The Massachusetts Settlement
Essentially all members of the Seagraves family in the United States descend from one of three settlements begun by early colonists: 1. The MASSACHUSETTS SETTLEMENT, 2. The NEW JERSEY SETTLEMENT, and 3. The NORTH CAROLINA SETTLEMENT. Each settlement produced a significant line of descendants, some well documented. The MASSACHUSETTS SETTLEMENT was chronicled in “The Genealogy of the Seagrave Family from 1725-1881” by Daniel Seagrave, Worcester, Massachusetts, 1881.
That book describes in its Introduction: “The first family bearing the name of SEAGRAVE, emigrating to America, it is conjectured, came from Leicestershire and adjacent counties in England, in the early part of the last century, probably between the years 1725 and 1730. There is no documentary record extant, which has come to the knowledge of the compiler [Daniel Seagrave], of the exact year of their emigration; neither can the connecting link between the families of England and those of America be made with any degree of certainty, on account of the absence of early records and data.”
Here, the author, Daniel Seagrave, about 140 years ago, was singing our song. While he was wrong about the Massachusetts family being the first Seagrave(s) family in America [Francis Segrave was recorded in Isle of Wight County, Virginia by the early 1690's and William Seagrave was recorded in New York and New Jersey before 1700], Daniel was right about the basic problem- no surviving records. Even with our high-technology world today, we cannot create facts from thin air.
Daniel's determination that there was a family connection with the name in England was that there was “frequent similarity of the Christian or given names, such as Edward, John, William, etc., from a very early date.” This is logical, but ignores the similar use of names among the Irish Seagrave families. However, in those days, being of Irish descent was not considered as popular as an English heritage. Still, he may have been correct. England was the seat of origin of the family name as far as we can tell, and it is more likely that a member of an English family would have embarked on a voyage to America in that era.
Daniel goes on to say:“With reference to their emigration to America, a tradition extant is, that originally two brothers came to this country from England that one settled in New England and the other in the “Jerseys.” If this tradition refers to one of the brothers, whose family landed in Boston, Massachusetts, and from whom the living families have descended, there can be no doubt but that his name was John.”
Daniel was apparently aware of the Seagraves families living in New Jersey during his studies. We describe them in a separate section. No surviving records show a clear link between the Massachusetts families and the New Jersey ones, so we consider them separate. We would be pleased to see records that prove otherwise.
From there Daniel gives us more detail on the early Massachusetts family:“Another tradition is, that the widow, Sarah Seagrave, and four children, named respectively, Edward, John, Sarah and Mary, landed in Boston, and that the husband and father died on the passage from England. This latter tradition was narrated to the compiler [Daniel] by a great-granddaughter of Sarah Seagrave, the mother of Capt. Edward Seagrave, who died in 1786, when the narrator was seven years of age; and the same tradition must also have been repeated to her by her grandfather, Capt. Edward Seagrave, who died in 1793.” Daniel obviously believes that oral tradition since he then says: “This tradition is without doubt true, for no record is found of John Seagrave ever having lived or died in Boston, while mention is made of his widow, Sarah Seagrave, who was a resident of Boston, as late as 1774, and possibly 1776. There can be no question but that her husband’s name was John, for there is a record of the baptism of ‘Mary, daughter of John and Sarah Seagrave, March 25, 1732,’ in the clerk’s book of Christ’s Church, Salem St., Boston; this fact would settle the name of our ancestor.” The last reference suggests that John Seagrave, if he was the father of Mary, was alive until late July 1731, but we have not found any evidence of his death or burial in Boston, either.
Daniel goes on to record the descendants of John & Sarah Seagrave, of whom their son, Captain Edward Seagrave, born about 1722 in England, who served actively in the Revolutionary War as an officer in the Massachusetts Militia and settled in the town of Uxbridge, Worcester County, Massachusetts as a farmer, was the patriarch of a large family of descendants. We have attempted to include all of those descendants of John & Sarah in this website. That family has consistently used the Seagrave spelling of the family name so are listed here under that spelling of the name rather than the more generic Americanized Seagraves as we have done for the descendants of other early settlers.
One other note of interest in Daniel’s Introduction is the following comment:“The family Seagrave have an honored ancestry, and their history may be traced back in England to A. D. 519. Some of them were created Lords and Peers, and in accordance with the prevailing custom, they bore coats of arms.” Daniel gives no source for that date of 519 and it is not supported by other subsequent research. A member of the English family, Charles William Segrave, who wrote “The Segrave Family 1066-1935” a most authoritative work on the English and Irish families, does not claim known ancestry before 1066.