Graves History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The earliest origins of the name Graves date back to the time of the Anglo-Saxons. The name is derived from the baptismal name Reeve where as a surname it refers to son of Reeve. In Old English, patronyms were formed by adding a variety of suffixes to personal names, which changed over time and from place to place. For example, after the Norman Conquest, sunu and sune, which meant son, were the most common patronymic suffixes. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the most common patronymic names included the word filius, which meant son. By the 14th century, the suffix son had replaced these earlier versions. Surnames that were formed with filius or son were more common in the north of England and it was here that the number of individuals without surnames was greatest at this time. The surname Graves also referred to manager or overseer as an occupational surname.

Alternatively, the name could have originally been a Norman name descending from Walter de Grava (De la Grave) which was found in Normandy before the Conquest and still there as late as 1198. [1]

Early Origins of the Graves family

The surname Graves was first found in Gloucestershire where Osbert de Grava or De la Grave was found in 1203. From this first entry, the Graveses of Mickleton, Gloucester, ancestors of the gallant admiral Lord Graves, and the Baronets Graves-Saule descend. [1]

The source "Testa de Nevill, sive Liber Feodorum" lists Geoffrey de la Grave, Gloucestershire, ( temp. Henry III-Edward I) and the "Placita de Quo Warranto" lists Sibilla de la Grave, Gloucestershire, 20 Edward I (during the 20th year of Edward I's reign.) [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included the following early listings of the family: Edith de la Grava, Oxfordshire; Henry de la Grave, Oxfordshire; Hugh de la Grave, Somerset; and John de la Grave, Wiltshire. [3]

"Greaves, which is a characteristic name of the midland counties, has long been a Worcestershire name. The old family of Greves held some position in the county." [4]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed the following as holding lands there at that time: Johannes Grave; Adam Grayf; Johanna Grayf; and Robertus Grayff. [3]

Early History of the Graves family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Graves research. Another 138 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1200, 1669, 1784, 1600, 1600, 1607, 1604, 1612, 1676, 1602, 1652, 1608, 1680, 1605, 1673, 1677, 1729, 1677, 1715 and 1804 are included under the topic Early Graves History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Graves Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Graves include Grieves, Grieve, Greve, Greves, Greeves, Greaves, Greave, Griveson, Greaveson, Greavson and many more.

Early Notables of the Graves family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Thomas Greaves ( fl. 1604), English musical composer and lutenist to Sir Henry Pierrepont, belonging probably to the Derbyshire family of Greaves; Thomas Greaves (1612-1676), an English Orientalist, a contributor to the London Polyglot; John Greaves (1602-1652), an English mathematician, astronomer and antiquary, eldest son. of the Rev. John Greaves, rector of Colemore, near Alresford in Hampshire; Sir Edward Greaves, 1st Baronet (1608-1680), an English physician...
Another 72 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Graves Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Graves Ranking

In the United States, the name Graves is the 276th most popular surname with an estimated 96,993 people with that name. [5] However, in France, the name Graves is ranked the 7,420th most popular surname with an estimated 1,000 - 1,500 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Graves family to Ireland

Some of the Graves family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Graves migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Graves or a variant listed above:

Graves Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Graves, who settled in Virginia in 1607
  • Captain Thomas Graves, who traveled on the first ship to Jamestown, Virginia in 1607
  • George Graves, who landed in Jamestown, Va in 1624 [7]
  • Richard Graves, aged 23, settled in New England in 1635
  • Samuel Graves, who arrived in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1635 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Graves Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Ellinor Graves, who landed in Virginia in 1702 [7]
  • Ellmor Graves, who arrived in Virginia in 1702 [7]
  • William Graves, who arrived in Maryland in 1740 [7]
  • Matthew Graves, who arrived in New England in 1747 [7]
  • James Graves, who arrived in America in 1764 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Graves Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Capt. Graves, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811 [7]
  • Thomas Graves, who landed in America in 1812 [7]
  • A. Graves, aged 50, settled in New York in 1820
  • Robert Graves, who landed in New York in 1825 [7]
  • Alexander Graves, who arrived in New York, NY in 1834 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Graves migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Graves Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Edward Graves U.E. who settled in Shefford Township, Eastern Townships, Quebec c. 1784 he was an associate of Capt. John Savage [8]
Graves Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Peter Graves, who arrived in Canada in 1841
  • Mrs. Margaret Graves, aged 34 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Larch" departing 11th July 1847 from Sligo, Ireland; the ship arrived on 20th August 1847 but she died on board [9]
  • Mr. Michael Graves, aged 2 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "New York Packet" departing 14th April 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 29th June 1847 but he died on board [9]

Australia Graves migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Graves Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Graves, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Mr. Thomas Graves, British Convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 14 years for coining, transported aboard the "Caledonia" on 5th July 1820, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [11]
  • Mr. James Graves, English convict who was convicted in Hythe, Kent, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Camden" on 21st September 1832, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Henry James Graves, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on February 22, 1834, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [13]
  • Ann Graves, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Winchester" in 1838 [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Graves migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Graves Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mary Ann Graves, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Empress" in 1865
  • Sarah Graves, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rob Roy" in 1865
  • Sarah Jane Graves, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rob Roy" in 1865
  • Frederick Graves, aged 16, a labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Edward P Bouverie" in 1873
  • Sarah Graves, aged 38, a servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Edward P Bouverie" in 1873
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Graves migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [15]
Graves Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mary Graves, who settled in Barbados in 1679

Contemporary Notables of the name Graves (post 1700) +

  • Peter Graves (1926-2010), born Peter Aurness, American film and television actor best known for his starring role in the television series Mission: Impossible, younger brother of James Arness, star of the television series Gunsmoke
  • Milford Graves (1941-2021), American jazz drummer, percussionist, Professor Emeritus of Music
  • Earl Gilbert Graves Sr. (1935-2020), American entrepreneur, publisher, businessman and philanthropist
  • Thomas Ashley Graves Jr. (1924-2016), American academic, 23rd President of the College of William & Mary (1971-1985)
  • Samuel Ray Graves (1918-2015), American college and professional football player and college football coach, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990
  • Michael Graves (1934-2015), American architect, one of The New York Five, ad one of the Memphis Group
  • John Graves (1920-2013), American writer, best known for his book Goodbye to a River (1960) that was nominated for a National Book Award
  • Brigadier-General Davis Dunbar Graves (1903-1945), American Commanding Officer Figther Wing, US North Africa Theater of Operations (1943-1944) [16]
  • Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Ora Graves (1896-1961), American sailor awarded the Medal of Honor
  • Second Lieutenant Terrence Collinson Graves (1945-1968), United States Marine posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor
  • ... (Another 10 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. Noah  Graves (1858-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who survived the explosion but later died due to injuries [17]
  • Miss Helen  Graves (1914-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [17]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. John R Graves (b. 1915), English Lieutenant (S) serving for the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve from Wickford, Essex, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [18]

The Graves Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Spes mea in Deo
Motto Translation: My hope is in God.

Suggested Readings for the name Graves +

  • Benton-Graves Ancestry by Blanche Benton Heller.
  • Branching Out from Stephen Graves: (1759-1828) by Jessie Wagner Graves.

  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Testa de Nevill or "Liber Feodorum" or "Book of Fees," thought to have been written by Ralph de Nevill, for King John (1199–1216)
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  9. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 78)
  10. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Almorah voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1817 with 180 passengers. Retrieved from
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 2nd December 2020). Retrieved from
  13. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1834 with 230 passengers. Retrieved from
  14. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) WINCHESTER 1838. Retrieved from
  15. ^
  16. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 11) Davis Graves. Retrieved from
  17. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from
  18. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from on Facebook
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