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. 11, No. 2, March 29, 2009




Copyright © 2009 by the Graves Family Association and Kenneth V. Graves.  All rights reserved.


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** General Comments

** Trip to England in June 2009

** Graves Gathering in San Antonio, Texas This August

** How You Can Learn More About Your Family and Its Ancestry

** Free DNA Testing for Those in Britain

** Updates to the GFA Website

** Reading Old Graves Family Bulletins

** New Website Maps Surnames Worldwide

** Comment About Ancestry of Graves/Greaves Families

** More on the Family of Capt. Thomas Graves of Virginia

** Recent International Conference on Genetic Genealogy in Houston, Texas

** To Submit Material to this Bulletin & Other Things






This is only the second issue of this bulletin for 2009.  Usually they are published more frequently, but too many things have interfered the last couple of months.  However, there have been many exciting things happening, as you will see in the following articles.






There is still time to sign up for the trip to England this June.  To do so, either contact me or go to the GFA website to look at the brochure, and then contact the travel agency.


We are adjusting the tour agenda slightly to not only include Beeley in Derbyshire, where some of the earliest family members lived, but also to include Lincolnshire, since a significant number of those on the tour have roots in that area.


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 to fulfill your dream.


The tour brochure and the registration form are on the GFA website in PDF format.


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.  Let me know if you want more tour brochures or want me to send some directly to anyone else.






The Southwest Chapter of the Graves Family Association will be holding a Graves reunion in San Antonio, Texas, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009, from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  It is hoped and expected that many people will arrive on Friday and stay until Sunday.  This will be for all Graves and Greaves families.  Ken Graves may be attending and speaking on subjects of interest to the families.  More details will be published as they are available.  For more information and to help, contact Ron Graves at






I often hear from people who are discouraged about their inability to find earlier ancestors.  They often tend to assume that if they can’t find what they are looking for online (especially on family trees submitted to or in published books, then it doesn’t exist.  That is not correct!  Many answers can be found if we know what to look for, where to look, and what it means when we find it.


In fact, much material of genealogical interest has been microfilmed, but only some of that has been digitized and put online.  And much material has not even been microfilmed.


So how can you get past your “brick walls” and find the answers you are looking for?  First of all, you need to do more than just look for the answers that someone else has found.  Even if you find them, they may be wrong.  You need to look at the pertinent original records and draw conclusions from them.  To do that, I suggest you take a genealogy class on how to do research, where to find records, and what records are apt to be helpful.  Join a local, state, and/or national genealogical society.  In the U.S., good ones include the National Genealogical Society in Arlington, VA, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, MA.  They both have websites and publish excellent magazines.  There are also some good books on how to do research.  You can go to genealogical conferences (NGS has one in Raleigh, NC, May 13-16, 2009).


In the latest issue of the NGS Magazine (Jan.-March 2009) are several excellent articles showing how to do research, including one by Ronald Ames Hill.  His essential elements for creating his recent book (for a U.S. family) were:

(1)   Try to contact those who have done research on the family of interest.

(2)   Learn what is known of the family structure.

(3)   Try to learn about the issues that are in controversy or are disputed.

(4)   Repeat all the old research.  Study all the original documents cited.

(5)   Identify the record classes that have been overlooked.  For him, this involved county tax records, deed books, probate records, and county court minutes.

His record search required numerous visits to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  (There are also local branch Family History Libraries all over the U.S. and in many other countries, where microfilm records can be ordered.)  For records not yet filmed, he spent a few weeks traveling to courthouses in several states, and hired researchers to find and photocopy deeds and other records in other states.  He believes his most essential activities were to thoroughly search every record he could find, first in Salt Lake City and then in local repositories, and to search chancery and circuit court records.


If some of this is beyond your interest, time, or financial resources, you can hire a professional genealogist to do it, or encourage relatives to help you.  If you want to start a research team for your part of the family or for your group of families (shown by DNA to share a common ancestor), I will be happy to suggest ways to do that and help you get in touch with interested relatives.






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 with any variation of the surname who provides 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 number of pages on the website have been revised, including the page for notable ancestors.  Admiral Samuel Graves (responsible for all British naval operations before and during the American Revolution) and John Graves Simcoe (godson of Adm. Samuel Graves and a major shaper of modern-day Canada) have been added, and additions have been made to the section for poet and author Robert Graves.  All these men are part of genealogy 68, the Graves family of Yorkshire and Mickleton Manor, Gloucestershire.  Additions have also been made to the discussion for former soccer star Jimmy Greaves.


Changes have also been made to the pages for GFA officers and volunteers, both in the “About GFA” section of the website.






Did you miss a bulletin? Have you just started receiving the Graves Family Bulletin and are curious about what was in some of the previous ones. You can always read any of the old bulletins, from 1997 through the present, by going to the GFA website at, clicking on the Products tab at the top of the page, clicking on the Bulletin link, and then scrolling down to the issue that you are interested in. Although there is not now an index to the articles, I am hoping to provide one soon.






An interesting new website was recently called to my attention by Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.  It is called Public Profiler/worldnames at  The site plots eight million last names using data from electoral rolls and phone directories. The site covers 300 million people in 26 countries, showing the origins of names and where families have moved. The site also reveals which of the five million first names (forenames) are most closely associated with different surnames and lists the top regions and cities for each surname.


I have extracted information from the site for the Graves, Greaves, Grave, Grieves, Grieve, Greeves, and Greave spellings, and put it on the Surname Distribution page of Graves Family Association website at  It is interesting to see the geographical distribution and the frequencies of the various spellings in different countries and within each country.  The Graves spelling is the most common, followed by Greaves, with Grieve and Grave much less common.  The Graves spelling is the most common in the U.S., with the states of Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas having the highest frequency.  Greaves is most common in the U.K. (as has been noted before in this bulletin and on the website), with the highest frequencies in Sheffield, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham and Manchester.


The highest frequency of the Grieve surname is in Australia and New Zealand, and in Scotland.  The Grave surname is most common in the Netherlands, Norway and France, while the surname in the U.K. is most common in Carlisle and Keswick.


The most common forenames for the Graves surname are John, Robert, James, David, and William.  For the Greaves surname, the most common forenames are John, David, Michael, Margaret, and Andrew.






I occasionally am asked what the parentage and ancestry is for the earliest Graves/Greaves ancestor in a genealogy.  My answer, of course, is that if I knew the answer I would revise the genealogy and put that person as the earliest known ancestor.  The first person in all genealogies is always the earliest known Graves/Greaves ancestor.






Much information about the family of Capt. Thomas Graves of VA (the 1608 immigrant, genealogy 169) is on the GFA website, and I have written about this family numerous times in this bulletin.  The most recent article was in the vol. 10, no. 11, Nov. 26, 2008 issue, where I explained what we know, what we need to learn, and some of the ways we might be able to find the answers.


As I have explained, it was once thought that all the Graves descendants in Virginia were descended from Capt. Thomas Graves, since no other early Graves immigrants with descendants were known.  However, as a result of our DNA study, we found that the supposed descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves actually consisted of four different major DNA groups.  This means that there were four different male ancestors, only one of whom could have been Capt. Thomas Graves.  Based on my evaluation of the present evidence, I have removed what is now genealogy 270 from genealogy 169, and do not believe there is any possibility that this group is descended from Capt. Thomas Graves.  Because the group descended via John2 and Ralph3 has more solid documentation, I believe that this line is more likely to be that of Capt. Thomas Graves.  However, it is not impossible that the line from Francis Graves (previously believed to be the youngest son of Capt. Thomas Graves, now separated as genealogy 220) was really the only true son.  The DNA of the groups of descendants of sons John and Francis match known (although different) Graves ancestors (as explained previously).  The last group of descendants is from son Thomas, and the DNA of his descendants does not match that of any known Graves/Greaves DNA group, suggesting that he may have been adopted, illegitimate, etc.  Please note that these are only my opinions, and we don’t have absolute proof.


We all hope that future research and more sophisticated DNA testing will some day give us the answer.  I made some suggestions in the previous article.  However, for those of you who don’t like my tentative conclusions, you need to take some positive action.  Suggest a way to prove that contrary conclusions are correct and do something about it.  We have learned a huge amount about this family in just a few years.  We never knew there were so many errors in the genealogy, and now we have not only found many of the errors but have corrected many of them.  But if you expect me to provide all the answers now, that is not going to happen.  Time, money and expertise are limited.  If we are to find the desired answers, others of you need to step forward to spearhead some part of the effort.  For us to succeed, the Graves Family Association needs to be a collaborative enterprise.


In addition to the suggestions I have previously made to find the answers, an additional approach that was discussed at our January meeting in Arlington, VA, was to work with hereditary societies (such as the Jamestowne Society) and their genealogists.  I would be delighted to have someone volunteer to help with that.






On March 14 and 15, I attended the 5th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy, organized by Family Tree DNA.  This event, usually held annually, is mainly for administrators of DNA projects, and features renowned experts on genetic genealogy and related subjects.  I have now attended four of the five conferences, missing only the fourth one.  This time there were at least two other Graves descendants attending, Mic Barnette (genealogy 220) and Juvanne Martin (genealogy 250), and possibly others I didn’t know about.


For anyone interested but not attending the conference, the best summary I have seen of much of it is on Steve Danko’s blog at





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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