Garrett Minor (1679–1720)

Garrett Minor was the third son of Doodes and Elizabeth Minor, born April 13, 1679.[1] Very little is known of his life other than he served as Justice of Middlesex county[2] and was referred to as “mayor.”

According to tax records, he owned 225 acres in Middlesex, Virginia by 1704,[3] though the exact location is unknown. Garrett was the first Minor to supplement his tobacco income with work in the law, which was to become a sacred vocation in the Minor family.[4] But he was not always on the right side of the law; in 1704, he stood before a grand jury in Middlesex on the heinous charge of “bringing oysters ashore on the Sabbath Day.”[5]

Garrett married Diane Vivian on October 17, 1706, in Christ Church Parish in Middlesex. They had at least two children, a son named John, born June 29, 1707, and a daughter called Diana, born June 22, 1710.[6]

Garrett died on February 2, 1720, in Middlesex. By now the Minors probably identified more as English than Dutch and followed English funeral customs. These had grown in scope from their simple colonial roots into elaborate, public affairs, that often lasted for days to accommodate relatives who had traveled great distances.[7] Feasting and drinking, sometimes profusely, were all part of what was both a social and religious occasion.

It was a societal expectation that those who attended a funeral would receive small gifts or mementos commemorating the deceased. For the English and the Dutch, these usually included black gloves, handkerchiefs, scarves, or, in particularly Dutch tradition, “apostle spoons,”[8] also called monkey spoons.[9] These were silver spoons with round, deep bowls and handles engraved with the image of Jesus or one of the twelve Apostles.[10] The Dutch were also known for giving away rum and “dead cakes,” and were less likely to give away rings than the descendants of English settlers. [11]

Garrett, like many of his ancestors and descendants, is buried in Christ Church Cemetery in Middlesex.[12]

[1] Bruce, Philip, Tyler et al, 43.

[2] Tyler, V8, 197.

[3] “Virginia Quit Rent Rolls, 1704,” Virginia Tax Records, 542.

[4] Tilson.

[5] Meriwether, Minor, 127.

[6] “The Minor Family,” Genealogies of Virginia Families, 705, 708.

[7] Tate.

[8] Zlomke, 71.

[9] Withington. They were called this because some of the carved heads were crudely made, causing the apostle to more resemble a monkey than a person.

[10] “Apostle Spoons,” New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia.

[11] Withington.

[12] “The Minor Family,” Genealogies of Virginia Families, 705, 708.