Doodes Minor (c. 1641-1695)

Doodes Minor was born in Holland and was about nine years old when the family emigrated to Virginia, which puts his birth around 1641. Though nothing is known of his childhood, crossing the Atlantic at such a young age must have been both an exciting adventure and a terrifying ordeal for the boy.

As an adult, Doodes lived on the Rappahannock River in the county of Middlesex.[1] He and his wife, Elizabeth, had five or six children,[2] one of whom was a daughter. Doodes was a farmer who did much to advance his family from the status of immigrant merchants to the planter class or gentry of the South, who made most of their money through tobacco beginning in the mid-seventeenth century.[3]

Though it quickly destroyed the soil, by depleting its natural stores of nitrogen and potash,[4] tobacco was in many ways the perfect crop for the area, where land was readily available and labor was cheap. Tobacco “grew fast, could be packed and transported by water with relative ease, was nearly indestructible once cured, and—most importantly—was much in demand and could yield high profits.”[5] It enriched this generation and allowed them to use indentured servants in their fields,[6] thus making them some of the first in their families to be counted among the idle rich rather than the working class.

Doodes was also a member of the Middlesex County Colonial Militia,[7] with records confirming service at least in 1687.[8] The militia was established by the Crown in 1607 and service was required of all free males. These men were not a standing army, but rather were responsible for responding when an alarm was raised about an invasion of pirates or Indians and enforcing the laws of the colony. They held regular training sessions at the county courthouse, but during peacetime most members—Doodes likely included—were more concerned about their fields, especially during planting and harvest season, than they were about serving their country.[9]

            The exact date of Doodes’ death is unclear, but family tradition holds it occurred sometime in 1695. Being an immigrant, it is possible his funeral followed Danish customs like his father’s, or the family may have chosen a simple English burial to reflect the customs of his new home. If the latter, upon the tolling of a mourning bell, the friends and family followed the hearse, a simple framework used to support the coffin, which was covered with candles and verses in praise of the dead written by mourners. At the gravesite, a funeral sermon, once rejected as “popish,” but now back in favor, was said over the body and then the attendees stood silently as the grave was filled.[10]

Doodes willed his plantation to his wife until her death or remarriage, at which time it was to be divided among four of his sons. He also willed that his land in the upper part of Middlesex County be divided among them.[11]

[1] Minor, John, 3.

[2] It is possible that one child did not live to adulthood and therefore was not counted. Meriwether (p 127) says they had four sons, but the Minor family’s listing in Genealogies of Virginia Families (p 705) records five sons and a daughter.

[3] Tilson.

[4] Moore, John Hammond, 33.

[5] Moore, John Hammond, 33-34.

[6] Tilson.

[7] “Middlesex County Militia, 1687.”

[8] Crozier, 98.

[9] Breen 55-56

[10] Habenstein and Lamers, 123.

[11] “The Minor Family,” Genealogies of Virginia Families, 707.