Your Honor, Ladies and Gentlemen
I esteem it a great pleasure and privilege, sir, to present for preservation in this room, where justice is so worthily dispensed by your Honor, the portrait of my grandfather, who, in days long gone, sat in the old courthouse adjoining as a member of that magistrates' court, which reflected the hard common sense of the Virginia
country farmer, and did equity between man and man with such sound judgment that it has been esteemed by those competent to judge the best system of county judiciary that the State
It is now more than half a century since he has lain in the grave, but there are some still living in this county, and perhaps within the sound of my voice, who may remember him—a tall, erect, dignified man—as he went in and out among you during the seventy-three years of his long life, for where he lived there he died and is buried, at Elmwood
on the Rappahannock
, never residing away from home except when he was serving the county or the State
Permit me then, sir, to read a brief sketch of the life of him whose portrait I entrust to your Honor's keeping.
The Hon. James Mercer Garnett
, of Elmwood, Essex county, Va.
, was born June 8th, 1770, the second child and oldest son of ten children.
His father, Muscoe Garnett
, of Essex county
, was the son of James Garnett
and Elizabeth Muscoe
, his second wife, the daughter of Captain Salvator Muscoe
, and was the only child of that marriage.
He was the grandson of John Garnett
, of Gloucester county
, supposed to be first of the family that came from England
to this country, although this is not certain, as the family records do not trace his ancestry further back.
, as his father before him, was a large landed proprietor, and built Elmwood
before the Revolutionary War
. During that war he was a member of the Committee of Safety for Essex County
, which regulated the military affairs of the county.
He, his father, and his son were vestrymen of Vawter's church, built in 1731.
He married on July 19, 1767, Grace Fenton Mercer
, daughter of John Mercer
, of Marlborough
, Stafford county
, and his second wife Ann Roy
. This John Mercer
was born in Dublin, Ireland
, in 1704, descended from an English family that had settled in Dublin
, and was the first of that family who came to this country.
His ancestry is traced back through his father, John Mercer
, and mother, Grace Fenton
and his grandfather, Robert Mercer
, to his great-grandfather, Noel Mercer
, of Chester, England
, of Marlborough