Select Graves Miscellany

Here are some Graves stories and accounts over the years:

Possible Graves Origin

According to volume one of John Card Graves’ Genealogy of the Graves Family in America, the Graves family were among the most ancient in England.  They were initially de Grava and arrived at the time of the Norman Conquest, settling in Yorkshire.  John de Grevis was in the army of King John.  His great grandson was Thomas de les Greves.  Their family seat was at Beeley in northern Derbyshire in the mid-13th century.  

A more identifiable forebear of the Graves family of Yorkshire and Mickleton was John Graves of Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire in the 1470's.

Graves in the 1881 Census


Robert Graves, Medical Innovator

Robert Graves was a leader of the Dublin school of diagnosis which emphasized clinical observation of patients.  Born in Dublin, he came from the Limerick branch of the Graves family, his great grandfather having served as the High Sheriff of Limerick in 1720.  Later Graves of his line were distinguished clergymen and scholars, from the Rev. James Graves to Robert’s own father Dean Richard Graves, the author of Graves on the Pentateuch and one of the best preachers of Dublin in his timeRobert was his eighth born child.

In 1821 he was appointed physician to the Meath Hospital in Dublin. The work he undertook at the hospital brought the Meath Hospital international renown.  He introduced at that time what he called “bedsides teaching.”

"Mere walking the hospital must go.  The Edinburgh system, in which the teacher interrogates the patient in a loud voice, the clerk repeats the patients' answer in a similar voice, the crowd of students round the bed, most of whom cannot see the patient, hears all this and makes notes, is of no use. Students must examine patients for themselves under the guidance of their teachers, they must make suggestions as to diagnosis, morbid anatomy and treatment to their teacher who will discuss the cases with them.”

Graves showed the qualities which would make him a great teacher.  He was tall, somewhat swarthy with a vivacious manner, and, like other avant-garde professors of his time, he gave his lectures in English rather than in Latin.

Among the innovations he introduced in his lectures was the timing of the pulse by watch.  But he failed to patent the invention of having the hand denoting seconds fixed onto a watch. Instead a Dublin firm of watchmakers to whom he had casually prescribed this device for his own personal assistance made a fortune out of selling watches with second hands all over the world.

Robert Graves died in 1853.  A statue of him was erected in Dublin in 1878.

Richard Graves's Troubles in Salem, Massachusetts

Richard Graves, aged 23, came to Massachusetts on the Abigail, arriving in 1635.  He settled at Salem and was a proprietor there in 1637.  However, he soon got into trouble with the Puritan authorities of the town.  The following were some early escapades of his:

  • in December 1638 he was sentenced to sit in the stocks for beating Peter Busgutt in his own house. 
  • in 1641 he was brought into court again.  William Allen testified that "he had heard Rich Graves kissed Goody Gent twice."  Richard confessed that it was true.  For this unseemly conduct was sentenced to be fined and whipped.   
  • sometime in the late 1640’s Richard Graves went to Boston and got drunk in Charlestown.  He was mulct by the quarterly court. 
  • a month later, there was a complaint against him for playing shuffle-board, described as “a wicked game of chance,” at a tavern in Salem.  But this time he escaped the vengeance of the law as the case against him was not proved.  
He was a pewterer by trade, making pewter lamps and candlesticks.  He was still pursuing his trade in 1665. It was said that “sometime between that date and 1669 he passed out of the reach of the courts to that bourne from which no pewterers ever return."

The Gravestone of John Sebastian Graves

The gravestone is inscribed as follows:

“John Sebastian Graves, 1703-1804. 

Born in Germany and christened as Johann Sebastian Graff, sailing from Rotterdam on the Alexander and Ann, arriving at Philadelphia September 5, 1730, he settled in Berks County, Pennsylvania and moved to Orange (now Almance) county, North Carolina about 1757.

Being a member of the Regulators, he fought at the Battle of Alamance in 1771.  He moved to what is now Union county, Tennessee about 1800.  His remains were removed by the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) to this site in 1935.”

The reason the marker was moved by the TVA was that the Norris Dam was built in 1935 and flooded the valley.

George Graves, Loyalist in America

Peter Coldham in his book American Migrations 1765-1799 mentioned a Captain Adam Graves and his brother Lieutenant George Graves.  They were Loyalists from Maryland who were imprisoned and had escaped to New York.  George was supposed to have crossed the border to Canada.  Peter’s account read as follows:

“The Graves brothers, Adam and George, were natives of Germany who had emigrated to America many years ago and were freeholders in Frederick county, Maryland.   Adam was commissioned a captain in 1779 and appointed George as his lieutenant.  Together they went about making recruits to the British army on a promise of three guineas bounty, pay and clothing, and 150 acres each on the conclusion of the war.

Being Loyalist officers they were condemned to die for enlisting men to the British cause.  After being in jail for seven weeks in irons, they were reprieved on condition of being transported to France aboard a French warship.  But then they were imprisoned in the hold of the Romulus, a former English man-of-war, on York river for three months before they managed to escape to New York. They were awarded a free passage to England and sailed on 10 September 1783.”

George Graves apparently did make it from there to Canada.  He was granted land in Pittsburgh township near Kingston in eastern Ontario in 1797 and was recorded as living there in 1803.

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