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Graves Family Association


For those of you descended from this Graves family, there is a possible huge breakthrough. This includes the families of William Graves of Drogheda, Co., Louth, Ireland (gen. 35), Humphrey Isaac Greaves of NC (gen. 50), Thomas Graves of New Castle Co., Delaware, Quaker (gen. 85), and Thomas J. Graves of OH & DE (gen. 472). I am proposing the possibility that the Quaker Graves Family of Northern Ireland and Delaware is descended from the MacGregor/Grierson family of Scotland.

In looking for the ancestry of someone descended from a Greeves family in England, I noticed that the earliest ancestor of that family in the English census records was from Ireland. When I looked at the Greeves family in Ireland, I discovered that they were originally from Scotland, with the earliest known ancestor born there in 1490. The family name in Scotland was originally Grierson (or perhaps MacGregor before that, as mentioned later in this article), but some of the family members changed the surname to Grier and Greer, and then some of those later changed the name to Greeves.

This name change reminded me of a similar occurrence about which I wrote a couple of articles. See Graves Family Bulletins 8-9 (Oct. 29, 2006, “Name Change from MacGregor to Grierson to Grieve to Greaves”) and 9-4 (April 4, 2007, “Follow-up to Name Change Article in Oct. 2006 Bulletin”. Those articles take the family back to the 1300’s, show that it started as MacGregor, and indicate that the change to Grieve was possibly caused at least partly when a Thomas Grierson and a Janet Grieve were married in the 1600’s and took the Grieve surname to inherit her estate. I think it is likely that the family discussed in the 2006-2007 articles and the Greeves family of Scotland and Ireland (genealogy 712) are the same, but, if so, I don't know what the connection is. Can anyone help?

I also noticed that the places in Ireland and some of the other surnames mentioned in the Grierson genealogy (gen. 712) were very similar to those associated with the Thomas Graves of Delaware family. For instance, both families lived in and around Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, and Ballyhagan, Co. Armagh, both in Ulster near the southern edge of Lough Neagh. Irish Quakers in Pennsylvania, by Albert Cooke Myers, page 365, states that “The will of Joseph Whitesett in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, Ireland, dated Jan. 7, 1732, mentions his relative Thomas Greaves, Jr., and suggests that the wife of Thomas Greaves may have been a Whitesett.” Genealogy 712 shows relationships between the families of Greer and Whitsitt. In Passengers and Ships Prior to 1684, Welcome Society: “It has been speculated that perhaps the widow, Jane Greave, who came to America on the ship Antilope in 1682 with her mother, Mary Milcon, may have been a sister-in-law of Thomas Greave. She was from the Quaker meeting at Killmore Parish, Ballyhagan, Ireland. She married 6 mo 8th 1685 Maurice Liston.” In The History of Ballyhagan and Richhill Meetings, second edition published in 2005, among the list of those who emigrated, is Ann Millcurn (Malcum or Milcome) certificate dated 1st month 31. 1682 with her daughter, Jane Greer, of Loughgall. Notice some of the spelling variations, including the use of Greer instead of Greave.

Both families belonged to the Society of Friends (Quakers). Also, the Quaker Graves family of Northern Ireland just seemed to appear from nowhere, with no trace so far found of them in England, and their DNA haplogroup (I1) is more typical of Scotland than England. I thought, could it be that the Graves family of gen. 85 is the same as the Greeves family of Ireland?

I found that there is a Y-DNA project at Family Tree DNA for the Greer. Grier, Grierson surname. One group that they tested (their group 4) is a 21 of 25 match with our genealogy 85, not as close as I had hoped, but still a possibility. Perhaps there will be other results from their study that will be even closer.

When I checked the Y-DNA matches of men in this group (gen. 85, 35, etc.) against the entire database, I did not find any matches with MacGregor, Grierson,Greer, or Grier. That may be because the connection is too far back or because the criteria for matching is too strict, or it could indicate that the direct male ancestral line is not as suggested above.

More research is needed.