Mitchel, William (DNB00)
|←Mitchel, Jonathan|| Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 38
MITCHEL, WILLIAM (1672-1740?), pamphleteer, known as the ‘Tinklarian Doctor,’ seems to have gone to Edinburgh about 1696 to earn a poor livelihood as a tinsmith at the head of the West-Bow. For twelve years he superintended the lighting of the town-lamps. A disastrous fire at the Bowhead (1706?), by which he lost thirteen hundred merks, and his dismissal from his post in 1707 reduced him to penury. He continued his tinkering, but found time to issue a large number of ‘books,’ or rather broad-sheets, which he sold at his shop ‘at very reasonable rates.’ In 1712 he was restored to his former post. He survived the Porteous riots (about which he is stated to have written a pamphlet) in 1736. Chambers states that he died in 1740.
His tracts deal chiefly with religion and church politics, and especially with the shortcomings of the professional ministry. ‘Give the clergy,’ says his petition to Queen Anne, ‘less wages, and lay more dutie upon gouf [golf] clubs, and then fewer of them and others would go to the gouf.’ His claim was ‘to give light,’ a metaphor which he proudly borrowed from his experience in lamps. His writings are extremely illiterate, and show, even in their titles, the audacity and incoherence of a madman. They are badly printed on shabby paper, most of them on single sheets. The following are known: 1. ‘Dr. Mitchel 's Strange and Wonderful Discourse concerning the Witches and Warlocks in West Calder.’ 2. ‘The Tinklar's Testament’ (in several parts, including ‘The Tincklar's Reformation Sermon’ and a ‘Speech in commendation of the Scriptures’), 1711. 3. Petitions to Queen Anne (ten in number), 1711, &c. 4. ‘The Advantagious Way of Gaming, or Game to be rich. In a letter to Collonel Charters,’ 1711(?). 5. ‘The Tinklar's Speech to … the laird of Carnwath,’ 1712. 6. ‘The Great Tincklarian Doctor Mitchel his fearful book, to the condemnation of all swearers. Dedicated to the Devil's captains,’ 1712. 7. ‘Speech concerning Lawful and Unlawful Oaths,’ 1712. 8. ‘Proposals for the better reformation of Edinburgh.’ 9. ‘The Tinclarian Doctor Mitchel's description of the Divisions of the Church of Scotland.’ 10. ‘A new and wonderful Way of electing Magistrates.’ 11. ‘A Seasonable Warning to beware of the Lutherians, writen by the Tinclarian Doctor,’ 1713. 12. ‘Great News ! Strange Alteration concerning the Tinckler, who wrote his Testament long before his Death, and no Man knows his Heir.’ 13. ‘The Tinclarian Doctor Mitchel's Letter to the King of France,’ 1713(?). 14. ‘Letter to the Pope.’ 15. ‘The Tinclarian Doctor Mitchel's Letter to Her Majesty Queen Ann’—‘to make me your Majesty's Advocat.’ 16. ‘The Tinclarian Doctor Mitchel's Lamentation, dedicated to James Stewart, one of the Royal Family.’ 17. Letter to George I. 18. ‘Inward and Outward Light to be Sold,’ 1731. 19. ‘Second Day's Journey of the Tinclarian Doctor,’ 1733. 20. ‘Short History to the Commendation of the Royal Archers,’ &c., with ‘One Man's Meat is another Man's Poison’ (in verse), 1734. 21. ‘The Voice of the Tinklarian Doctor's last Trumpet, sounding for the Downfall of Babylon, and his last Arrow shot at her,’ 1737. 22. ‘Prophecy of an Old Prophet concerning Kings, and Judges, and Rulers, and of the Magistrates of Edinburgh, and also of the Downfall of Babylon, which is Locusts, who is King of the Bottomless Pit. Dedicated to all Members of Parliament,’ 1737. 23. ‘Revelation of the Voice of the Fifth Angel's Trumpet,’ 1737. 24. ‘The Tinklarian Doctor's Four Catechisms,’ published separately 1736-7-8. 25. ‘Tinklarian Doctor's Dream concerning those Locusts, who hath come out of the Smoke of the Pit and hath Power to hurt all Nations,’ 1739. A number of these broadsheets are found bound together with the following title: ‘The whole Works of that Eminent Divine and Historian Doctor William Mitchel, Professor of Tincklarianism in the University of the Bow-head; being Essays of Divinity, Humanity, History, and Philosophy; composed at various occasions for his own satisfaction, Reader's Edification, and the World's Illumination.’ In one of his publications of 1713 Mitchel incidentally remarks that he had then issued twenty-one ‘books.’[Tracts (a) in the Advocates' Library, (b) in the possession of William Cowan, esq., Edinburgh; Chambers's Domestic Annals, iii. 361, and Traditions of Edinburgh, pp. 53-5; Irving's Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen; Maidment's Pasquils, p. 74.]