The Mitchell Family | William Henry Ernest Mitchell (1875 – )
Ernest Mitchell was born on July 20 1875 and was the youngest surviving child of David and Isabella Mitchell. Of all the siblings, Ernest was the only one to show any singing talent like Melba who encouraged him in his endeavours.
As early as April 1894, the Lilydale Express carried a report form the Sydney Bulletin stating that Ernest Mitchell had a decided talent for music and was presently studying theory with a view to appearing as a baritone singer. (1)
Ernest appeared on the program of some of the concerts Melba gave in Australia during World War I. He sang at the concert held at Healesville on November 27, 1914 which raised £150. (2)
“Ernest was the gentle one of the family, musical and thoughtful. He had a fine singing voice and when he and Dora visited Melba in 1896 she arranged for him to study music in Paris.” (3)
There was also an adventurous side to him as on February 14, 1901 Ernest was one of 200 men who enrolled in the Marquis of Tullibardine’s Scottish Horse to fight in South Africa.
He was required to sign a waiver that neither he nor his family had any right to compensation from the Victorian Government resulting from their service in South Africa. (4)
Ernest married late in life and had two daughters – Mrs Anne Grice of Benalla and Mrs Dianne Letts who became a director of David Mitchell Ltd. (5)
In the 1930s Ernest and his family built a home in Dorset Rd, Croydon which was featured in an extensive article in Australian Home Beautiful on November 1, 1935. The home by Ringwood architect Arthur Petty was modelled on the traditional Norman farmhouse.
1. Lilydale Express April 20, 1894.
2. Melba: Lilydale’s Queen of Song
3. Melba: A Family Memoir p96.
4. National Archives of Australia.
5. A Child of Cave Hill p27.