The Seagraves Family in America

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the Original English Family

European Origins of the Family Name: A Thomas de Segrave appears in the Domesday Book as part owner of Segrave in Leicestershire, England upon which a fine of 14 shillings per year was imposed. The Domesday Book was prepared during the period 1066 to 1086 A.D. for William I of England (“William the Conqueror”) as his initial tax role. The “Red Book of the Lordship of Segrave”, published about 1260 is quoted by in “The Segrave Family 1066 to 1935” by Charles W. Segrave, London, 1936, (hereinafter “Segrave Family”).

Thomas seems to have lived past 1100 and is very roughly estimated to have been born in the 1030s, possibly around 1035. According to Segrave Family, Thomas’ son was Hugo de Segrave who died about 1133. The eldest son of Hugo as Lord of Segrave was Hereward who probably died in 1166. Hereward’s son, Gilbert, is shown in the Domesday Book as owning holdings in Leicestershire and other parts of England and required to pay annually for the support one fourth of the cost of a knight. His name implies that he was either born in, or made his primary home in, the village of Segrave, a hamlet about 15 miles north of the City of Leicester in central England. Gilbert seems to have lived past 1200 and is very roughly estimated to have been born in the 1130s. According Segrave Family, Gilbert was a son of Hereward de Segrave, Lord of Segrave, who died in 1066. 'Segrave’ at that time was possibly a manor house with farm lands around it. His name implies that he was either born in, or made his primary home in or near, the village of Segrave.

Gilbert may have been of Anglo-Saxon descent, or possibly even Scandinavian since that part of England had been in the Dane Geld, a region controlled by former Viking Northmen. According to Segrave Family the descendants of Gilbert de Segrave became powerful landowners and nobles, particularly under Henry II up through the late 14th century.

There was a Barony de Segrave until the male line died out when Baron John de Segrave died in 1353 and it passed through marriage to another noble family. During the family’s period of strength, a Baron de Segrave, Nicholas, born 1238, was Chief Justicar of England and Sir Hugh de Segrave, died 1385 was made Treasurer of England in 1381 by King Richard, others in the family held similar powerful posts in that time.

One of the members of this line, Richard Segrave (died 1543) married into a family with substantial land holdings in Ireland. Partly as a result of that a significant branch of the family developed in Ireland through the 16th century.

Some immigrants to America are known to have come from Ireland, descendants of original settlers from England, as well as from England. No one has yet proved any specific connections between the immigrant families in the Americas and their European families of origin. This website is intended to identify as many of the Seagraves who appear in the records in America from Colonial times on to the present. Another website at a later time is intended to show the English and Irish Segrave families.

American Branches of the Family

All of the people in this study are almost certainly related in some way to the original de Segrave family first recorded in the Domesday Book or to people who lived in the Village of Seagrave in Leicestershire.

Up through the early Middle Ages surnames often originated with the name of the town a person was from, hence, a Howard de Segrave could have been just Howard from the village of Segrave with no necessary genealogical link to any family.

No specific links between the American and European branches of the family have yet been verified, regardless of the on-line speculations to the contrary. We do know from records that the majority of the families in America derive from three initial settlements:

the MASSACHUSETTS BRANCH: In about 1727 John Seagrave is said to have sailed from England with his wife, Sarah, and his sons Edward and John and a daughter Sarah. John supposedly died on the voyage but a daughter, Mary, is recorded as baptized in Christ Church, Salem Street in Boston on 25 March 1732 according to the “History of Worcester County, Massachusetts”. John’s eldest son, Edward, sired a large family whose heritage is tied to the Worcester, Massachusetts area and spread from there. The primary source for details about this branch is “Genealogy of the Seagrave Family 1725-1881” by Daniel W. Seagrave, Worcester, MA, 1881.

the NEW JERSEY BRANCH; A William Segraves appears to have been born, possibly in New York or in Cape May County, New Jersey, in the 1660s according to the “Records of Cape May County, New Jersey”. That William may have been the father of a William, born about 1690, who married an Esther (or Hester) Hand Huet in 1715 in Cape May Co., NJ and sired a large family branch. This family spread into Pennsylvania, Indiana and west. Much work on the descendants of this branch is found in “Genealogy of the Seagraves and Sampson Families” 1st and 2nd Editions, by Faye S. Seagraves, Coeur D’Alene, ID, 1969.

the NORTH CAROLINA BRANCH: A Francis Segrave appears in records in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, just to the west of Norfolk, and in Perquimans County, North Carolina, in northeastern North Carolina, in the 1690s. Some of his descendants seem to have settled around Raleigh, North Carolina and eventually moved west into Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee and on to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The North Carolina Branch has had excellent published research for specific portions of that branch. The most significant being: 1. “The Reverend William Segraves and his Descendants” by Savannah Segraves Day, Blacksburg, Virginia, 1989 (Reverend William and many of his descendants lived in Wilkes County, North Carolina); 2. “Segraves/Seagraves; and Related Families of Northeast Georgia” by Myra C. Manley Watkins, privately published, 1993 tracing William “Buck” Segraves and his descendants from Anson County, North Carolina to Madison County, Georgia; and 3. “Descendants of Sherrod Segraves (1808-1893)” by Johnny D. Walker, privately published, Paris, Tennessee, 1983 detailing the descendants of Sherrod Seagraves of Wake and Wilkes counties, North Carolina.

Essentially all members of the family in America descend from one of these three branches and a few other scattered immigrants from Ireland and England later on, particularly a California branch which may have begun with a Samuel Seagrave, Sr. who was born in England about 1837 who came to San Francisco before 1860.

SPELLINGS of the NAME: The family name has been spelled many ways by many clerks and scribes over the years. The earliest spelling clearly originated in or near the small English village of Segrave just north of the City of Leicester in central England. That village name is now spelled Seagrave; however antique maps show it as Segrave as do the original documents referring to the family. It should be remembered that precise spelling was not a concern before the 20th century and most people during that period were illiterate and did not know or care how their name was spelled, just how it sounded. It is not uncommon to see the surname of a particular family living in the same location over many years have their name spelled differently in every census or other record.

The variations encountered range from Cegraves to Zegrafs with the most common current version being Seagraves with Segraves close behind. For this study, all people with a variation of the family name are included using the Seagraves spelling on the theory that they are likely connected in some way and the spelling is likely an artifact of the clerk or scribe who wrote it down. Here is a partial list of some of those spelling variations discovered in the records: Cegraves, Sagrave, Sagraves, Sagrove, Sagroves, Seagrave, Seagraves, Seagreave, Seagreaves, Seagrove, Seagroves, Seegrave, Seegraves, Segrave, Segraves, Segreaves, Segrove, and Segroves. All variations are included under the SEAGRAVES spelling except Sagraves and Seagrave Those two variations have been consistently used by families in Kentucky and Massachusetts, respectively and, for that reason, I have kept using them here. Otherwise people recorded, even consistently, with other spellings will be found under the general family name of Seagraves.

The Life of Francis Segrave, Sr. of Virginia

Each of these North Carolina Seagraves families is almost certainly descended from Francis and Lucretia Segraves of Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Francis and Lucretia and their family first appear in the records of Isle of Wight County, Virginia in 1694, then moved into northeast North Carolina in 1696 where they apparently lived for some years before returning to Virginia. Francis died in Isle of Wight County probably in late 1726 and left a recorded will dated 9 October 1725. One source, “Isle of Wight Deeds, Wills….Great Book” Vol. 2 1715-1726, page 147, describes, in an entry dated 27 Jan 1717, Francis as a "Merchant Tayler". That occupation would explain his travels around the region and lack of significant land ownership.

However, despite this and other early sources, so far serious researchers have found it impossible to accurately document the connection between Francis and the later, better known, Seagraves born in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Virginia and North Carolina. As a result studies such as this one are forced to take the earliest known ancestor in a family line, typically from the early 19th Century and trace that ancestor’s descendants through the generations and migrations that followed.

Since there is no known record of anyone who may have been Francis' father in colonial Virginia, it could be that he arrived alone from Europe in his late teens or early 20s. That time period, if he was born 1665-1670, would be between 1682 and 1692. If it was close to the later date, he could have already been married to Lucretia when he arrived.

There are several other entries in the early Virginia records that may relate to Francis:

According to “Virginia Wills and Administrations 1632-1800”, a Robert Sedgrave (possibly a misspelling or misreading of Seagrave?) recorded an Inventory of Property in 1652 in Northumberland County, Virginia. Northumberland County is on the Chesapeake Bay about 100 miles north of Isle of Wight County where Francis settled.

According to “Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents & Grants 1623-1800”, Amey Seagrasse (spelling?) is listed as transported (probably from England) on 26 Jul 1652 with others to Isle of Wight County, Virginia by Christopher Lewis who received 750 acres for the transportations.

According to the same source, Joane Segrave is listed as one of 80 transported to Virginia prior to 7 Sept. 1654.

These people do not seem to recur in the records, so are difficult to place. Where did they go and were any of them related to Francis?