Rev. 14 June 2011, Gen. 131







Thomas Graves (1) may have been born about 1585.  He was from Gravesend, Co. Kent, England.  He was an engineer and city planner, laying out Charlestown and other towns in New England, but probably returned to England.  He was probably born perhaps 1585, and had a wife and 5 children in 1629 when he signed a contract with the Massachusetts Bay Company.

This Thomas Graves has sometimes been confused with Rear Admiral Thomas Graves of Ratcliff and Stepney, England, who settled in Charlestown, MA, and died in 1653 in a sea battle with the Dutch in the English Channel.  Thomas Graves, the engineer was of Gravesend, County of Kent, England, signed a contract with the Massachusetts Bay Company on 10 March 1628/9, arrived in New England in July 1629, and laid out Charlestown.  Thomas Graves, the engineer, was clearly not the same as Rear Admiral Thomas Graves.  In 1629 the engineer already had an impressive reputation for engineering, had traveled extensively, and had a wife and five children.  He was older than the 24 years of age that the Rear Admiral was at that time.  In addition, the signature of the Rear Admiral from his will, and that of the engineer from his contract, as shown below, are different (from History of Charlestown, page 140, by.Richard Frothingham).


Thomas Graves apparently went to Salem, MA in 1629 with Higginson.  (It is interesting to note that the Thomas Graves who later became Rear Admiral was apparently masterŐs mate of the Talbot, which brought Higginson and Thomas Graves the engineer to Salem in 1629, and that he was master of various vessels both before and after that.)  He was made a freeman 18 May 1631, and his property was listed as included in Cambridge (land now known as Lechmere Point) on 6 March 1632/3.  In his contract, he asked to have the Mass. Bay Co. pay costs of transporting his wife, 5 children, and 2 servants, but there is no record of their actually arriving in the colony.  The names of his wife and children are not known.

Since Thomas Graves does not appear in the list of inhabitants of Charlestown on 9 Jan. 1633/4, nor in the various grants of land in the years immediately following, it is believed that he departed from Charlestown (and from New England) sometime during 1633.  He may have been the Thomas Graves who was one of the committee to lay out the town of Woburn in 1640, and one of the first town officers there; however, the will of Rear Admiral Thomas Graves seems to indicate he and not the engineer was the one who owned land in Woburn.


It has been suggested that Thomas Graves, the engineer, went to Charlestown, moved to Boston, was involved with the unsuccessful settlement in the Bahamas, may have returned to Nahant (see genealogy 213) and been followed by his two daughters, and then may have returned to England or possibly moved to Delaware (see genealogy 85).  A problem with linking the engineer with either genealogy 85 or 213 is that, based on the probable ages of their children, the Thomas of 213 may have been born about 1610 and the one of 85 may not have been born until about 1650.

Another interesting speculation involves the similarity of date of birth and number of children between Thomas Graves, the engineer, and the Thomas Graves who settled in Hartford, CT in 1645 (genealogy 168).  They certainly could have been the same person.


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