George was born on the 7th September 1842 in Dersingham. His parents were Edward Mitchell, born Elmham in 1817 and Susan or Susannah Martin, also born in 1817 in Pentney. George had four brothers, William born 1845, Frederick, 1848, Arthur 1850 and Edward born 1855. In the census return of 1861 Edward Senior, is recorded as a hurdle maker as are George, then 19, and William 16 while the three younger brothers are recorded as scholars. A hurdle is a temporary rectangular frame, strengthened with withes or wooden bars and used as a temporary fence. Sheep farming and the wool trade that resulted had brought great wealth to this area over centuries and it had increased even further particularly since the Acts of Enclosure. But even before these acts a great common was described in the Dersingham Snettisham area that supported over 30,000 sheep. So, hurdles would have been in constant demand by the sheep farmers everywhere.
George’s grandparents, Henry Spooner Mitchell, 78 and his wife Eleanor 83, were still living in the village at that time. Grandfather Henry is listed as Formerly Hurdle Maker. Eleanor sadly died the following year, but Henry survived her until his death in 1868. Living here at the same time was another Henry Mitchell aged 42 and his wife Susannah 37. Henry with his oldest sons James, 19 and Robert 14 carried on the Mitchell family tradition as hurdle makers. Making up the rest of the family were Ellen, 11, William 9 Henry 6, Susannah, 2 and grand-daughter Mary Ann just 9 months old. The village George was born into was described at the time as a large well-built village, sheltered on the North by rising and well cultivated fields and bounded on the South by a sandy heath and rabbit warren. A description still mostly recognisable today. However, then there were only 606 inhabitants and James Bellamy of Ingoldisthorpe Manor and Lord Cholmondeley of Houghton Hall were the principal landowners.