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Graves Family Association


In addition to the information on this page, most of the other pages on this site relating to this DNA study can be accessed from the DNA drop-down tab at the top of every page. The pertinent pages are:

  • The Y-DNA test results provides information and links for Y-DNA test results on both this site and on the Family Tree DNA website.
  • The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test results, although presently few in number, may develop into an important addition to the overall study.
  • Autosomal DNA test results, including charts and significant matching chromosome segments.
  • Chart presentations of definite and possible ancestral connections, based on test results to date. This page also shows which families are participating in the DNA study, and has links to the genealogies of all listed families.
  • Haplogroup chart, showing the general relationship between the various Graves, Greaves, etc. families. More recent relationships are shown on the Charts page.
  • Connections with other surnames. This includes a summary of some of the DNA test results on other surnames that match the results for some of the Graves/Greaves samples. It will also eventually include some discussion of haplogroups, possible pre-surname ancestry, and geographical origins
  • Success Stories of individuals and families whose ancestry and connections has been determined as a result of this study
  • DNA Testing Sponsorship Fund. This discusses the need to sponsor Graves/Greaves descendants whose DNA test results are very important for other family members, and provides a summary of the status of the fund


To participate in the Graves/Greaves DNA study, visit the Graves Surname Project page on the Family Tree DNA site. That will allow you to fill out a Graves Project Join Request. This study includes both Y-DNA and autosomal DNA, with mtDNA used only as applicable in special instances. Note that we recommend a minimum of 37 markers for the Y-DNA test, and 67 or 111 markers is even better. We need to have whatever you know about your Graves/Greaves ancestry to be of most help. Also, note that the person being tested must be a male with the Graves (or spelling variation) surname. If you have questions, contact Ken Graves.

If you are already in the DNA study and want to upgrade your Y-DNA test to 37 markers (which we recommend as a minimum), go to the Family Tree DNA website at http://www.familytreedna.com, sign into your personal webpage, and click on the link for "Order Tests". If you need help with this procedure, contact Ken Graves.

Starting in March 2007 we expanded our DNA study. Mainly, we started trying to chart and trace female lines of descent from some of the major families such as Capt. Thomas Graves of VA. We will be using mitochondrial DNA testing to verify these lines and try to use them to learn more about our ancestry. In addition, as advances in DNA testing are made, we will use the new knowledge and techniques to further our study.

Autosomal DNA

Autosomal DNA has allowed everyone with Graves/Greaves ancestry to participate, women as well as men, and people descended from an ancestral line containing both men and women. We encourage everyone to take an autosomal DNA test, and to make the results available, either at Family Tree DNA or elsewhere for comparison and analysis.

The Graves Family Association has gathered information and compiled genealogies on hundreds of major families and segments of families with the Graves, Greaves, Grave, Grieve (and other spelling variations) surname. It is believed that most or all of the segments of families are descended from one of the major families. It is further believed that all the families originating in the British Isles are descended from only a few original men in a small area of England, that the Graves families of Germany are probably not related to those of England, and that the Graves families of France and elsewhere may be related to those of England.

Although more documentary evidence remains to be found, traditional genealogical research will never find all the connections between the various Graves family groups. In addition, there are undoubtedly links that have been made that are not correct. In the U.S., for instance, it is sometimes not possible to be sure whether a family group is of English or German origin. The availability of Y chromosome analysis now provides a new way to determine direct male to male lineage, and this is the basis of this project.

There are three types of DNA tests now available for genealogical testing: the Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) test, the mitochondrial (mtDNA) test, and the autosomal (atDNA) test. A direct female line can be traced by testing mitochondrial DNA. However, since we are presently interested in tracing surnames, which are usually passed from father to son, the testing of the Y-chromosome DNA has been of greatest interest. The portion of the Y-chromosome that is tested for genealogical purposes is passed through the direct male line (from father to son) unchanged (other than having an occasional mutation). Fortunately, autosomal DNA testing (by both men and women) can now provide great help in tracing surname ancestry

Background of Genetic Genealogy

Human sperm and egg cells contain 23 chromosomes. The 23rd chromosome is the one that determines the sex of the child. Males have both an X and a Y 23rd chromosome, but females have two X's and no Y's. The human egg becomes a female embryo if the male sperm carries an X-chromosome and a male embryo when the sperm has a Y-chromosome. Thus the Y-chromosome is passed down from generation to generation only through the male line.

There have been a number of recent reports in the media about Y-chromosome studies to trace surname ancestry through the male line and determine relationships. These include the question of whether Thomas Jefferson fathered any children by slave Sally Hemmings, and the relationship of Jewish men supposedly descended from Aaron (kohanim). The results of these and other studies have been very helpful in determining relationships that can not be proven by any other method. The same procedures can now by applied to the Graves Surname Project.

The Plan

The Graves Surname DNA Project was started in July 2001. The plan is to use DNA testing to find the connections and ancestries of the many families involved. This initially involved performing Y chromosome DNA tests on a sampling of men with the Graves surname (including all variant spellings). Each participant received a report of his own results from the testing laboratory, and a summary (without identification of specific individuals) was posted on this website.

Men from all of the various name spellings are encouraged to participate. Each male participant will provide a mouth swab sample to be analyzed by the testing laboratory (Family Tree DNA). This sampling technique is painless and only involves the use of a swab to collect a small amount of cells from the inside of a person's cheek. The participant administers the test in the privacy of his own home.

The test kit and instructions will be sent by Family Tree DNA to each participant. All participants will then return samples, payment (if not prepaid), and a release form (to allow the DNA results of each person to be matched against other results in the FTDNA database, possibly resulting in more matches in the future).


Cost of testing can be significant. One way to lower the cost of this test is for a number of people from the same part of the family (both men and women) to pool their money and pay for one representative male to participate on behalf of all of them. For example, if the test costs about $160 and 4 people share the cost, that is only $40 per person. Other options include encouraging people to contribute to the overall Graves Family Association DNA project (it continues to be in debt and in need of financial support), organizing a fund raiser for testing your part of the family, etc.


Confidentiality is an important part of this study. Only the person providing a DNA sample will know what his results are (unless they decide they would like to share that information). An attempt has been made to avoid testing any part of the genome that contributes to physical and medical characteristics, but that is not completely possible. All samples are assigned an identifying number. This ID number will be the only identifying information anyone else sees, so no one other than the coordinator and the testing laboratory will know who participates in the study or which result is from which person. The portion of the DNA tested gives a distinctive "signature" for a lineage rather than for an individual, so there is no risk of this data being of any use to anyone for personal identity.

To Participate

If you are descended from an ancestor with the Graves, Greaves (or alternate spelling ) surname and would like to participate in this project, sign up for the test of interest on the Family Tree DNA website.

Future Plans

This study is ongoing. We are continuing to accept participants, and are especially looking for members of family groups not already included.

In the more distant future, testing will become even more sophisticated and we expect to be able to learn even more about the connections between the various Graves/Greaves/Grave families.


The Y-DNA test results are reported on the test results page on the Family Tree DNA website. The families that are represented, and others that we would like to see included, are listed on the Charts page, which also has links to the charts and genealogies of the various families.

Mitochondrial and autosomal DNA test results can be seen by putting your cursor over the DNA tab at the top of this page and clicking on the desired link. It is hoped that both of those studies will be greatly expanded in the future.

Links to Other Sites for More Information

Go to the page for links to find other sites with various types of helpful information.

DNA Surname Projects : Genetics for Genealogy. by pcramwinckel
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