CAPTAIN THOMAS GRAVES
Contributed by Michael Graves
CAPTAIN THOMAS GRAVES
1608 Settler of Jamestown, Virginia,
and His Descendants (ca. 1580-2005)
Thomas Graves (1), gentleman, arrived in Virginia in October of 1608, coming from England in the ship "Mary and Margaret" with Captain Christopher Newport's second supply. Although John Card Graves states that Thomas was accompanied by his wife Katherine, sons John and Thomas, and eight others, including Henry Singleton and Thomas Edge, most other historians agree that he did not bring his wife and children over until later. It is likely that he did not even marry Katherine until 1610, and his first child was born about 1611.
Thomas Graves was one of the original Adventurers (stockholders) of the Virginia Company of London, and one of the very early Planters (settlers) who founded Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America. He was also the first known person named Graves in North America. Captain Thomas Graves is listed as one of the original Adventurers as "Thomas Grave" on page 364, Records of the Virginia Company of London, vol. IV. Although the Records of the Virginia Company state that in 1622 was granted "a patent to Thomas Graves of Doublin in the Realm of Ireland, gent." this may be a clerical error. As stated in the original charter of the Virginia Co. of London, the first Adventurers to Virginia were to be from the city of London.
King James I of England, on April 10, 1606, granted letters patent (charter) to Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Somers, Richard Hakluyt, Edward-Maria Winfield, Thomas Hanham, Raleigh Gilbert, William Parker, and George Popham, in whose names the petition for the charter to the Virginia Company of London had been made, for the founding of two colonies in Virginia.
In 1606 the name Virginia designated the North American coast north of Spanish Florida. The First Colony was to "begin their first plantation and place of their first sojourning and dwelling in any place along the aforesaid coast of Virginia or America where they thought it suitable and convenient, between the aforesaid thirty-four and forty-one degrees of the aforesaid latitude." The Second Colony was to locate at some point between thirty-eight degrees and forty-five degrees of northern latitude. (Rec. Va. Co., vol. IV, p. 368)
The First Colony (consisting of knights, gentlemen, merchants and others of the city of London) made a settlement at Jamestown on May 13, 1607, which became permanent. The Plymouth grantees (from the English cities of Bristol and Exeter, the town of Plymouth, and other places) established the Second Colony at Sagadagic (on the coast of what became Maine) in August 1607, but abandoned it in the spring of 1608.
On May 13, 1607, Captain Christopher Newport's fleet of three small ships, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery, with 105 colonists, reached the site of this first permanent English settlement, and called it James Towne. Captain Newport returned to Jamestown on Jan. 8, 1608 with the first supply in the John and Francis. The Phoenix, commanded by Captain Francis Nelson, which had sailed as part of the first supply, finally arrived on 20 April 1608. More than half the settlers died that first winter.
Captain Newport sailed again for England and arrived at Blackwell May 21, 1608. Capt. Nelson returned to England in the Phoenix early in July 1608, with requests from Virginia to be sent by the second supply. Capt. Newport left England in the Mary and Margaret, a ship of about 150 tons, with the second supply, probably in August of 1608. Many sources give the arrival date of this second supply as being early in October 1608. We do know that it was after Sept. 10, 1608.
A comparatively complete record, with the names, of the little band of first planters who came in 1607 and the two supplies of 1608 is given by Captain John Smith in his Historie. These three expeditions brought a total of about 295 people -- the first settlers numbering about 105, the first supply 120, and the second supply about 70. Of the whole number, 92 are described as "gentlemen."
Regarding the title of "Captain" which is attached to Thomas Graves in Virginia historical records, he had no such designation in the Charter of 1609 wherein all the Adventurers (stockholders) of the Virginia Company are listed, and is shown by Captain John Smith on his arrival in Virginia simply as "Thomas Graves, Gent." Thus it appears that he acquired the title of Captain after arriving in Virginia.
Thomas Graves early became active in the affairs of the infant colony. On an exploring expedition he was captured by the Indians and taken to Opechancanough. Thomas Savage, who had come to Virginia with the first supply on the John and Francis in 1608, was sent to rescue him, in which he was successful.
The winter of 1608-09 was much better than the previous winter, but soon after Capt. John Smith returned to England for medical treatment in October 1609, the "Starving Time" reduced the population of about 500 to no more than sixty men, women, and children. In June of 1610, the survivors were in the process of abandoning the settlement, when Lord Delaware arrived as governor of the colony. From that time on, there was apparently no further serious thought of abandoning the town. However, even by 1616, the colony had a total population of only 351, of whom 81 were farmers or tenants.
In 1617 the Virginia Company, hoping to expand population and agricultural production in the colony, encouraged private or voluntary associations organized on a joint stock basis to establish settlements in the area of the Company's patent. The Society of Smith's (or Smythe's) Hundred (later called Southampton Hundred) was organized in 1617. In addition to Captain Thomas Graves, the Adventurers included Sir Thomas Smith, Sir Edwin Sandy’s, and the Earl of Southampton. Soon after April 29, 1619, Governor Yeardley wrote to Sir Edwin Sandys: "I have entreated Capt. Graves, an antient officer of this company, to take charge of the people and workes."
Capt. Thomas Graves was a member of the First Legislative Assembly in America, and, with Mr. Walter Shelley, sat for Smythe's Hundred when they met at Jamestown on July 30, 1619. The time of Capt. Thomas Graves' removal to the Eastern Shore is not known. It was, however, after August 1619, since he was then a representative from Smythe's Hundred to the first meeting of the House of Burgesses. It was also prior to Feb. 16, 1623, for "A List of Names: of the Living in Virginia, Feb. 16, 1623" shows Thomas Graves "at the Eastern Shore". His patent for 200 acres on the Eastern Shore is of record 14 March 1628 (Patent Book No. 1, p. 72, Land Registrar's Office, Richmond, Va.). This land was in what was then known as Accomack, now a part of Northampton Co. It was granted by Dr. Thomas Pott, Governor of Virginia, and was on the eastern side of the Bay of Chesapeake, westerly of the lands of Capt. Henry Flute, an explorer of the Bay, "by virtue of the adventure of five and twenty pounds paid by the said Capt. Thomas Graves to Sir Thomas Smyth, Treasurer of the Virginia Company." He paid a "quit rent" of one shilling for fifty acres, payable at the feast of St. Michael the Archangel (Sept. 29) each year on a part of his land.
In the census of February 1625, Capt. Thomas Graves was one of only 51 people then living on the Eastern Shore. He was put in charge of the direction of local affairs later in 1625. In Sept. 1632 he, with others, was appointed a Commissioner "for the Plantacon of Acchawmacke". He was one of the Burgesses to the Assembly, representing Accomac, for the 1629-30 session and the 1632 session. He attended many of the meetings of the Commissioners, but he was absent from Dec. 30, 1632/3 until Oct. 23, 1633/4. It appears that he was out of the country.
The old Hungars Episcopal Church is located about seven miles north of Eastville, on the north side of Hungars Creek. Hungars Parish was made soon after the county was established, and the first minister was Rev. Francis Bolton, who was succeeded by Rev. William Cotton. The first vestry was appointed in 1635. The first vestry meeting was on Sept. 29, 1635, at which Capt. Thomas Graves headed the list of those present. The first church edifice was erected in 1690-95 and was still standing around 1900, one of the oldest churches in the country. In addition to Capt. Thomas Graves, the other persons named by the court as vestrymen of Hungars Church were William Cotton, minister, Obedience Robins, John Howe, William Stone (first Protestant Governor of Maryland), William Burdett, William Andrews, John Wilkins, Alexander Mountray, Edward Drews, William Beniman and Stephen Charlton.
Captain Thomas Graves died between November 1635 when he was witness to a deed and 5 Jan. 1636 when suit was entered against a servant to Mrs. Graves (Adventurers of Purse and Person, pp. 188-189). His birth date is not known, but is believed to be about 1580. That would have made him only about 55 years of age at his death.
Very little is known about Katherine, wife of Capt. Thomas Graves. Her maiden name may have been Croshaw. (There was a Raleigh Chroshaw, Gent., who arrived with the second supply with Thomas Graves.) Just when she came to Virginia is not recorded. She and her children are not included in the 1625 census of the Eastern Shore, although Capt. Thomas Graves is. The patent granted to John Graves (son of Capt. Thomas Graves) on Aug. 9, 1637 states that the 600 acres granted to him in Elizabeth City was "due in right of descent from his father Thomas Graves, who transported at his own cost himself, Katherine Graves his wife, John Graves the patentee, and Thomas Graves, Jr., and 8 persons." (Cavaliers and Pioneers, Nugent.) The 50 acres assigned for each person transported shows they came after 1616. The other 8 persons transported did not include any members of Capt. Graves' family. The girls, Ann, Verlinda, and Katherine obviously came later, and Francis was born in Virginia. The last reference to Mrs. Graves shows her living at the Old Plantation, Accomac, as of May 20, 1636.
Since Captain Thomas Graves had been active in the affairs of Virginia from his arrival, the absence of any mention of him during certain periods indicate he had returned to England. This is also confirmed by patents issued to him and to others in which he is mentioned. Mrs. Hiden stated: "Even a cursory reading of Northampton (formerly Accomack) records reveals how frequent were the trips to England, Ireland, Holland, and New England" of those living on the Eastern Shore. Mrs. Hiden also stated (R-909, p. 34): "We know from the land patents that Capt. Thomas Graves made several trips out of the country, to England presumably, and on one of his return voyages his family accompanied him."
Thomas Graves was probably unmarried when he arrived in Virginia in 1608. He was young, and adventure was probably the reason for his coming to Virginia. He was obviously educated, of some "social status" and financial means, and a leader.
It is likely that he returned to England, possibly in Oct. 1609, either on the same ship with Captain John Smith (who left Virginia for England for treatment of his wounds resulting from an explosion), or on one of the other seven ships which arrived in Virginia in August 1609. In that way he would have missed the "Starving Time" of the winter of 1609-10, which so few survived.
He may have then married in England in about 1610, fathered John Graves and Thomas Graves, remained in England for several years, and returned to Virginia prior to the formation of Smythe's Hundred in 1617, or possibly a little later. It is known that he was "entreated to take charge of the people and workes" at Smythe's Hundred in April 1619, and was there then.
Also, there is no record of his being in Virginia after the meeting of the Burgesses in July-August of 1619 until he is shown as living on the Eastern Shore in 1623. It seems reasonable that he was in England at the time of the Indian Massacre of March 1622, and upon returning to Virginia settled on the Eastern Shore where it was less perilous to live. The fact that he fathered three children, the girls, during this period certainly lends support to his being in England. (R-14, R-901, R-915)
Children - Graves
Click here for the 1628 land patent to Thomas Graves
+2. John Graves, b.c. 1611, m. ------ Perrin, c. 1624 or later, d.c. April 1640.
+3. Thomas Graves, b.c. 1616, wife unknown, d.c. 1674.
+4. Verlinda Graves, b.c. 1618, m. William Stone, d. 13 July 1675.
+5. Ann Graves, b.c. 1620, m(1) William Cotton, before 10 July 1637, m(2) Nathaniel Eaton, by 1642, m(3) Francis Doughty, 8 June 1657, d. 2 March 1683/4.
+6. Katherine Graves, b.c. 1622, m(1) William Roper, c. 1636, m(2) Thomas Sprigg, 3 March 1650.
+7. Francis Graves, b.c. 1630, m(1) ------, m(2) Jane Maguffey, d.c. 1691.