The Rugby History Society

Return to Articles



Frank Mitchell


He was born on 3rd August 1872 in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire . The son of Thomas Mitchell, a farmer of 220 acres at Low Grange Farm, Market Weighton, East Yorkshire, and Jane.


He was educated at St. Peter’s School, York and Caius College , Cambridge University where he gained rugby blues in 1893, 1894 and 1895. He also won blues in athletics and cricket.  He caused uproar whilst captaining Cambridge in the 1896 Varsity cricket match when he ordered a bowler to give away extras so that Oxford would not have to follow-on. His action led to the law being changed so that enforcing the follow-on became voluntary.

Cambridge XV 1895. (L-R) Back Row: F. Jacob, W.L. Bunting, S.J. Lawry, T.J. Thomas, O.G. Mackie, H.T. Wallis. Seated: R. Griffith, S.P. Bell, F. Mitchell (Captain), A.F. Todd, L.F. Giblin, W. Falcon. On Ground: W. Mortimer, E.A.A. Jones.

He played rugby for England six times. On 14th March 1896 he captained England in his last international against Scotland at Hampden Park , Glasgow . The England pack included five Yorkshiremen. This match featured four of the authors, as well as Mitchell there was Cattell for England and Fleming and MacGregor for Scotland . England lost 11-0 with Fleming scoring a try for Scotland . This was Englands fourth defeat by Scotland in a row

In 1898 he toured South Africa with Lord Hawke’s cricket team. After the Boer War he captained South African cricket teams to England in 1904 and 1912. He also played cricket for Yorkshire, Buckinghamshire and Transvaal .

He began the South African War as a private but was later promoted to lieutenant with the Yorkshire Dragoons, with whom he fought at Boshof and Schwartz Koffeefontein, winning the Queen’s Medal. He returned to England and played cricket for Yorkshire between 1894 and 1904. He returned to South Africa and worked as a secretary to Sir Abraham "Abe" Bailey, the South African diamond tycoon, politician, financier and cricketer, in 1905. From 1909 to 1914 he worked on the Stock Exchange at Johnanesburg. During World War he served with the West Riding F.F.A. being promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

He died on 11th October 1935 in Blackheath, London.



© Patrick Casey, 2010
For Permission to reproduce this article please CLICK HERE