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Graves Family Association


Not only is Capt. Thomas Graves of VA the first settler with the Graves surname in America, but he is also believed to be the immigrant ancestor of many Graves descendants in America. Capt. Thomas Graves was probably born about 1580, in England or Ireland, and arrived in Jamestown, VA in 1608. He was recorded as from Dublin, Ireland, in 1608, but was perhaps originally from the vicinity of London, England. His wife is believed to have been Katherine Croshaw (or Crosher), possibly daughter or sister of Raleigh Croshaw.

From the will of William Crashawe, PCC 97 Hale, 1 Nov. 1621, proved 6 Oct. 1626, as published in Virginia Settlers and English Adventurers, by Currer-Briggs: "William Crashaw, Bachelor in Divinity, Preacher of God's Word first in Bridlington, then at Beverley in Yorkshire, afterwards at the Temple, since then Pastor of the Church of Agnes Burton in the Diocese of York, now pastor of that too great parish of Whitechapel in the suburbs of London... (indicates he is married, and then bequeaths books to many libraries in Cambridge, London, Ireland, and Yorkshire, etc.) ... To the parish church of Hausworth in Yorkshire where I was born ... To my brother Thomas all my civil law books he hath not and 20/- to bestow on a fair Bible for my sister his wife." The will goes on to list other relatives and also mentions Sir Edwyn Sandys and others involved with the Virginia Company of London. It is possible that this may refer to Thomas Graves married to William's sister Katherine Crashaw.

It is possible that Capt. Thomas Graves studied law and was a barrister. Note the bequeathing of law books "to my brother Thomas" in the will of William Crashawe. Articles about the Croshaw family in the Graves Family Newsletter (pages 52-54, 1995, and page 81, 1994) are pertinent. They state that Capt. Raleigh Croshaw arrived in Oct. 1608 in Jamestown, VA with Capt. Thomas Graves. One of his sons, Joseph Croshaw, was a barrister, believed to have been trained in England, and apparently his father, Capt. Raleigh Croshaw, also had been a barrister there before he emigrated. A search for a barrister named Thomas Graves in England might be helpful.

In spite of much research over many years, this family has been shown to be the most difficult of any major Graves family to accurately define. The amount of new information gathered from our DNA study has been of tremendous value in giving us a much better understanding of the structure of the family of Capt. Thomas Graves of VA than we could ever have gotten by traditional research alone. However, many of us have been surprised and puzzled by the discovery that the descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves are apparently actually descended from a total of 3 or 4 immigrant ancestors, not just one. (See the chart summary of this family, and especially the discussion of the rationale for the several groups and the chart.) One question that needs answering is how this can be. A second question is, assuming this is correct, which of the 3 or 4 immigrants was Capt. Thomas Graves. The four apparent lines are:
  1. Thomas1, John2, Ralph3, Ralph4
  2. Thomas1, John2, Thomas3, John4
  3. Thomas1, Thomas2, Thomas3, John4, John5
  4. Thomas1, Francis2
With the first 3 lines, the generations at the end (that is, the 4th generation for the first two and the 5th for the third) are the earliest ancestor in that line for whom the DNA result has been confirmed by finding at least two descendants for whom this is the common ancestor. For Francis Graves, we do not have even a solid common ancestor that far back (only back to generation 6).

Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th edition, 2005, does not seem to support the conclusion that there were 3 or 4 separate immigrant ancestors of the descendants traditionally attributed to Capt. Thomas Graves. Possible explanations for the surprising results from DNA testing and the lack of agreement with Adventurers of Purse and Person are: (1) male descendants of only one of the sons of Capt. Thomas Graves survived and had male children, (2) there were events such as adoptions or children fathered by non-Graves men, causing lines of descendants that didn't have the DNA of Capt. Thomas Graves, or (3) this book and previous researchers are wrong and have included people who are not really descendants. The first option is a definite possibility, but the second option is extremely unlikely. That is because 3 of the 4 lines exactly match known Graves lines. The likelihood of a Graves couple adopting an unrelated Graves child, or of a Graves man fathering a child by the wife of an unrelated Graves man, seems remote. Option 3 is at least part of the problem; even with the best research, when documentation is incomplete there is a tendency to rely on less rigorous proof.

(1) Of the four male genetic lines listed above, line 2 has been conclusively established as genealogy 270, and is not from Capt. Thomas Graves. It is descended from genealogy 47 It is no longer shown on the Y-DNA chart for genealogy 169.
(2) Line 3 may have been from Capt. Thomas Graves, possibly through a child of a female descendant, but is very unlikely to be descended from Capt. Thomas Graves through a direct male line. This is because the Y-DNA of descendants does not match that of any other known Graves family.
(3) Line 4 has seemed unlikely to be from Capt. Thomas Graves because it was discovered and documented later than the other lines, the documentation seems weaker than that of line 1, and there is evidence that the offspring of Capt. Thomas was a daughter named Frances rather than a son named Francis. It has therefore been believed that the male Francis Graves was a son of another Graves man, and he is now in genealogy 220.
(4) Line 1 is considered the most likely line of descent from Capt. Thomas Graves because it seems to have the strongest documentation. However, the records seem to show that Francis Graves of line 4 was living on the Eastern shore in close proximity to Capt. Thomas Graves and his daughters, so line 4 cannot be absolutely ruled out.

The ancestry of Capt. Thomas Graves has been given variously be different people. Some of the more common claims (none with credible evidence) are:

  1. According to Mr. Jefferson James Graves of Ross, California (in a paper dated 1938, filed as a transcript in the Filson Club, Louisville, KY), Capt. Thomas Graves was the second son of John Graves, Jr., Mayor of Hull (the commonly-used name for Kingston upon Hull), England in 1598, who was a son of John Graves, Lord Mayor of York, England in 1570. That John Graves was a son of Hugh Graves, son of Robert Graves of Cleckheaton. According to Jefferson J. Graves, the sons of John Graves, Jr. were Hugh, Thomas, Benjamin and John. This ancestral line is that of the Graves family of Yorkshire and Mickleton Manor (genealogy 68).
    Mr. Ken Smallbone of Basingstoke, Hants, England, a researcher I hired in 1996, conducted a search of wills at the Borthwick Institute, York. Among other documents, he found the wills of Hugh Graves of York (will proved 1589) and of John Graves of Kingston on Hull (will proved 1615), and an administration for the estate of Thomas Graves of Kingston on Hull (granted to his widow Margaret in 1627). The conclusion is that this cannot be Capt. Thomas Graves, since Thomas of Hull inherited considerable property in England, his wife was not named Katherine, and he had died by 1627 (rather than 1635-36 for Capt. Thomas Graves).
  2. According to various contributors to the LDS Ancestral File and elsewhere, his parents were Thomas Graves (b.c. 1556 of Lamborne, Berkshire, England) and Joan Blagrove (b.c. 1560, of Lamborne, daughter of Thomas Blagrove and Joan Bellame). Various spellings of the place have been used, and there is a Lambourn in Berkshire, west of London, between Reading and Swindon.
    I contacted all those who provided this ancestry, and was not able to obtain any substantiation from anyone. Mrs. Jean Wall did a limited search in Salt Lake City and was not able to either substantiate or disprove this ancestry. She did find a Blagrove genealogy book there. It showed a Thomas Blagrove and Joan Bellame with children John and Mary. No mention of a Thomas Graves marrying a Joan Blagrove was on the chart. However, John Blagrove was shown with wife Joane. According to James Lawler: "The will of Thomas Graves (wife Joan) (Blagrove from marriage license) with child son Thomas is extant." But this will has been neither found nor examined. I also hired genealogist Neil D. Thompson of Salt Lake City to investigate this possible ancestry; he was not able to find any substantiation.
  3. Another unsupported source gives his father as Capt. Henry Graves.
  4. Another unsupported source said he was descended from the Greaves family of Beeley, Derbyshire (genealogy 228).
  5. The Historic Jamestowne website at www.historicjamestowne/biographies/ gives a possible place and date of birth as Feb. 9, 1587 in Leeds, Yorkshire. There is a reference on the LDS website to this event on film 170475, with father as Edward Graves. No evidence is given to support this Thomas being the same person as the 1608 settler.


  • DNA tests are needed on other direct male lines from generations 2 and 3 of the first 3 lines. For Francis Graves, DNA tests are needed on other direct male lines to confirm that the Y-DNA test results for genealogy 220 are correct. To see which lines have already been tested and which lines need participating descendants, look at < a href="DNAchart169.pdf">the frequently updated chart for genealogy 169 or all the charts for Capt. Thomas Graves or the chart for Francis Graves (which has been separated from the Capt. Thomas Graves genealogy and charts).
  • The records should be searched to find the basis for the claim that Capt. Thomas Graves was a son of Thomas Graves and Joan Blagrove of Lamborne, Berkshire, England. Although research has already found there is no merit to this claim, it has been so widely disseminated that more evidence to support or disprove it needs to be provided.
  • Three of the four lines match families found in England. The first line matches with genealogies 168, 65, etc., and is known to have come from the area around Hertford, England. Line 2 matches with genealogy 47 from Northamptonshire. Line 4 (Francis Graves) matches with genealogies 28, 28A, 228, etc., from London, Derbyshire, etc. These families need to be researched in England, with the hope that the connection with America may be found by this research.
  • There are lines from Capt. Thomas Graves that have been shown by DNA analysis to be in the wrong place. These include: sample 1354, which belongs with Thomas2 and not Ralph3; sample 15646, which belongs with Francis (gen. 220) and not John2, Thomas3; and sample 3699, which belongs with John2, Thomas3. Research is needed to find the correct connection for these lines.
  • There are family groups that have been shown by DNA analysis to be descended from specific parts of the possible Capt. Thomas Graves family, but the exact connection has not yet been found. These include genealogies 172, 443, 741, 877, and 935, all related to the family from Whitfield, Northamptonshire. More information on this group of families is available. Research is needed to find the connections.
  • The descendants of Thomas2 Graves, son of Capt. Thomas Graves, are very incompletely known and proven, as shown on the complete chart of known male descendants. Traditional genealogical research needs to be done on this part of the family, followed by DNA testing of descendants to confirm the relationships.
  • We need to use mitochondrial DNA testing (mtDNA) where appropriate and autosomal DNA testing on both male and female descendants of genealogy 169 and genealogy 220 (Francis Graves) to more conclusively show their Graves ancestry. If we could find and test descendants of the daughters of Capt. Thomas Graves with autosomal DNA testing, that might provide the answer, since their status as daughters of Capt. Thomas Graves has not been challenged. Even though only a small percentage of those tested might have inherited enough of that DNA, such testing has been shown to work.
We need volunteers to organize and oversee this research. We also need money to hire people to do some of the research. With the clues we now have, I am confident that this effort will produce the results we want if we are willing to do what is required to make it happen. Let me know if you are willing to help, and (if possible) what kind of help you might be able and willing to do..