Rev. Richard Henry Barnes Mitchell

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The full-length carte de visite portrait of  Protestant Episcopal minister Rev. Richard Henry Barnes Mitchell (1803-1869) was taken at the studio of Palmer Lenfield Perkins (1824-1900), 207 Baltimore Street.

Mitchell was born in Kent County, on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, son of Capt. John Mitchell, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, and Catharine Barnes Mitchell.

References to Rev. Mitchell in records of the Protestant Episcopal Church indicate that in his early years as a minister, he served a parish in Virginia, and William and Mary (Ridge) Parish in St. Marys County, Maryland. He spent many years as the rector of Christ Church in Bordentown, New Jersey. At the time of his death, he was rector at Trinity Church, Elkton, Maryland.

Sources are contradictory regarding the number of Mitchell’s marriages. I’ve found three wives, and this agrees with some genealogical sources, but there is a fourth listed  on the back of one of the cartes de visite pictured above.

His will, posted on by a family researcher, mentions a fourth wife, Margaret S., and this must be the “Miss Wirt of Elkton Md.” mentioned on the back of the carte de visite.

He had eight children with his first wife, Lucinda Compton, and three more sons with his second wife, Susan Binney.  Among his sons, Walter Alexander Mitchell and Whittingham Doane Mitchell both became Episcopal ministers; Andrew R. Mitchell became a physician and settled in Wilmington, Delaware.

So far, I have only located the graves of Rev. Walter A. Mitchell and his wife, Susan Thomas Mitchell, are buried in the cemetery of All Faith Episcopal Church, Mechanicsville, St. Mary’s County, Md.

And now, to the photographer, Palmer Lenfield Perkins. Like Rev. Mitchell, Perkins was of the Methodist Episcopal persuasion. Perkins was born in Beverly, Burlington Co., New Jersey. Originally he studied for the ministry at Prnceton University, but left without taking a degree. In 1850, he opened a daguerreotype gallery at North and Baltimore and pursued the photography business at various locations on Baltimore Street until his retirement sometime between 1880 and 1890.

After his death, his son, Harry Lenfield Perkins, carried on the business into the early 1900s.

Perkins had, as the Sun put it, “at an early age, manifested a fondness for military organization.” “Colonel” Perkins, as he styled himself, helped organize the Fourth Regiment of the Maryland National Guard, one of the two regiments that participated in the infamous acts of violence against striking B & O railroad workers in 1877.

Perkins ran unsuccessfully  for Congress as a Prohibition Party candidate in 1890.

He was an active member of Ascension M. E. Church in Baltimore. You can see the church as it appeared in the early 1870s in a Chase stereoview .


  1. I am a researcher for the David Davis mansion IL state historic site in Bloomington IL.
    Just to underscore the previous information regarding Margaret Savin Biddle Mercer Wirt Mitchell (1818-1886/96). Her 3 husbands were:
    William Davis Mercer (maternal uncle of David Davis) 1794-1844, by whom she had 2 daughters who died in childhood;
    John Wesley Wirt 1809-1855, m. 1848, by whom she had 3 sons, William Bayard, John Sluyter and Henry Biddle;
    and finally Rev. Mitchell, m. after 1855, no children that I know of.
    She was 3 years Judge Davis’ junior and maintained a correspondence with him for years and visited him in Illinois fairly frequently. I have kiddingly called her a “serial marry-er” over the years but, seeing this, apparently she met her match in the good Reverend! From the correspondence that I have read, she appears to have been happy in all of her marriages.
    Thanks for this great biography and the photo!

    1. waldonia says:

      Wow! She did, indeed! Thanks so much for the information, Patricia.

  2. Sarah Fitzgerald says:

    If you send your e-mail address I can give you much more information. Most important, Richard Henry Barnes Micthell was not Methodist. He was an Episcopal Priest. He is in our vestry records at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Valley Lee, MD and we also have a privately printed “A family Log” on the Michell family

    1. waldonia says:

      Thanks for reading and for the comments! I would definitely like to know more about Rev. Barnes and family. Thanks for the correction–I should have said “Protestant Episcopal.” Rev. Barnes is called “Protestant Epsicopal” in old accounts and records, such as “Old Kent: The Eastern Shore of Maryland,” and in census records. I definitely agree that the churches he served ended up congregating with the Episcopal Church.

  3. rd hughes says:

    I’ve noted your RHB Mitchell page. FYI, his 4th spouse was Margaret Savin (Biddle Mercer) Wirt (1818-96).

    Margaret was in-law related to Circuit Judge/USSC Justice/US Sen. David Davis (1815-86), of Bloomington, Illinois, who was integral to putting Abraham Lincoln in the White House.

    Judge Davis also was a first-cousin of David Davis Walker, who was a gr-gr-etc-grand. of the Presidents Bush.

    1. waldonia says:

      Thank you so much for the additional information about RHB Mitchell’s fourth wife–fascinating!

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