His Name

Mattie was known by several variations of the name Matthew Mitchell. The Matthew being spelled by various sources as Matthew, Mathew, Mattie, Matty or Mathy and the surname as Mitchell, Mitchel and Michel.

No record of his birth or baptism have been found to date but a record of his marriage to Marie Anne Webb is recorded in the hand of a French priest at Sandy Point May 26, 1879. It shows him as "Matthieu Michel (Indien)".


The 1921 Newfoundland census shows his name as Matchew Mitchel. This was shortly before Mattie's death when he was quite ill so we don't know if the census taker spoke directly to Mattie. But it does appear that the name was given in French since the phonetic "Matchew" is how an anglophone ear would hear the French Mathieu and Mitchel is how it would hear Michel.

If as The Encyclopedia of Newfoundland states "Mitchell's ancestors likely came to Newfoundland from Cape Breton sometime around the mid - 1700's" then undoubtedly they had a French name which was the custom of the Mi'kmaq since their conversion to Roman Catholicism in the early 1600s by the French missionaries. So we can assume for the moment that his real name was Matthieu Michel.

This fact was known to at least one prominent Newfoundlander, Mr. J.P. Howley. An article by THOMSON, H.C., "Notes of a Journey through the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland" states that in 1904, Thomson and a friend on the advice of Mr. J.P. Howley hired "Matthieu Michel, a Mic-mac trapper, more generally called Mattie Mitchell...."

We will return to the name question later when we speculate if Michel was his real surname or only a middle name that became a surname when his family simplified and subsequently anglicized their French name.

Home Page