Andrew Mitchell - British Ambassador to Prussia

Portrait of Sir Andrew Mitchell by Allan Ramsay

Andrew Mitchell

Born 1708
Died 1771

Biography: 

Son of William Mitchell and Margaret Cunningham. Married to Barbara Mitchell (d. 1728).

Under Secretary of State for Scotland (1742-1746). Member of Parliament for Aberdeen (1747-1753) and for Elgin Boroughs (1754-1771). From 1756 until his death he was British envoy to King Frederick II the Great of Prussia. His estate in Scotland was Thainston House, which he had inherited from his father-in-law Thomas Mitchell.

Mitchell is somewhere described as "the noteworthy, not yet much noted, Sir Andrew Mitchell, by far the best Excellency England ever had in that Court [the court of Frederick the Great]; an Aberdeen Scotsman, creditable to his country, hardheaded, sagacious, sceptical of shows, but capable of recognising substances withal, and of standing loyal to them stubbornly if needful;"1

The poet James Thomson (1700-1748) was one of Mitchell's close friends, and Mitchell even served as co-executor of Thomson's estate forllowing his death in 1748.2

  • 1.  http://www.electricscotland.com/history/france/vol2-3c.htm 
  • 2. James Thomson (1700-1748) was a Scottish born poet of some fame. His best known works are the poetry collection The Seasons (1730), the individual poems Liberty (1736) and The Castle of Indolence (1747 or 1748), and the masque Alfred (1740), which was written in collaboration with David Mallet.

Life with Boswell: 

Boswell first met Mitchell when he waited for him in Berlin on July 8, 1764. He described him as a very polite "knowing, amiable, easy man". A few days later, on July 14, Boswell dined with Mitchell and they met several times over the next few months.

On July 24 they had a "most agreeable conversation" about morality, and about the poet James Thomson, whose friend Mitchell had been in London. According to Boswell's journal, Mitchell said of Thomson that "[he] had more Genius than knowledge, that notwithstanding of his fine imitation of Ovid on the Pythagoraean system, he was an egregious gormandiser of Beefsteaks."

From a letter Boswell sent to Mitchell on August 28, 1764, it is clear that Mitchell was a friend (or at least a close acquaintance) of Boswell's father. Boswell used the letter to tell Mitchell about his wish to stay in Europe for another year, and to visit Rousseau and Voltaire, hoping that Mitchell would present the ideas favourably to Lord Auchinleck.

Literature: 

In 1850 was published Memoirs and Papers of Sir Andrew Mitchell.