The Seagraves Family

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The Original English Family and 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 [rent] 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 a discussion of the family lawsuits engendered by the trial over lands belonging to the sons of Gilbert de Segrave: Stephen Segrave and Thomas Fitzgilbert, and is quoted frequently in “The Segrave Family 1066 to 1935” by Charles W. Segrave, London, 1936, (hereinafter “the Segrave Family”) which is a comprehensive study of the Segrave family as descended from that Thomas de Segrave.

There is no official record of which we are aware of that mentions any person with a surname reasonably similar to Segrave before the Domesday Book, suggestions to the contrary of a Norman arriving with William the Conqueror in 1066 who was given the lands around the village of Segrave and adopted the name have not been proven with any reliable source document.   The only source that mentions an earlier origin is "Genealogy of the Seagrave Family, from 1725-1881" by Daniel Seagrave, Worcester, MA, 1881.  That book is a detailed study of the Massachusetts Branch of the family as descended from John and Sarah Seagrave who landed in Boston sometime about or after 1725.  Specifically, Appendix B of that book which says "Members of this family came with Cerdec to England, A. D. 519 and settled in and about Hampshire and Leicestershire." [Unfortunately, that book gives no reference for the statement and a recent internet search found no reference to a "Cerdec" in early 6th century English history.]  No other family genealogy except the "Genealogy of the Seagraves Sampson and Kindred Lines", first and second editions by Faye S. Seagraves, privately printed in 1983 which includes the following sentence beginning the Introductory Chapter: "The family of Seagraves has an honored ancestry and their history may be traced back to England  A. D. 519."  Faye gave no source for that comment, but it must have come from Daniel Seagrave's book.  If anyone reading this has any information related to this item, please let us know.

According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia online there apparently was a Cerdic who reigned from 519 to 534 A. D. in Wessex [in southern England]  and was the founder of Wessex.  It goes on to say: "Historian John Morris made many claims that have been criticized by historians but is quite often accurate when describing the sources one must rely on." Regarding The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, he writes: "The early West Saxon entries in the Saxon Chronicle are exceptionally confused, duplicated under different dates and, at first sight, contradictory. The confusion has a special cause. The easier ambiguities of the Kent and Sussex annals are the consequences of fading memory and of tradition ill-understood; but the Wessex entries are the deliberate contrivance of ninth-century scholars, devised to serve the political needs of their own day."  Since none of the original 'histories' mention any family names (which were not widely used before the early Middle Ages), it is not possible to trace any Segrave ancestors back to that period.

Thomas de Segrave seems to have lived past 1100 and is very roughly estimated to have been born in the mid-1000s, possibly, as a guess, around 1040. According to the 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 de Segrave, 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, or near, the village of Segrave, a hamlet about 15 miles north of the City of Leicester in central England. 

Gilbert de Segrave seems to have lived past 1200 and is very roughly estimated to have been born in the 1130's. According to the 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.  The Manor of Segrave has been tentatively located by archaeologists as being just on the south edge of the current village.  According to the Segrave Family the descendants of Gilbert de Segrave, great grandson of Thomas, became powerful landowners and nobles, particularly under Henry II up through the late 14th century.

Thomas de Segrave may have been of Anglo-Saxon descent, or possibly even Scandinavian, even though Thomas is more likely an Anglo-Saxon name.  However, since that part of England had been in the Dane Geld, a region controlled by former Viking North-men through most of the ninth and tenth centuries, he could have been of Viking descent.  The Geld was an annual tribute given to the North-men by the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in the southern part of England to pay them not to raid or invade Anglo-Saxon lands. 

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 Segrave family’s period of strength, a Baron de Segrave, Nicholas, born 1238, was Chief Justicar of England (equivalent to the modern post of Prime Minister) and his grandson, Sir Hugh de Segrave, died 1385, was made Treasurer of England in 1381 by King Richard I.  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 those original settlers from England, as well as from England at later times. No one has yet proved any specific connections between the original 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 and includes members of the English and Irish Segrave families who are represented in available records.

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