Not only is Capt. Thomas Graves of VA the first settler with the Graves surname in America, but he is also believed to be the immigrant ancestor of many Graves descendants in America. Capt. Thomas Graves was probably born about 1580, in England or Ireland, and arrived in Jamestown, VA in 1608. He was recorded as from Dublin, Ireland, in 1608, but was perhaps originally from the vicinity of London, England. His wife is believed to have been Katherine Croshaw (or Crosher), possibly daughter or sister of Raleigh Croshaw.

From the will of William Crashawe, PCC 97 Hale, 1 Nov. 1621, proved 6 Oct. 1626, as published in Virginia Settlers and English Adventurers, by Currer-Briggs: "William Crashaw, Bachelor in Divinity, Preacher of God's Word first in Bridlington, then at Beverley in Yorkshire, afterwards at the Temple, since then Pastor of the Church of Agnes Burton in the Diocese of York, now pastor of that too great parish of Whitechapel in the suburbs of London... (indicates he is married, and then bequeaths books to many libraries in Cambridge, London, Ireland, and Yorkshire, etc.) ... To the parish church of Hausworth in Yorkshire where I was born ... To my brother Thomas all my civil law books he hath not and 20/- to bestow on a fair Bible for my sister his wife." The will goes on to list other relatives and also mentions Sir Edwyn Sandys and others involved with the Virginia Company of London. It is possible that this may refer to Thomas Graves married to William's sister Katherine Crashaw.

It is possible that Capt. Thomas Graves studied law and was a barrister. Note the bequeathing of law books "to my brother Thomas" in the will of William Crashawe. Articles about the Croshaw family in the Graves Family Newsletter (pages 52-54, 1995, and page 81, 1994) are pertinent. They state that Capt. Raleigh Croshaw arrived in Oct. 1608 in Jamestown, VA with Capt. Thomas Graves. One of his sons, Joseph Croshaw, was a barrister, believed to have been trained in England, and apparently his father, Capt. Raleigh Croshaw, also had been a barrister there before he emigrated. A search for a barrister named Thomas Graves in England might be helpful.

In spite of much research over many years, this family has been shown to be the most difficult of any major Graves family to accurately define. The amount of new information gathered from our DNA study has been of tremendous value in giving us a much better understanding of the structure of the family of Capt. Thomas Graves of VA than we could ever have gotten by traditional research alone. However, many of us have been surprised and puzzled by the discovery that the descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves are apparently actually descended from a total of 3 or 4 immigrant ancestors, not just one. (See the chart summary of this family, and especially the discussion of the rationale for the several groups and the chart.) One question that needs answering is how this can be. A second question is, assuming this is correct, which of the 3 or 4 immigrants was Capt. Thomas Graves. The four apparent lines are:
  1. Thomas1, John2, Ralph3, Ralph4
  2. Thomas1, John2, Thomas3, John4
  3. Thomas1, Thomas2, Thomas3, John4, John5
  4. Thomas1, Francis2
With the first 3 lines, the generations at the end (that is, the 4th generation for the first two and the 5th for the third) are the earliest ancestor in that line for whom the DNA result has been confirmed by finding at least two descendants for whom this is the common ancestor. For Francis Graves, we do not have even a solid common ancestor that far back (only back to generation 6).

Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th edition, 2005, does not seem to support the conclusion that there were 3 or 4 separate immigrant ancestors of the descendants traditionally attributed to Capt. Thomas Graves. Possible explanations for the surprising results from DNA testing and the lack of agreement with Adventurers of Purse and Person are: (1) male descendants of only one of the sons of Capt. Thomas Graves survived and had male children, (2) there were events such as adoptions or children fathered by non-Graves men, causing lines of descendants that didn't have the DNA of Capt. Thomas Graves, or (3) this book and previous researchers are wrong and have included people who are not really descendants. The first option is a definite possibility, but the second option is extremely unlikely. That is because 3 of the 4 lines exactly match known Graves lines. The likelihood of a Graves couple adopting an unrelated Graves child, or of a Graves man fathering a child by the wife of an unrelated Graves man, seems remote. Option 3 is at least part of the problem; even with the best research, when documentation is incomplete there is a tendency to rely on less rigorous proof.

The ancestry of Capt. Thomas Graves has been given variously be different people. Some of the more common claims (none with credible evidence) are:

  1. According to Mr. Jefferson James Graves of Ross, California (in a paper dated 1938, filed as a transcript in the Filson Club, Louisville, KY), Capt. Thomas Graves was the second son of John Graves, Jr., Mayor of Hull (the commonly-used name for Kingston upon Hull), England in 1598, who was a son of John Graves, Lord Mayor of York, England in 1570. That John Graves was a son of Hugh Graves, son of Robert Graves of Cleckheaton. According to Jefferson J. Graves, the sons of John Graves, Jr. were Hugh, Thomas, Benjamin and John. This ancestral line is that of the Graves family of Yorkshire and Mickleton Manor (genealogy 68).
    Mr. Ken Smallbone of Basingstoke, Hants, England, a researcher I hired in 1996, conducted a search of wills at the Borthwick Institute, York. Among other documents, he found the wills of Hugh Graves of York (will proved 1589) and of John Graves of Kingston on Hull (will proved 1615), and an administration for the estate of Thomas Graves of Kingston on Hull (granted to his widow Margaret in 1627). The conclusion is that this cannot be Capt. Thomas Graves, since Thomas of Hull inherited considerable property in England, his wife was not named Katherine, and he had died by 1627 (rather than 1635-36 for Capt. Thomas Graves).
  2. According to various contributors to the LDS Ancestral File and elsewhere, his parents were Thomas Graves (b.c. 1556 of Lamborne, Berkshire, England) and Joan Blagrove (b.c. 1560, of Lamborne, daughter of Thomas Blagrove and Joan Bellame). Various spellings of the place have been used, and there is a Lambourn in Berkshire, west of London, between Reading and Swindon.
    I contacted all those who provided this ancestry, and was not able to obtain any substantiation from anyone. Mrs. Jean Wall did a limited search in Salt Lake City and was not able to either substantiate or disprove this ancestry. She did find a Blagrove genealogy book there. It showed a Thomas Blagrove and Joan Bellame with children John and Mary. No mention of a Thomas Graves marrying a Joan Blagrove was on the chart. However, John Blagrove was shown with wife Joane. According to James Lawler: "The will of Thomas Graves (wife Joan) (Blagrove from marriage license) with child son Thomas is extant." But this will has been neither found nor examined. I also hired genealogist Neil D. Thompson of Salt Lake City to investigate this possible ancestry; he was not able to find any substantiation.
  3. Another unsupported source gives his father as Capt. Henry Graves.
  4. Another unsupported source said he was descended from the Greaves family of Beeley, Derbyshire (genealogy 228).
  5. The Historic Jamestowne website at www.historicjamestowne/biographies/ gives a possible place and date of birth as Feb. 9, 1587 in Leeds, Yorkshire. There is a reference on the LDS website to this event on film 170475, with father as Edward Graves. No evidence is given to support this Thomas being the same person as the 1608 settler.


We need volunteers to organize and oversee this research. We also need money to hire people to do some of the research. With the clues we now have, I am confident that this effort will produce the results we want if we are willing to do what is required to make it happen. Let me know if you are willing to help.


As a result of our DNA study, it has been found that there is a group of families that are all related to John Graves of Halifax Co., VA (born about 1735, genealogy 145), and probably all descended from an ancestor in Caroline Co. and Halifax Co., Virginia. We have not yet found a related family in England, but that discovery is probably only a matter of time. If you go to the Graves Family Association website and click on the link in the DNA Study section for Charts, and then scroll down to the section for Graves Families of Caroline Co. & Halifax Co., VA, you will see all the family segments that are presently believed to be part of this family. Note especially the family of Richard Graves and Jane Fielding presently included in genealogy 169. The DNA results make it clear that the descendants of this couple do not belong as descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves (gen. 169). Since the DNA result of a descendant of Richard Graves and Millie Murrell matched other descendants of this part of genealogy 169, it is apparent that there were two different men named Richard Graves, and the same Richard Graves did not marry Millie Murrell and then Jane Fielding. A DNA test result has now been received for a descendant of William Lynch Graves (genealogy 84). This result exactly agrees with that for the descendants of Richard Graves and Jane Fielding. It has been believed that this Richard Graves and William Lynch Graves were brothers and sons of a John Graves, possibly the one shown in genealogy 169 as their father (but belonging in a different genealogy).



It has been found through the Graves DNA study that Thomas Graves of Hartford, CT (genealogy 168) and Deacon George Graves of Hartford, CT (genealogy 65) shared a common ancestor, and were apparently brothers. George Grave(s) was born about 1600 in England, and settled in Hartford, CT about 1636 as one of the original proprietors. He may have come from London or vicinity, since a sister-in-law, Anna Graves, born about 1583, lived in London. Anna Graves had only one daughter, who died by 1675. A widow Ann Graves (possibly the same as Anna Graves) of Great Monores St., St. Botulph Parish, Aldgate (or Olgate), London, by will proven in 1676 gave annuities to the children of Deacon George Graves in case her grandson, Joseph Hardey, had no children. It is believed that George had a sister, Sarah Graves, who married Richard Lord of New London, CT. It is believed that George had another sister, Abigail Graves, who first married William Andrews and married second Nathaniel Barding, both in Hartford, CT or vicinity. George Graves may be the person recorded as "George Grave, freeholder in the Borough of Hertford", England in 1621, listed in Cussan's Hertfordshire. (It has also been suggested that George might have come from Braintree, Essex, England.) He was a weaver in comfortable circumstances. He was married first in England (possibly to Anne Andrews) and his two oldest children were born there.

It also seems possible that George Graves was related to John Graves (genealogy 337), who settled in Roxbury, MA in May 1633, arriving from Nazing (or Nazeing or Nasing), Essex, England, with wife and 5 children: John, Samuel, Jonathan, Sarah and Mary. His wife died soon after arrival and he then married Judith Alward or Allard in Dec. 1635. It may be that John Graves followed Rev. John Elliott from Nazeing. Rev. Elliot was one of the closest colleagues in England of Rev. Thomas Hooker (associated with the founding of Hartford, CT and with Deacon George Graves). "Elliot came to New England late in 1631, along with some other members of his congregation in Nazeing, who settled in Roxbury. Others from Nazeing would follow in the years immediately ensuing. Nazeing and Chelmsford [where Rev. Hooker was living] were only a few miles apart in western Essex."

Thomas Graves (genealogy 168) is believed to have been born before 1585 in England. He may have settled in Cambridge, MA (then called New Town), then moved to Hartford, CT by 1645, and later moved to Hatfield, CT. It is probably more than coincidence that Thomas Graves lived in Hartford and then Hatfield, both in the area of England where he is believed to have originated.

It is believed by Kenneth V. Graves, but considered unlikely by other "experts", that Thomas Graves of Hartford, CT may be the same person as Thomas Graves, Engineer (genealogy 131), from Gravesend, Kent, England, going in 1629 to Salem, MA, and living in Cambridge, MA. The circumstancial evidence includes: (1) they had the same name, (2) there is no evidence that they are different people, (3) the known dates of their being in New England do not overlap, they were born about the same time, (5) they had the same number of children, and (6) many people who lived in Cambridge, MA later settled in Hartford, CT.

It is interesting to note that one branch of the descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves of VA (genealogy 169) shares a common ancestor with this family.

None of this family has yet been found in England.



WHAT IS KNOWN: Our DNA study has shown that the largest group of Graves and Greaves families in England and America seems to be descended from the family of Beeley, Derbyshire (genealogy 228). This group includes the Greaves family of Stepney, London (genealogies 28 and 28A), the Greaves family of Macclesfield, Cheshire (genealogy 334), and various families of the U.S. (including John Graves of Concord, MA, gen. 166, John Greaves of St. Mary's Co., MD, gen. 247, and Francis Graves of VA, gen. 220). Research was conducted in the late 1800's in England by Eben Putnam, some of it published as "Notes on the Ancestry of Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves of Charlestown, Mass.", Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, vol. 31, 1895. His research, primarily in wills, provided much information about the Greaves family of Stepney and Limehouse, Middlesex, from which Rear Admiral Thomas Graves of Charlestown, MA was descended.

Although the ancestry in England of Rear Admiral Thomas Graves is known, that of the other immigrants to America from England are not. For John Graves of Concord, MA, it has been speculated that he was born 1619 in Gloucester, England, son of John Graves of Gloucester, who was born 17 Sept. 1581 in Gloucester, and had a total of 3 wives. Another possibility is that he was from the same place as Rev. Peter Bulkley, the pastor of his church in Concord, MA. It is also possible that John Graves was from Kent, England, since many of the early settlers of Concord were.



As a result of DNA analysis, there appear to be two groups of families that share a common ancestor in England. One group includes John Graves of Frederick Co., VA (genealogy 116), Benjamin, Joe and John Graves of Lancashire (genealogy 374), and Thomas Graves of Cambridgeshire (genealogy 683). The other group includes several families of VA, NC, SC & KY (genealogies 13, 106, and 148).



It has long been suspected that Samuel Graves of Lynn, MA (genealogy 83) might have been from King's Lynn, Norfolk. That is based mainly on the supposition that Lynn, MA was named for King's Lynn by one or more of the early settlers. Samuel Graves was born in England, perhaps 1590-1600, and emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in America about 1630. It has now been found that Herbert Fletcher Graves/Greaves of Lincolnshire (genealogy 428) shares a common ancestry with Samuel Graves, confirming the story of Lincolnshire ancestry.


Feel free to suggest other projects that should be included, especially if you would like to help. Contact Ken Graves for more information.