One of the more intriguing people in my research of William Longmire’s life and posterity is John Garrett. John lived in Caroline County just across the Rappahannock River from William. He was a Tobacco Inspector at Conway’s Warehouse at various times previous to William’s death in late 1748 and his son, Robert, was Inspector beginning in 1755 and thereafter. This was a prestigious position back in the day as Conway’s Warehouse was chartered by the Crown. And it just so happens that John Garrett was also the father in law of William’s son, George Longmire. The circumstances of how this marriage came to be are of much interest to me as it is quite the deviation of familial marriage patterns of the time and certainly a step up in class for the son of a convict. After all, John Garrett’s family was possibly related to ancestors of the Lord Mayor of London in the 1500’s, Sir William Garrett, son of John Garrett who died in 1555. Sir William was also a Charter member and early chairman of the first Virginia Company. Sir George Garrett, meanwhile, is also listed in the Records of the Virginia Company of London as receiving shares from the Earl of Southampton. No small company indeed …
John Garrett was born 1700 in New Kent County, Virginia. His parents, John and Frances (Buckner) Garrett were both of New Kent County. John’s wife is usually given as Martha Frances Scott d/o Col John Scott of New Kent Militia. However, in the absence of proof, and in the interests of fairness, I tend to give equal credence to Wanda Ware Degidio’s excellent research conclusions placing Frances Dudley as John’s wife. Interestingly, to show how far the Garrett roots stretched back with families of Virginia antiquity, note that two of John’s father’s brothers married Catletts and that John’s grandfather, John Garrett of Leicestershire, England, married Elizabeth Ware. The Catletts and Wares (and the Buckners) were esteemed early Virginia families and Elizabeth’s brother, Nicholas Ware, was part owner of a 1665 grant of land (386 acres) in New Kent County with John Garrett (of Leicestershire) for transporting 8 persons. The Wares would figure prominently in the families of John and Robert Garrett in Ninety-Six District of South Carolina where both moved circa 1772-73. George Longmire moved to the same locale probably about 1772. However, I am now considering the possibility that George may have stopped by and/or stayed for part of the year in Lunenburg County in the same area where his younger brother, Wm Longmire Jr bought land in 1774. More research needs to be done on this point but it is interesting that there were established Garrett and Goode families in that part of Virginia and oftentimes families would put down for a spell before completing a move so far away from their original lands. It remains to be discovered whether George and family made the trek south in one straight journey or stopped over with distant relations.
Over the 15 or so years that I have been researching the life and family of William Longmire two (of many) questions have always intrigued me: How did William Longmire’s son, George, marry into the Garrett family and what happened to William’s wife and children in the years after his death? And oftentimes I keep coming back to the possibility that John Garrett may be the key to at least part of this. One item, in the context of other mitigating circumstances, strikes me in particular: The prominent name of John given to the sons of William Longmire’s three sons. For example, and in the case of George, part of this is a result of the classic familial naming pattern of the day, the names of George’s children to wit:
William – for George’s own father
Frances – for his wife’s mother
John – for his wife’s father
Garrett – again for wife’s father
Susannah – for George’s own mother
So, in George’s case the children’s names seem to be explained quite easily. However, what to make of the fact that both Charles and William Longmire Jr named their first sons John? Both named other sons William afterwards. George, the eldest, having been born by 1737, if not earlier, would have been at least 11-12 years of age and presumably more in touch with his father, William, who died in late 1748 therefore naming his first born son William. We have no birthdates for Charles and William Jr and they could have been so young that their real father may have been seen as “John” rather than their biological father. Either way the fact remains that a man named John seems to have been positive enough of an impact on all three of William Longmire’s children where they all gave him a prominent position in their family naming hierarchy. Of course this focus on John Garrett is, in and of itself, speculation and further proof is wanting. There is another intriguing possibility to examine as pertains the name of John in this context and I would be remiss for not exploring this person further. And that fellow was John Wren, of whom more in a later post.
Whoever this John was I am sure he would be proud to know that all three of William Longmire’s grandchildren named John had interesting legal careers: George’s son, John of South Carolina, was not only a Justice of the Peace but a state legislator. Charles’s son, John of Buncombe County N.C., was High Sheriff of that county and Senator from 1812 – 1814, and in 1816. William Longmire Jr’s son, John of Granville County, N.C. was a Constable. And if one were to take for fact that Elizabeth Longmire of Lunenburg County, Va – who married John Cabaniss, a neighbor of William Longmire Jr – was an unknown daughter of the hat thief then we can toss her son, John, into the mix. For not only did he live near to, and was friends with, Abraham Lincoln, but young Abe even signed the Constable Bond as surety for John M. Cabaniss of Springfield, Illinois. John was later a hero of the Battle of New Orleans.