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. 6, May 31, 2008




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


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** General Comments

** New Discoveries from Our DNA Study

** Changes to the GFA Website

** Haplogroups and Relationships Between Graves and Greaves Families

** Using DNA to Find Ancestry and Connections

** To Submit Material to this Bulletin & Other Things






This issue of the bulletin contains some material that may be a little too technical for some of you.  But I am hoping that many of you will find some of the DNA discussions helpful.  Please let me know if you would like for me to explain anything more clearly.


In the next issue there will be more information about our trip to England next June and some of the other future activities.


If I haven’t made changes that you were hoping to see in the genealogies and on the GFA website, it is because I never have nearly enough time to do everything that I want or need to do.  I will welcome any of your suggestions on how to make more of those things happen, and I always welcome your help.  Also, don’t hesitate to remind me of things you think are important.  I always enjoy hearing from you, even if I can’t always respond.






The most exciting new discovery is that genealogy 18 (Jonathan Greaves and Elizabeth Dickson of NC & AL) is part of the Graves family of Caroline Co. & Halifax Co., VA.  (Another example of the many cases where the Graves and Greaves spellings occur in the same family.)  You can see the other families that are related by going to the GFA website, scrolling down to the DNA Study section and clicking on the link to the Charts page, and then going to the summary section for your family group. You can go directly to that at If you look at the summary chart, it shows how I think the families may be related. Based on the DNA results, I think Jonathan Greaves may have been a brother of Snead Graves, and most closely related to the green blocks on the right side of the chart.


Genealogy 18 shares a common ancestor with the descendants of Snead Graves (gen. 49, 84, 103, 169/188, and 906) because they all have mutation 6-14.  If the summary chart is correct and Jonathan Greaves was a brother of the father of William Graves (gen. 103) and Richard Graves (gen. 169/188), then their father probably also had mutation 6-14 and 35-36.






Changes and Additions to DNA Page

Some changes have been made to the DNA page.  Perhaps the most interesting is that a new chart has been added to show the relationships between the various Y-haplogroups and the tested Graves and Greaves families.  This chart can be accessed from the DNA Study section of the main page and from the DNA page.  As we get more mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test results, I will probably create a similar chart for those haplogroups also.






Relationships Between Haplogroups

Everyone who has his or her DNA tested will see a haplogroup associated with the test results.  There are two sets of haplogroups, one for Y-DNA and another for mtDNA.  You can see more about this on a number of websites, including Wikipedia ( and International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) (  The simplified haplogroup chart that has recently been added to the GFA website shows the relationships between the various Graves and Greaves families whose DNA have been tested.  The haplogroup of each person tested is shown on the master DNA test results table at  Since haplogroups are determined by SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) and new SNPs are constantly being discovered, haplogroup names and relationships are constantly changing.  This is the reason some of you may have noticed that the exact name of your haplogroup on the Family Tree DNA website and on the GFA website may be different from what it was before.


Relationships Between Graves and Greaves Families

The families that have been tested are shown on the chart on the GFA website at  Almost all the Y-DNA results in the study are in either haplogroup I or R, with the overwhelming majority in R1b.  It can be readily seen that those in haplogroup I are not very closely related to those in haplogroup R.  For those families that are haplogroup R1b, as more SNPs are found to define more recent subgroups, and as more of us get tested for those SNPs, a more complete chart of family relationships will be developed.


Some definitions of some of the terms used in this discussion are below.



Haplotype: A contraction of the phrase “haploid genotype.”  Commonly used to refer to the set of Y-DNA (or mtDNA) test results for an individual or closely related group of individuals.  This is usually a set of STR numbers for Y-DNA testing or a set of alphanumeric results from an mtDNA test.


Haplogroup: A group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor with a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mutation.  These groups consist of many haplotypes.


Nucleotide: A single unit of nucleic acid, composed of a phosphate, a 5-carbon sugar, and a nitrogenous base.  The base is one of the four chemical building blocks of DNA, Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G), and Thymine (T).  In the classic depiction of the DNA’s spiral ladder structure, the base is half of the “staircase step,” and the sugars and phosphates for the “railing.”  Nucleotides join together to form DNA’s distinctive double helix shape.


STR (short tandem repeat): A class of polymorphisms (mutations) that occurs when a pattern of two or more nucleotides is repeated, and the repeated sequences are directly adjacent to each other.  By examining enough STR loci (locations) and counting how many repeats of a specific STR sequence there are at a given locus, it is possible to create a unique genetic profile of an individual.  For example, a sequence GATA-GATA at a location would be reported as a value of 2 at that location.  This is also known as a microsatellite.


SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism): Pronounced “snip”, this is also called UEP (unique event polymorphism), since any particular SNP is believed to happen only a single time in history.  This is a change in which a single base in the DNA differs from the usual base at that position.  This occurs when a single nucleotide (building block of DNA) is replaced with another.  For example, the sequence CAGT might change to CATT or TAGT.






The use of DNA to find ancestry and connect Graves, Greaves, Grieve, etc. families depends on finding the closest matches, and also finding markers that are specific to families and lines from known ancestors.


To get the most benefit from our DNA study, it would be desirable to find at least one distinctive DNA marker for each line within most large families.  The theory is that there is probably at least one mutation that occurs in every generation, so if that mutation can be identified, all descendants of that ancestor can also be identified.  This is of interest for a couple of reasons: (1) to verify the placement of lines in the genealogy, and (2) to find where unknown lines that are found by DNA testing should be placed.


Using genealogy 270 (John Graves/Greaves of Northamptonshire, England) as an example, the earliest known ancestor was born about 1665.  You can see the male lines of this family on chart270.pdf, accessible from the Charts page of the Graves Family Association website.  No marker has yet been found that separates descendants of his sons John (b.c. 1685) and Thomas (b. 1691).  However, descendants of Thomas (b. by 1724), son of John (b.c. 1685), all have a distinctive marker of 13 at position 6 (6-13), and all these lines are colored green on the chart.  Although many other test samples in that genealogy have mutations (differences from the ancestral haplotype), none of them is yet known to define a line.  The only exception to this is that the descendants of Andrew Joseph Graves (b. 1852) are all characterized by 18 at position 13 (13-18), and they are all colored salmon.  Whether this goes back 1 or 2 more generations we won’t know unless we test another descendant of that generation.  This could be because the mutation was recent, so is not shared by other descendants of that line, or it could be because only one descendant of the line has been tested, so it isn’t known when the mutation occurred.


Genealogy 270 shares a common ancestry with genealogy 47, and all tested descendants of gen. 47 have a value of 39 at position 35 (35-39), rather than the 35-40 for genealogy 270.  No other distinctive markers have been found, although 55-15 may be one, but only one sample of gen. 47 has been tested for 67 markers.


To find distinctive markers for more lines, every line of interest should be upgraded to 67 markers.  Then, more than 67 markers need to be tested for selected samples, compared to find mutations, and then at least one more descendant of each line needs to be tested for those mutated markers to see whether they show up.


Another example of an important family group that would benefit greatly from additional DNA testing is the largest group in our study, that of the Greaves family of Beeley, which includes Rear Adm. Thomas Graves of Charlestown, MA (gen. 28), John Graves of Concord, MA (gen. 166), John Greaves of St. Mary’s Co., MD (gen. 247), Francis Graves of VA (gen. 220), and many others.  If markers can be found that define specific families, then it will be possible to say whether gen. 77 is really descended from gen. 166, and which family gen. 150 and many others are descended from.  If we can gather enough genetic information, it should eventually even be possible to determine which part of which family any family segment is from.





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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