tubbs.

"Ducksburrow" was made a township with the priviledges of a town on 7 June 1637. Experience is mentioned in several grants the town made: "fifty acres, with some meadow to it. . .  at the North River," on 2 November 1640. In 1645 he was called a "Planter," and was granted, with others, "a competant proportion of lands about Saughtuckequett [Satuckett]" which became Bridgewater, June 1656. He was one of 54 original proprietors of the town, though later sold his proprietary right to Thomas Haward.

On 3 October 1662, he was one of a group nominated for consideration for lands on the northerly bounds of Taunton “if any be left over.”

On 8 June 1664, the court allowed Josias Cooke, Experience Mitchell, and three others, "to looke out a pcell of land lying betwixt Bridgewater and the Bay line for their accomodation." This resulted in the apportionment, 7 June 1665, of a tract "on the westerly Side of Namasskett River. . . thirty Acres a Share of good Land, as also Comoning adjoyning thereunto proportionable." There were 24 shares with no one to have more than two. Experience was fifth on the list, being given a share "for his children." Later Duxbury "gave unto Experience Mitchell fifty acres of land on the south of rocky plain near Namassakeesit," and ordered it laid out, 10 October 1670. Two years later, 6 May 1672, the town gave him "five acres of Swampy meadow land, lying towards the head of Pudding brook, near Namassakeesett. . . a swamp or mill brook that falls into Pudding brook." Namassakett became Middleborough in 1669.

He was granted lands in Dartmouth, 5 June 1668: "Aportion of land is graunted unto Experience Mitchell lying next unto Hugh Coles graunt, which is betwixt Mattapoisett Reiver and the easterly bounds of Acushena, on the western syde of the said river." He probably never lived there, though his son Jacob did settle there, and the other children profited by leasing the land.

He served in numerous town offices and in colonial affairs. He was made freeman, with full rights of a citizen in 1633, and appears in lists of freemen of Duxburry in 1646 and 1670. He servied on numerous juries: 1 Jun 1647, 7 Jun 1648, 6 Jun 1649, and 3 Jul 1654. He was on a jury at the Court of Assistants, 1 September 1640, and on a jury at the General Court 5 March 1643/4, 7 June 1649, and 4 June 1652. He was "sworned for the Grand Inquest, 2 June 1640, and "for refusing to serve on the Grand Inquest, June 7, 1659,--being chosen for the towne of Duxborrow--was fined ten shillings." He was at the following court in October. He also served 5 June 1666, and under Governor Winslow, 5 June 1677. With Joseph Andrews he was on a Coroner's jury," 7 May 1662.

He and Constant Southworth were chosen "Surveyors for heighways for Duxborrow" 3 March 1639/40 and also 2 June 1640; Mitchell was again appointed 1 June 1658. On 3 July 1654, "for the ending of a contraversie" between Arthur Howland and Thomas Dogget as to the bounds of their lands, "the Court doe determine that Capt Standish, Mr Alden, Phillip Delanoy, and Experience Michell shall, as soone as convently they can, goe thether and acquaint with the bounds of the said lands according to the original graunt."

He was on the "Able to Bear Arms" list, taken in August 1643 which named the "Males that are able to beare Armes, from 16 years old to 60 yeares, wthin the severall Towneshipps."

He was able to sign his name, having done so on a deed of 8 Jan 1679/80. Privately held by the Forbes family and not recorded, it was published in 1905 in The Mayflower Descendant. The paper contains the signatures of not only Experience, but also that of John Alden and two other sons of Mayflower passengers. The deed was from Experience to Edward Forbes, son of Constant and John Forbes, probably Experience's nephew as Constant Forbes is believed to be his sister:
To all people to whom thes presents shall Come Exsperience michell of the town of duxbury in the Jurisdiction of Ne[w] Plimoth In New Ingland planter sendeth greetting:

Know yea that I the abovesd Exsperience Michell for and in Consideration of forty shillings of Current pay of new Ingland to me paid in hand by Edward foabs of Bridgewater in the Jurisdiction aforesaid Copper: with whch said sum of forty shillings I the abovesd Exsperience michell do acknowledge my self fully sattisfied Contented and paid the whole and every pt & parcell thereof: and do by these prsents acquite and discharge the abovesd Edward foabs he his heirs Executors and administrators for ever :

and have frelly fully and absolutly Given granted Bargained sold allinated Enfeaffed and Confirmed : and by these presents do Give grant bargaine sell allinate Enfeofe " and Confirm from me the abovesaid Exsperience michell and my heires unto him the said Edward ffoabs he his heirs and assignes for ever : all that my house lott or parcell of land sittuate wthin the townshipe of Bridgwater afforsd Buttion one the river on the northerly end and bounded by the lands of samuell Edson senr on of the westerly sid and by the lands of Edward ffoabs on of the Easterly sid Containeing six accres be it more or less : with all and singular the appurtances Imunities and priviledges thereunto belonging or any way apertaining to all or any pt or parcell thereof the said house lote or percell of land Containing six accres more or less settuate & bounded as aforsd. with all my siad Right title and interest into all and every pt and percell thereof To have and to hold : the afforesaid houselote or percell of land Containing six accres more or less. butted and bounded afforsd : and all my right title and Interest of or into the abovesaid house lote or percell of land unto the said Edward ffoabs he his heirs & assigns for ever to the proper use & behoofe of the said Edward foabs he his heirs and assigns forever

To be houlden according to the manner of East greenwich in the Countty of Kent in the Realme of Ingland in free and Common soccage : and not by knights servis by the rents of servisses thereof due and of right accomstomed fre and Cleare and Clearly acquitted of and from all other and former gifts grants bargains sailes leases morgages Intaills Joynters dowries Exstentes uses : and of and from all other titles trobles Charges demaunds and incombrances whatsoever had made suffered or done by me the abovesd Exsperience Michell my heirs or assigns or by any other parson or parsons Lawfully Claiming from or by or under me or them or any of them : or by there act Title privitie or procurment Waranteing the sale & title hereof against all people whatsoever in by through or under me the said Exsperience michell or by my right or title : Claiming any right title or in enterest of or into the premisses or any part of percell thereof whatsoever and that the said Edward ffoabs his heirs and assigns and every of them shall and may by vertue of these presents from time to time and all tims for ever hearaffter Lawfully peaceablely and quietly have hold use occupie posess and InJoye all and singuler the beforgranted premises with their and every of Rights titles and appurtanances and have and receive all the rents Issues and profits thereof to his and theire one proper use and behoof for ever : without any lawfull sut truble deniall interuption or destrubance of the said exsperience michell his heirs or assigns or any other parson or parsons whatsoever Claiming from by or under them or of them or by any of theire means act consent title interest privitie or procurmt

Also the said Exsperience michell doth Covenant and promise to & with the said Edward foabs that it shall and ma be lawfull to & for the said Edward foabs Etheir by himself or his atturnny to record and enrole or Cause to be Recorded and enroled the title and tenor of these presents. in any of magesties Courts of records acccording to the ussuall manner and order of recording and enrolling Deeds and evidences in such Case made & provided and for the true performanc of the premises I the said Exsperience michell do bind my self my heirs Executors & adminestrators firmly by thes presets In witnes wherof I have hereunto set to my hand and seale this Eight of Jenuary one thousand six hundered seventy nine

Signed sealed & delivered          Experince Michell
In presence of us
John Soule
Jonathan alden

this deed was acknowledged by Experinc michell this : 8 : 11 : 79 "
          before me     John Alden
Experience left a will dated 5 December 1687, and proved 4 September 1689:
These are to publish and Declare to all whome it may Concerne that I Experience Mitchell now living in the town of Bridgewater in the Colony of NewPlimouth being through the Mercy of God of Sound judgement and memory Do ordaine and make my last will and Testament in manner following vizt:

Into the hands of God I commend my Spirit believingly, Resigning up my Soul into the Everlasting Armes of Gods mercy father Son and Holy Spirit: My Body to be Decently Interred at the Discression of my Executor and other Christian friends and for my outward Estate I Doe Will that after all my just Debts and funerall Expences be paid my lands and other Moveables be Disposed of as followeth. . . .

Imprimis I Give unto my Son Edward Mitchell after my Decease all my Lands both upland and meadow Lying in the Town of duxbury at the place were I formerly Dwelt as appeareth by Deed

And if it shall please God So to Order that my wife Mary Mitchell Shall Survive me I Require my Son Edward to take Care of her for her Comfortable Subsistence During her Life provided that she will live with him at Bridgwater, but if She Rather Incline to live at duxbury I then order that half the Rent of that land at dubury shall be to my wife During her life and after my Decease my Son Edward shall have the sole Dispose of it as to the letting of it out for the house I acknowledge it to be his;

Also the Bed and boulster two pillows one pair of sheets and two Blankets which are at my Son Edwards and we make use of I Give them to him After our Decease

as for my son John I have formerly Given him his portion of land, and my will is that he Rest Sattisfied therewith, which was fourscore acres of upland and four acres of meadow Lying at Namatakeesit withn the Township of duxbury, this is the full of what I Intend him as to lands onely there are Severall moveables in his hand at present which are mine of which one Cowe a short gun a small Iron kettle I give unto my grandson Experience. And the Remainder I give unto my Son John=

as for my land Lying in the Town of Middlebury I Give it to my =Daughters Mary shaw Sarah Haward and Hannah Haward and to my grandson Experience Mitchell the son of my Son John to be Equally Divided between them.

farther I Give to my Daughter mary Shaw twenty shillings

to hannah Haward forty shillings in Currant pay

and if my Stock Stand I Give to my grandson Thomas Mitchell one Cowe

and to my grandDaughter Mary Mitchell one Cowe,

I leave and Dispose of my grand Daughter Mary Mitchell with my Son Edward and Joseph Bartlett

as for the Rest of my moveables and Chattels I bequeath them to my son Edward Mitchell whome I appoint and ordaine Sole Executor of this my last will and Testament Revoaking all other wills and Testaments Whatsoever

Witness my hand and Seal this fith of december 1689          Experience Michell (S)

Signed and Sealed in the
Presence of
Thomas Haward
John Haward

His inventory included
vessels of Iron, wood and earth, and pewter
2 Chests and one Box with Severall tooles
Bedding and Sheets
2 Cows and 1 mare
another cow, short gun, and small Iron kettle in the hands of "my Brother John" [the term brother is being used by John Haward and Lt. Thomas Haward who took the inventory, 14 May 1689 or by Edward Mitchel who swore to it's accuracy, 4 Sep 1689].9

Family 1

Jane Cooke b. abt. 1604, d. abt. 1632
  • Elizabeth Mitchell+1 b. 1629, d. bt 1682 - 1684
  • Thomas Mitchell1 b. 1631, d. bef. May 1687
  • Mary Mitchell10 b. abt. 1632

Family 2

Mary (…)
  • Sarah Mitchell10 b. abt. 1641, d. aft. 1731
  • Jacob Mitchell10 b. abt. 1643, d. Jun 1675
  • Edward Mitchell10 b. abt. 1645, d. 15 Mar 1716/17
  • John Mitchell10 b. say 1650, d. 14 Oct 1719
  • Hannah Mitchell10 b. say 1662
This person was last edited on2 Jan 2021


  1. [S40] Ralph V. Wood Jr., Francis Cooke of the Mayflower: The First Five Generations, Revised edition edition (Rockport, Maine: Picton Press, 1999), further cited as Wood, MF 12.
  2. [S44] Lora Altine Woodbury Underhill, Descendants of Edward Small and the Allied Families, With Tracings of English Ancestry (3 vols., Revised ed., Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 1934), 518, further cited as Underhill, Descendants of Edward Small.
  3. [S676] Robert Charles Anderson, The Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony: 1620-1633 (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004), 326, further cited as Anderson, The Pilgrim Migration.
  4. [S100] John Brooks Threlfall, "Comments on the Two Wives of Experience Mitchell of Plymouth, Mass.," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 127 (Apr 1973): 94-95, further cited as Threlfall, "Two Wives of Experience Mitchell."
  5. [S1872] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), 1045, further cited as Torrey, New England Marriages (2011).
  6. [S44] Underhill, Descendants of Edward Small, 509-518.
  7. [S676] Anderson, The Pilgrim Migration, 324-329.
  8. [S1896] George Ernest Bowman, "A Deed from Experience Mitchell to Edward Forbes With the Autographs of John Alden, Jonathan Alden and John Soule," Mayflower Descendant 7 (Jan 1905): 1-3, further cited as Bowman, "A Deed from Experience Mitchell to Edward Forbes."
  9. [S44] Underhill, Descendants of Edward Small, 518-520.
  10. [S317] Robert S. Wakefield, "Not All the Children of Experience Mitchell are Mayflower Descendants," The American Genealogist 59 (Jan 1983): 28-31, further cited as Wakefield, "Children of Experience Mitchell."