E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
simply means a servant or minister. Minstrels were kept in the service of kings and princes for the entertainment of guests. James Beattie has a poem in Spenserian verse, called The Minstrel, divided into two books.
The last minstrel of the English stage. James Shirley, with whom the school of Shakespeare expired. (15941666.)