In a 1936 article in the William & Mary Quarterly, Mrs. P. W. Hiden stated that the John Graves of Spotsylvania Co., VA who married Susanna Dicken was descended from Francis2 Graves, youngest son of Capt. Thomas Graves.  In the following article in 1959, Mr. Charles Hughes Hamlin explained why he did not agree with that conclusion.



By Charles Hughes Hamlin, 4604 Forest Hill Ave., Richmond, VA

From The Virginia Gazette, Friday, Aug. 28, 1959, page 22, and Friday, Sept. 4, 1959, page 10.


The Graves family of Virginia, descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves, emigrant to Virginia in 1608, have one of the longest, if not the longest, proven pedigrees of any family in America from the standpoint of having an ancestor who arrived in virginia just a few months after the establishment of the first English settlement at Jamestown in 1607.  Indeed, Capt. Thomas [Graves], in his “Muster” stated he arrived in 1607 but he was probably using the old style calendar.  At any rate, his descendants (thousands) have the honor and distinction of being continual residents of this continent for at least 351 years out of the 352 years of its existence.

There are a great many accounts of this famous Virginia family written by many able genealogists and family historians.  Notable among these are the ones written by William Montgomery Sweeny and Mrs. P. W. Hiden, and they will be found in great detail in William and Mary Quarterly, Tyler’s Quarterly, Adventures of Purse and Person, and Whitelaw’s Eastern Shore.  (Check Swem’s index.)

In studying these articles it is the opinion of this writer that the first three generations, as given therein, are very ably and amply proven.  In most cases, the fourth and succeeding generations are also proved in a very satisfactory manner.

MANY INCONSISTENCIES ON THE GRAVES FAMILY.  However, in ‘working’ on the Graves family for a ‘client’, this writer discovered so many inconsistencies, discrepancies and contradictions in the accounts of the John Graves Family of Spotsylvania that it has seemed necessary to discard all extant accounts and to start entirely afresh and anew.  This statement will no doubt cause much controversy out of which it is hoped will come much new information.

After ‘charting’ all the various accounts and the solutions alleged therein, noting the differences, and then after much ‘digging’ into original source records, I believe that I can state that the main trouble seems to be in ascribing all the records of this particular time, locale, and period to two admitted ‘John Graves.’  My researchers lead me to believe that there must have been at least four ‘John Graves’ involved and if you consider their sons and nephews, six or eight.

SEGREGATE RECORDS.  In a situation such as this it seems to me that the only thing that can be done is to segregate all the various records available by years, counties, descriptions, parties involved, even witnesses, although all these records seemingly pertain to ‘John Graves’.  Then possibly by inspired interpretation but certainly by a process of elimination and deduction reasoning we may hope to at last prove one line even if it means disproving another.  There is no truer saying than ‘eventually truth will out’.

Once you accept the premise that between the years 1729 and 1748 there were two John Graves, Juniors, both of them sons of John Graves, Seniors and both of them with sons named John, the figures of this jig-saw puzzle will begin to fit very neatly and snugly.

In the various accounts heretofore given it was admitted that there were two John Graves, but it was assumed that one was the son of the other and that the son died before the father.  Naturally, it traces both of these individuals back through the same chain of generations to the original Captain Thomas Graves.  It is my purpose to show that these two John Graves were both “Juniors,” both sons of indicidual John Graves, Seniors, possibly closely related, but of two separate and distinct families and of different parishes in different counties.  It has also been assumed that the ‘John Graves, Junior’ family of Spotsylvania (Co., Va.) was originally from King and Queen, or Essex Co., Va., and that it originally traced back to the Gloucester family.  This is partly true in the case of one family and partly true in the case of the other family, hence the need for separating the existing records in all the counties involved and then examining them as to dates, etc.  It is very well known that two bodies cannot occupy the same space and also that one man cannot be two places at once.  For purposes of identification of these two Spotsylvania families, I shall arbitrarily call one the ‘Gloucester’ line and the other the ‘King and Queen’ line.

COUNTY GENEALOGY (to explain the change of county lines to further locate the Graves families).  Firt we should understand the genealogy of the counties involved as well as the families.  It is recommended that this paragraph be rerferred to frequently in the following account.  Spotsylvania was formed in 1721 from portions of Essex, King and Queen, and King William.  King William was cut off from King and Queen in 1701-2; King and Queen had been formed in 1691 from New Kent, and New Kent had been until 1654 a part of York and James City counties.  Before this, in 1651, Gloucester had also been divided from York.  It should also be shown that in 1734 a new county, called Orange, was formed from Spotsylvania and in 1748-9 Culpeper from Orange.  It can thus be seen that while all these counties had come from the original shire, York, that none of them descended from the portion named Gloucester in 1651.  This does not mean too much as they were all small counties and adjoined each other.  It does mean, however, that all these records had to be searched and where it was found that one family living in a certain parish of a certain county and another family of the same name in another county and parish, no matter how close the parish and county, the records were segregated and later scrutinized very closely in relation to each other.

First I shall take up some of the records of John Graves of Spotsylvania County to whom I have assigned the title ‘Gloucester’ line.  A citation is first given to Spotsylvania County Will Book A (1722-1749), page 444, which shows the will of John Graves of St. George Parish, Spotsylvania County, dated March 30, 1747; probated June 2, 1747.  His legatees were as follows:

Wife -- Susanna; sons -- Thomas, Edward, John, Isaac; daughters -- Rebecca, Jemima.

An article in the William & Mary College Quarterly (Series 2), Vol. 16, pp. 650 et seq states that this John Graves was born in St. George’s Parish, Spotsylvania Co., Dec. 10, 1712, and married November 22, 1732, Susanna Dicken, born June 14, 1714.  The article states there was no reference as to the birth date to prove the allegation and that it was an ‘assumed’ date presumably from his Bible.  It was also noted that the place of alleged birth could not be correct as St. George Parish and Spotsylvania County were not to be in existence until nine years after this date in 1721.

LATE REMARRIED (This also to explain the Graves data).  It should be noted here that Susannah Dicken Graves later remarried as is shown in Spotsylvania Order Book, 1755-65, page 3, dated May 7, 1765.  ‘On motion of Henry Chiles, who intermarried with Susannah, widow of John Graves, Dec’d.’

The next exhibit is a Spots. County record from Deed Book F (1761-1766) dated October 3, 1766, which discolsed that ‘Thomas Graves and Sarah, his wife of Culpeper County, (Va.), John Graves and Ann, his wife, of said county, and Isaac Graves and Mildred, his wife, of Ornage Co., all sell to John Chiles of Spots. County, 200 acres of Spotsylvania Co., being the same land devised the said Thomas, John, and Isaac by their father, John Graves, dec’d.’  Their brother Edward also sells land the same date in another deed.  Of these children and their descendants, more later.

Reference should now be made to show who the father of John Graves (d. 1747) of the above will must have been and where he came from.  Records will also be shown later to prove that the following records could not apply to the other John Graves of Spotsylvania.  The following are from the Abingdon Parish Register, Vol. 2, of Gloucester County and concern the father and grandfather of John Graves (died 1747) of Spotsylvania, viz.

BIRTHS AND CHRISTENINGS.  (from the above mentioned Abingdon Parish Register): page 1, 1680, ‘John, the son of Thomas and Mary Graves was bapt. January.’

page 5, 1682, ‘Robert, son of Thomas and Mary Graves, born Febr. ye 14th.’
page 7, 1685, ‘Mary, dau. of Thos. And Mary Graves, bapt. Aug. ye 19th.’
page 24, 1704, ‘Rebecca, dau. of John and Rebeckah Graves, bapt. Jan. 21st.’
page 26, 1706, ‘John, son of John Graaves, was bapt. March ye 9th.’
page 27, 1708, ‘Edward, son of John Graves, bapt. March ye 13th.’

In this article, time and space will not be taken to prove again the parentage of the above cited Thomas Graves and his wife Mary.  Suffice it to say that he had a brother, Jeffry, also of Gloucester Co., (Va.), and they were both sons of Thomas Graves, Sr. (b. 1617) who was the second son of the original emigrant, Capt. Thomas Graves, and by him transported to Virginia (Colony) with his mother, Katherine, and his elder brother, John Graves.

It is, however, reiterated that the above record alone proves that Thomas and Mary Graves of Gloucester had at least three children, among them John Graves, born 1680.  This John Graves and Rebeckah his wife, 24 years later record the birth of their first child, Rebeckah, and in 1706, another child, John, Junior, and in 1708, Edward.

So it would seem that John Graves, Jr. (d. 1747, Spotsylvania Co., Va.) was born in 1706 instead of 1712 and in Abingdon Parish, Gloucester County rather than St. George Parish, Spotsylvania Co. (which was not formed until 1721.  It should also be noticed by all concerned that John Graves (born 1706) had a brother named Edward, a father named John, a grandfather named Thomas, and a mother and sister named Rebecca.  It should also be noticed that John Graves (d. 1747 Spots.) left children (as per his will) named Thomas, John, Edward and Rebeckah.  His other son, Isaac, was named after his wife’s father, Isaac Dicken (supposition).

It is now time to go to the records of the Graves line I have designated the King and Queen line and to the other John Graves Junior of Spotsylvania.  I have not attempted as of this time to prove his lineage beyond his father, John Graves Senior of King and Queen County, Va., but I do not believe that it would be hard to do.  The above said John Graves Senior must necessarily have been of the third generation by reason of his age and another process of elimination should reveal his parentage.  Also, necessarily, he could not possibly have been the son of ‘Thomas Graves and Mary, his wife’ of Abingdon Parish, Gloucester (Co., Va.) as has been alleged.  It may be stated here that this John Graves Jr. of spotsylvania was evidently a very wealthy landowner, that he lived to a great age, even as did his father, John Graves Sr., and that there are many records and deeds concerning him and his family.  I would also like to mention the fact, before I forget it myself, that this John Jr. was evidently living in that portion of Spotsylvania Co. which became Orange County, as revealed by the many deeds in those records concerning him.

Spotsylvania County, Va. Deed Book A (1722-1729), a deed herein dated May 24, 1729, shows that Thomas Gambrill of St. Margaret’s Parish, King William County, in consideration of 100 acres of land sells to John Graves, Junior of St. Stephens Parish, King and Queen County, a tract of and (200 acres) in St. Georges Parish, Spotsylvania County.  One of the witnesses was a Thomas Graves, who is later proven to be a brother of John Graves, Jr. of this document.  This Thomas Graves was in Spotsylvania Co. as early as 1725 buying land and he is probably the influence which moved John, Jr. to move into Spotsylvania from King & Queen County.  It is interesting to note that on page 563 of Spotsylvania Deed Book F is a deed dated May 31, 1765 in which John Graves and Frances his wife, by a deed of gift, transfer this same land, mentioning the date in 1729 when he purchased it, to his son, Joseph.

The proof as to the fact that the above cited Thomas Graves was the brother of this John Graves, Jr., is that in his will of 1768 he designates this same ‘Joseph’ as his ‘Nephew’ and makes him one of the executors of his will.  Thus, we have proof that Thomas and John Graves, Jr. of Spotsylvania Co. (Va.) were not only brothers, but that they were originally from St. Stephens Parish in King & Queen County.  This John Graves, Jr. died intestate (which is unfair to modern day genealogists), but there are many other deeds of gift by him which prove that he had sons named Thomas, James and John in addition to Joseph.  In this connection, I would like to point out that he made a deed of gift to his son, John, in 1760 and thus, this record would preclude John Graves, Jr. who died in 1747 from being his son as has been alleged.  It is not known when this John Graves, Jr. (of King & Queen Co.) died, but he was still making gifts to his son, Joseph, as late as 1772 and must have been at least 80 (years of age) by this time.

TRACE LAND SALE.  It is possible to trace this John Graves, Junior back much further than the Spotsylvania County Deed of 1729 for it is shown in the Journal of the House of Burgesses (1712-1726) on page 56 under the date of November 16, 1713 that a petition was made by William Smith of King William Co. (Va.) to bring in a bill for making good a title of certain entailed lands he had sold to one John Graves, Junior.

Prior to this in King William Co., Deed Book No. 1, pps. 195-6-7 we found a deed dated May 6, 1704 from John Clayton of the Parish of St. John in King William Co. to John Graves of the parish of Stratton Major in King & Queen County, selling him 100 acres in King William County.  This deed was recorded June 1, 1704 and in the same deed book on page 342, dated March 20, 1706-7, this John Graves assigns over all his right, title and interest in the above 100 acres to ‘My son, John Graves’ and his heirs against claim of me or any other person, etc.

Now here is the very best proof that can be obtained that the King & Queen County line and the Gloucester line, as far as the two John Graves Juniors are concerned, are two separate and distinct (family) lines, for in 1706 one John Graves was just being born and in this record in 1706-7 this John Graves, Jr. is of age or above 21 years.

Thus, if we admit that he was only 21 in 1706, he must have been born by 1685 and therefore his father, John Graves, Sr. must have been born about 1665 or before.  By contra evidence we have shown that John Graves, Sr. of Gloucester was born 1680 (Abingdon Parish Register).

RECORD OF MYSTERY.  It might be well to insert here that somewhat of a mystery has attached to the record in Spotsylvania Co. (Va.), Order Book: (1730-1733), page 501, of the John Graves who petitioned to be set free from county levies on account of age and being no longer able to labor.  As a general rule or custom, this would indicate that he must have been at least 70 years of age, and if this is true, then the date of petition (1737) would have been born about 1667.  Thus we can assume with perfect safety that he must have been the father of John Graves, Jr. of King and Queen County (family) line.

It is now time to return to John Graves, Junior (died 1747) of the Gloucester (Co., Va.) line and to correct some assertions as to his descendants.  In the William & Mary College Quarterly (Series 2), Vol. 16, pps. 650 et seq some information is given as to the six children of John and Susanna (Dicken) Graves, viz:

(1) Thomas Graves, born Nov. 14, 1733, died 1810, married Sarah Delaney, dau. of John and Frances (Stanton) Delaney.  (Note: the date of his death given in 1810 in Madison County is in error and hence the children named in this will are the children of another Thomas Graves, of this, more later).  [Note by Kenneth V. Graves: This statement of Hamlin is wrong, and the analysis by Hiden is correct.  This has been proven by DNA analysis on descendants of this line.  See more discussion of this in the Capt. Thomas Graves genealogy.]

(2) John Graves, born Dec. 19, 1737, died Dec. 8, 1825, married Nov. 30, 1760 to Ann, dau. of William and Sarah Rice of Culpeper Co., Va.

(3) Rebecca, born Sept. 4, 1735 (no record).

(4) Isaac Graves, born Sept. 22, 1741, died 1818, married (1st) Mildred McWilliams, (2nd) Elizabeth Cowherd, (3rd) Jemima Holliday.

(5) Jemima Graves, born March 21, 1743-4, married by 1764 to James Chiles, son of her stepfather, Henry Chiles.

(6) Edward Graves, born Aug. 19, 1746, died 1832, married ca. 1769 to Sarah, sister of Ann Rice, whom his brother, John Graves, married.

Let us now return to the first born son, Thomas Graves, cited above and alleged to have died in Madison County, Va. In 1810.  This can easily be proved to have been an error.  This Thomas Graves died in 1792 in Culpeper Co., Va.

CULPEPER LINE.  In proof of this I would like to submit that it has been shown above that Thomas, Isaac, John, and Edward Graves sold land in Spotsylvania Co., Va. Devised them by their father, John Graves (died 1747 of Spotsylvania Co., Va.), and it was further shown that Thomas Graves and his wife, Sarah, were of Culpeper County at that time.  To show that he continued to be ‘of Culpeper’ and never ‘of Madison’, I would like to cite Culpeper County Rentals, folder 1, an original record in the Va. State Library, for the year 1779 in which Thomas Graves is still listed in that county with a total of 1000 acres.  In January of 1781 he is listed under ‘Culpeper Classes’ (another original document) in ‘class 81’ as ‘Thomas Graves, Sr.’ and subject to draft.  (He was 48 yeaers of age at this time and this document entitles his descendants to eligibility in the D.A.R. and S.A.R.)  He made his will 11th Dec. 1788 in culpeper County, Book D, page 44, and it was probated 18 June 1792 in Culpeper Co. at which time he would have been 59 or 60 years of age.

His legatees were: 1. Thomas Graves; 2. Lewis Graves; 3. James Graves; 4. Philip Graves; 5. Joseph Graves; 6. Henrietta Hudson; 7. Elizabeth Sims; 8. Mary Haynes; 9. Frances Wait; and 10. Anne Jones (Wait).  All of the above ten heirs were specifally named as his children.  No wife was mentioned and she must have predeceased him.  Some of the children had emigrated to South Carolina as he makes provision for his son, Lewis, to ‘act for Ann Janes and other legatees in Carolina’.  In a codicil to this will, dated Feb. 1792, he relieves his son, Lewis, from having to act in behalf of his daughter, Elizabeth sims (one of the legatees in South Carolina).  Note: This daughter, Elizabeth, had married Zachariah Sims, son of Thomas Sims of Culpeper (his will probated 18 July 1785).  She married 2ndly a Dr. John Creecy in South Carolina and had issue by the 1st husband.  But this is another story.

In conclusion, I would like to state there are many, many records I have not cited as they might tend to confuse rather than help and for this reason have shown only enough to prove the issue.  I would also like to mention to any future historian of the Graves family of Spotsylvania, Orange, and Culpeper Counties, Va. That there are as many Thomas Graves in the family records as there are John Graves and that extreme care should be taken to keep the Thomases and all their records separated and examined very closely before making positive allegations concerning them.  This is one of our finest Virginia families and they deserve the most careful consideration in regards to their records.