The Family Man

Doonside, the Mitchell family home in Richmond

A year later, on June 11, 1857 he married Isabella Anne Dow and they moved into Doonside, the home he had built for his family at 61 Burnley Street, Richmond.

The marriage certificate of David Mitchell and Isabella Dow

They had 10 children in the next 16 years. Their first child Margaret Walker was born on March 28, 1858 and died on March 24, 1859. Their second child, William James was born on July 29, 1859 and died on June 29 1860.

Their other children were:

  • Helen Porter who later became Dame Nellie Melba, was born on May 19, 1861.
  • Ann Fraser born November 6, 1863;
  • Isabella September 4, 1866.
  • Francis David born January 18, 1869.
  • Charles John born March 19, 1871.
  • Dora Elizabeth Octavia born May 20, 1873;
  • William Henry Ernest born July 20 1875; and
  • Florence Maude Vere born August 8, 1877 and died January 20, 1882.


    David Mitchell



    Isabella Dow



    While Isabella cared for their growing family, David was busy tendering for building projects in a bustling, gold rich Melbourne and developing his own interests.

    These included supervising building projects and manufacturing bricks at his brickworks at Burnley Street; the purchasing of grazing land east of Lilydale in the distant Yarra Valley; purchasing and developing the Cave Hill Marble and Limestone Quarries; and becoming a councillor on the Lillydale Shire Council.

    See the history of Cave Hill:

  • Cave Hill Quarry

    However, his blissful family life was soon to be disrupted. Isabella became ill and sadly on October 21, 1881, she passed away aged just 48 years.

    The family was still recovering from her death when barely three months later, David’s youngest child Vere aged just over four, died on January 20, 1882. The family was devastated, particularly David Mitchell.

    Deciding a change of scenery was needed, he had invested in a sugar mill at Port Mackay Queensland and was needed to go north to organise the new buildings. Accompanying him were his two eldest daughters Nellie and Annie.

    While at Mackay daughter Nellie fell in love with Charles Armstrong and despite his concern, David Mitchell consented to their marriage.

    For the story about Nellie and Charles Armstrong go to Biography:

  • Biography

    David and Annie returned to Melbourne and life returned to some normality.

    In 1886 David Mitchell had the chance to return to Scotland when he was appointed Commissioner for Australia to the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London.

    The family - David, Annie and Bella - with Nellie, Charles and their baby George Armstrong sailed from Melbourne in the Bengal and berthed at Tilbury London on May 1.

    After carrying out his duties, David and Annie and Bella returned to Australia leaving Nellie, Charles and George.

    Back in Australia, David Mitchell continued his busy schedule, overseeing the erection of new building projects.

    For information on David Mitchell's building projects go to The Builder:

  • The Builder

    See also the Dow Family:

  • The Dow Family