A Free, Occasional, Online Summary of Items of Interest to Descendants of all Families of Graves, Greaves, Grieves, Grave, and other spelling variations Worldwide


Vol. 10, No. 11, Nov. 26, 2008




Copyright © 2008 by the Graves Family Association and Kenneth V. Graves.  All rights reserved.


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** General Comments

** Trip to England in June 2009

** African American Genealogies and Charts Added to Website

** Questions and Answers about Capt. Thomas Graves of Virginia

** New Discoveries from Our DNA Study

** Special End-of-Year DNA Test Pricing Offer from Family Tree DNA

** Offer of Free DNA Testing for Men in the U.K. and Ireland is Continuing

** Using Google for Genealogy

** To Submit Material to this Bulletin & Other Things






The most important item in this issue of the Bulletin is about our trip to England in June 2009.  The cost is expected to be significantly less than previously announced because of the improving currency exchange rate.  You need to send your registration and deposit before the end of this year to reserve your place.


This issue also announces a special lower-price DNA testing offer for new customers from Family Tree DNA, and extends the offer of free DNA testing for men in the U.K. and Ireland.


And finally, there is a lengthy discussion of the difficult issue of the identity, ancestry, and descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves of Virginia.  This issue is far from being settled, but perhaps this article will motivate some of you to try to help resolve the questions about this part of the family.






Have you always wanted to go to England but thought it was just a dream?  Are you descended from a Graves or Greaves family in England, and would you love to visit the places they lived and meet some of their descendants who still live there?  Now is your chance!  The Graves Family Association tour of England will be June 4-16, 2009, starting and ending in London.


We will be visiting places of scenic and historical interest, as well as places of significance to your ancestors.  This will not be a research trip, and we do not plan to schedule time in archives and libraries, although you always have the option to go off on your own for a day.  In the 2009 tour, we will be visiting a few of the same places as in 1995, but in no way will this be a repeat of that trip.  The present plans are for the tour to include Keswick and the beautiful Lake District, the Hertford/Nazeing area, York, Lincolnshire, and London.  We are also considering visiting other places including King’s Norton and Moseley Hall (now part of Birmingham), Mickleton, Beeley, and Buckingham.  Meetings with members of the various Graves and Greaves families will be an important part of the tour.  See also the discussion on the website under Activities/Future Events.


Even though the present financial crisis is impacting everyone, the good news is that the exchange rate has greatly improved in favor of the U.S. dollar.  We now expect the cost of the tour to be several hundred dollars less that previously advertised.  The exact price reduction will be announced early next year.  As a start on that savings, if you sign up by Dec. 31, you can deduct an earlybird discount of $150 (up from $75 before).  The charge for those who have already sent their deposits will be adjusted later.


The tour brochure and the registration form are on the GFA website in PDF format, and they are also available from me through the mail.  In addition to the places mentioned in the tour brochure, we will be going to Beeley Hilltop and perhaps other places close to Beeley.  There will also be opportunity for anyone who wants to visit other places during the tour to go off on their own and rejoin the tour later.  If you want to visit a specific place or do research on your own, you will be able to do that.


Spread the word about the tour.  Invite your relatives and any friends who might like to go along.  We would really like to have as many people on the tour as possible, especially since it will probably reduce the cost for all participants.  It is also very important that we have enough participants to make the tour profitable for the tour operator – it would be a shame to have to cancel the trip because of not having enough people.  Let me know if you want more tour brochures or want me to send some directly to anyone else.


Remember that you will get a $150 discount if you register by Dec. 31, 2008, reducing the initial deposit to only $100 (from $250).






I have completed and updated four Graves genealogies for African American families of Caswell Co., NC.  These are for the families of Warren Graves and Henriette ------ of SC and Caswell Co. & Rockingham Co., NC (genealogy 218), which has two DNA tests, James Graves and Melvina ------ of Caswell Co., NC (genealogy 22), Parents of Harry Graves and Aquilla Graves of Caswell Co., NC (genealogy 455), and Parents of John Graves and Samuel Graves of Caswell Co., NC (genealogy 658).  It is not known whether some of these families (and others of Caswell Co.) are descended from a common Graves ancestor or from more than one male ancestor.  The family of Warren Graves (genealogy 218) is descended from an African male ancestor, as shown by the tested haplotype being E1b1a rather than a European haplotype.  I would very much like to get more information and DNA tests for these and other African American families.


I have put versions of all 4 genealogies with accompanying charts on the Graves Family Association website. You can go directly to the information on either the Charts page at or on the African American page at






What we do know:

Capt. Thomas Graves is of great interest to many people (especially Americans) because he was the first settler in America with the Graves (or variant spelling) surname, and many people have claimed him as their ancestor.  He arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, probably in Oct. 1608, in the ship "Mary and Margaret" with Captain Christopher Newport's second supply to the new colony.  Genealogy 169 on the GFA website gives much more information about this Thomas Graves and his descendants.


What we don’t know and what we do know to be wrong:

However, we don’t know where he was from, who his parents were, or anything about his earlier ancestry.  He may have been living in Dublin, Ireland at the time of his sailing to Virginia, but no confirmation of that has ever been found.  Although it was once believed that we knew much about his descendants, our DNA study has shown us that much of what we thought was correct is apparently wrong.


The previous findings of many excellent researchers (including Mrs. P. W. Hiden, William Montgomery Sweeney, and others) over many years were that Capt. Thomas Graves was the father of three sons (John, Thomas, and Francis) and three daughters (Verlinda, Ann, and Katherine).  Because it is easier to use DNA to trace male ancestry than female ancestry, the male lines from the three purported sons have been extensively researched, and the Y‑DNA of many male descendants through all-male lines has been tested.  It was very surprising to find that there were actually 4 male ancestors rather than only one for those who had all been believed to descend from Capt. Thomas Graves.  The direct male ancestor was different for (1) son John Graves through his son Ralph, (2) son John Graves through his son Thomas, (3) son Thomas Graves, and (4) son Francis Graves.  How could this be?  Surely something was seriously wrong!  The possibility that there was something wrong with the DNA testing was considered but ruled out by testing numerous descendants of many lines.  Therefore, the problem had to be with the documentation.


But the descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves have been researched by some of the best professional and amateur genealogists available.  How could they be wrong?  Well, we know that much documentation in Virginia and elsewhere in the southern U.S. is missing, destroyed during the U.S. Civil War or by other means.  We also know that outstanding genealogists have sometimes disagreed on the most likely interpretation of the data that is available.  There is no question that the available documented evidence is insufficient and the conclusions may be wrong.  (Note: Our experience and that of other family groups has serious implications for most other southern U.S. genealogies.  There are undoubtedly many, many erroneous lineages that have been accepted by the DAR, the Jamestowne Society, First Families of Virginia, and many other heritage societies.)


Then I was asked, couldn’t part of the problem be that there was an adoption or an extramarital affair that was never documented.  Yes, we know that there have been many adoptions, extramarital affairs, name changes, and other events for which there is no available documentation.  However, in this case, there are 4 different male ancestors, and 3 of the DNA signatures exactly match 3 different, known, unrelated Graves families.  How likely is it that Capt. Thomas Graves would have adopted or been otherwise closely connected with two other unrelated Graves families?  It seems very improbable!  The descendants of his son Thomas are the only ones whose Y-DNA signature does not match with a known Graves or Greaves family, so it is possible that he may have had a different father but still been part of the family of Capt. Thomas Graves.


So where does that leave us?

The descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves via son John and his son Ralph are related to Thomas Graves of Hartford, CT (genealogy 168), and the paper document trail seems to be fairly solid, so they have been left in genealogy 169.


The descendants of son Francis Graves are related to John Graves of Concord, MA (genealogy 166), Rear Adm. Thomas Graves of Charlestown, MA (genealogy 28), John Greaves of St. Mary’s Co., MD (genealogy 247), and many others.  This part of the family has been removed from gen. 169 and made genealogy 220.  In addition to the argument in the preceding paragraph, there is an appendix in gen. 169 which shows that there is considerable question about the documentary proof.  The paper document trail seems to be nowhere near as solid as that in the preceding paragraph.


The descendants of son John and his son Thomas are related to Thomas Greaves of Northamptonshire & Buckinghamshire, England (genealogy 47).  Documentation has also been found that this part of the family arrived in Virginia in the late 1600’s and was not descended from Capt. Thomas Graves.  It is now genealogy 270.


Genealogy 169 for Capt. Thomas Graves now consists of the descendants of his son John through his son Ralph, and the descendants of his son Thomas.  The only way that the descendants of son Thomas can be thought to descend from Capt. Thomas Graves is to assume there was something such as an extramarital event or adoption.


The genealogies of all these Graves families that were formerly part of genealogy 169 are being compiled, in an effort to get them as complete as possible.  It is interesting to note that genealogy 270 is presently 2000 pages (without the index), genealogy 169 is 756 pages, and genealogy 220 is 310 pages.  It is surprising and somewhat puzzling that most of what used to be in genealogy 169 has been proven not to be descended from Capt. Thomas Graves, and is now in genealogy 270.  It is also surprising and a little disturbing that we know such a relatively small amount about the descendants of the lines other than genealogy 270.


How do we find the answers we need?

If you go to the website for GHOTES (Genealogy & Historie Of The Eastern Shore) at, you will find a lot of very interesting information.  Of special interest is the interactive map section which allows users to see who lived where by tracing property ownership.  You can see the part of this that pertains to the family of Capt. Thomas Graves by clicking on the link on the GHOTES page for Northampton Co., and then selecting any of the 3 map sections.  The sources for this are Whitelaw, deeds, wills and other sources.


(Ralph T. Whitelaw was the author of Virginia's Eastern Shore: A History of Northampton and Accomack Counties.  It is a two-volume set of books containing a history of the two counties, Accomack and Northampton, comprising the land in Virginia which lies east of the Chesapeake Bay. The Eastern Shore was first settled in the early 1600's mainly by the English.


Whitelaw was a little different from most historians in that he wrote on the history of the land and its ownership as opposed to the history of people and their accomplishments. He traced the ownership of the each piece of land from its first patent in the 1600s to the mid 1800s. This is not a hard and fast rule but it was as far as it was practical for him to go.  Over the several centuries through inheritance and sales the land was broken down into smaller and smaller pieces making it totally unfeasible for him to continue beyond that point. In some few cases he did continue but only because of the ease in doing so.)


The information in Whitelaw shows Capt. Thomas Graves, his wife Katherine, his 3 daughters, Verlinda, Ann and Katherine, and his son John.  It does not seem to show his son Thomas.  Whether it shows a son Francis is open to question.  It lists a Francis Graves, but it also lists Frances Trewitt and George Truhett, who may have been the daughter and son-in-law of Capt. Thomas Graves.  Several conclusions could be drawn from this information.  One possibility is that Thomas was not a son of Capt. Thomas Graves, since he doesn’t appear in Whitelaw, and another possibility is that he was an adopted or illegitimate child.  Regarding Frances/Francis Graves, one possibility is that this was a daughter Frances who married George Trewitt, and the name of Francis Graves is Whitelaw was a misspelling of Frances.  Another possibility is that there was indeed a son Francis, but he wasn’t the same person as the Francis with descendants.  To try to resolve some of the questions, a close look at Whitelaw is needed (I haven’t actually read Whitelaw and the original documents that he looked at), plus more research, and perhaps additional DNA testing.


All comments and any suggestions for further research will be appreciated.






The most recent results include:

·        A second descendant of genealogy 592 (Edward Greaves and Mary ------ of Nottingham, England), who exactly matches the results for the descendant who was previously tested.  But they don’t match any other family.

·        A descendant of genealogy 441 (John R. Graves and Hannah Corder of TN, KY & IL), who is part of the group that includes genealogies 13 and 148, probably descended from the Graves families of Cambridgeshire, England.


We continue to need much more information.  Men with the Graves/Greaves surname who are descended from families that have not yet been tested should participate in the DNA study.  The offer of free DNA testing for those in the U.K. and Ireland is continuing, as discussed in the next article.






Family Tree DNA (the company we use for most of our DNA testing) has just announced that effective November 26th, 2008 they will institute special pricing for new-kit-purchasing participants.


The products that will be offered at the special prices are:


















Full Genomic mtDNA






This offer is good until December 31st, 2008 for kits ordered and paid for by that time.


To take advantage of this offer, the easiest way is to go to the main page of the Graves Family Association website at, scroll down to the DNA Study section, click on the link for “How to Sign Up”, and follow the instructions.  The 37-marker Y-DNA test is the one we usually recommend.






Because it is so important to get descendants of the families of Greaves, Graves, Grieves, and other spellings in the U.K. and Ireland to take part in our DNA study, we will continue to pay the full cost for Y-DNA testing for male descendants in the U.K. and Ireland with any variation of the surname who provide enough ancestral information to be helpful to the study. and who are not too closely related to someone who has already been tested.  It is our goal to be able to connect all the families that are related, and DNA testing is the only tool that will let us know for sure that families share a common ancestor.  Please help to find people who are willing to be tested.






A new book called Google Your Family Tree, by Daniel M. Lynch, was recently published.  Information about it is at  It is 352 pages, soft cover.  I do not have a copy and am not necessarily recommending it.  However, it might be of interest to some of you.  The next two paragraphs are quotes from their website.


“Google is the most powerful tool available for online genealogy research. With more than 20 billion pages included in Google's index of the Web, it's likely that some of these pages contain clues about your ancestors, but finding these pages requires an understanding of filtering and other techniques to realize the full value of this free online service!


This new book helps you understand and use dozens of specialized commands to dramatically improve your search skills. Many of these commands seem custom built to help with our pursuit of our family heritage. The great news is that most are easy to master and perfectly suited for finding people, places, and events. A special command even lets you narrow results by date range to filter results more quickly.”





This bulletin is written and edited by Kenneth V. Graves,  Ken Graves was also editor of the Graves Family Newsletter (no longer published).  This bulletin will contain announcements and news of special interest to Graves descendants with Internet access.  It will not contain queries, genealogies, photos, and the kind of in-depth articles that used to appear in the Graves Family Newsletter.



Send any material you would like to have included in this bulletin to  The editor reserves the right to accept, edit or reject any material submitted.



If you do not already belong to the GFA, you can join by sending $20 per year to Graves Family Association, 20 Binney Circle, Wrentham, MA 02093 (more details on GFA website).  Payment may also be sent electronically via PayPal by going to and sending payment to  Benefits include access to the “members only” section of the website, membership directory, and help with learning more about your Graves/Greaves family.  The purpose of the GFA is to bring together as many descendants as possible to work toward learning more about the Graves/Greaves families, to help other descendants, and to instill pride in our ancestry.



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