Abraham Greaves

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Abraham Greaves
Person Abraham Greaves
First name Abraham
Middle name(s)
Last name Greaves
Spouse of
Widow of
Occupation Shipwright
Secondary shorebased occupation
Mariner occupation
Associated with ship(s)
Training Not apprentice
Is apprentice of
Was apprentice of
Had apprentice(s)
Citizen Unknown
Literacy Signature
Has opening text Abraham Graves
Has signoff text Abraham Greaves
Signoff image (Invalid transcription image)
Language skills English language
Has interpreter
Birth street
Birth parish
Birth town
Birth county
Birth province
Birth country
Res street Limehouse
Res parish Stepney
Res town
Res county
Res province
Res country England
Birth year 1616
Marriage year
Death year
Probate date
First deposition age
Primary sources
Act book start page(s)
Personal answer start page(s)
Allegation start page(s)
Interrogatories page(s)
Deposition start page(s) HCA 13/71 f.478r Annotate, HCA 13/72 f.459v Annotate
Chancery start page(s)
Letter start page(s)
Miscellaneous start page(s)
Act book date(s)
Personal answer date(s)
Allegation date(s)
Interrogatories date(s)
Deposition date(s) Feb 13 1657, Aug 13 1658
How complete is this biography?
Has infobox completed Yes
Has synthesis completed No
Has HCA evidence completed No
Has source comment completed No
Ship classification
Type of ship Shore based trade
Silver Ship litigation in 1650s
Role in Silver Ship litigation None

Biographical synthesis

Abraham Greaves (alt. Graves, Mr Abraham Graves) (b. ca. 1614; d. ?1689). Shipwright.

An online genealogical source gives Abraham Greaves' date of birth as Jan 13th 1616/17, and lists three marriages, firstly to Elizabeth, and secondly, in September 1654, to Mary Wallace, and thirdly to Sarah. According to this source, Mary Wallace was the daughter of Martin Wallace (or Walker), a merchant tailor of Cornhill. She died a year after their marriage.[1] The marriage to third wife Sarah took place between 1655 and 1659.

Abraham Greaves's third wife, Sarah, was the widow of Captain John Jefferson, who was master and partowner of the 440 ton ship the Thomas and William. Abraham Greaves is listed as co-defendant in a case involving the deceased John Jefferson, together with Sarah Greaves, Abraham's wife, who is described as Jefferson's widow.[2]

Resident in 1657 and 1658 in Limehouse in the parish of Stepney.

One of the younger sons of Limehouse shipwright John Greaves (alt. Graves) (b. ?; d. ca. 1637) and younger brother of Limehouse shipwright William Greaves or Graves (b. ?; d. ca. 1668).[3] Abraham Greaves' ship yard was located near Dickshore in Limehouse. The will of his father, the shipwright John Greaves or Graves mentions his "dock, wharf, yard and crane lying near to Dickshore".[4]

Had dock near Dickshore. The location of Abraham Greaves' dock is confirmed in the Admiralty Court testimony of Thomas Blackman, master's mate of the ship the Pilgrim, from Ratcliff in Stepney, who states that "the Pilgrim was put into the dock to be repaired and ameded of the hurt shee received by the Exeter Merchant falling fowle of her and forcing her on ground and thereby bringeing her as aforesayd, and hee this deponent helped to put her into the sayd dock being the dock of one Mr Graves neere dicks shoare by the order of James Watkins the master and one of the owners of the Pilgrim".[5]

An online genealogical resource suggests that Abraham Graves was born in 1616 or 1617 in Limehouse and was the ninth child of John Greaves (b. 1560, Walley, Lancashire; m. 1597, Ratcliffe, Middlesex; d. 1637) and Sarah Malter (b. abt 1568, Stepney, Middlesex; d. 1643).[6]

The will of Abraham Greaves, gentleman of Stepney, was proved on June 3rd 1689.[7]

G.W. Hill, W.H. Frere (1890-91) note the appearance of the shipwright John Graves in the vestry minutes for the Stepney parish church, with his last appearance in an entry dated Tuesday May 9th 1637. In this entry "Mr. John Greaves" was one of five people appointed to resurvey the accounts of the Churchwardens. G.W. Hill, W.H. Frere (1890-91) state that John Graves' first wife Sarah Chester died within a few months of their marriage, and that he shortly afterwards married Susan Hoxton, on June 24th 1624. He made a third marriage to Mary Raymond on May 18th 1630.[8]

A William Greaves or Graves appears in the Stepney vestry minutes for March 28th 1654. G.W. Hill, W.H. Frere (1890-91) state that William Greaves or Graves was the son of John Graves, and was a master shipbuilder. They write that "at his works at Limehouse he, in company with Peter Pett and others, was constantly employed in building ships for the navy. He was buried February 22, 1667".[9]

"Mr Abraham Graves" (later as "Abraham Greaves") himself first appears in the Stepney vestry minutes as an elected Churchwarden for Limehouse.[10]

Evidence from High Court of Admiralty

Forty year old Abraham Graves deposed on February 13th 1657 in the High Court of Admiralty. He was examined on an allegation on behalf of Hatton and Company in the case "Hatton ffoote and Company owners of the Exeter Merchant against the ffrancis and Mary and against Smith Beake and Company".[11]

Forty-four year old Abraham Greaves deposed on August 13th 1658 in the High Court of Admiralty. He was examined on an allegation in the case of "Bland Bathurst and Company against the Exeter Merchant and against Woodfin and company".[12]

Abraham Graves stated that he knew the ship the Pilgrim (Master: James Watkins) and that in 1655 he had had the ship in his dock in Limehouse. Graves installed a "new navell hoode" and did other repairs to her which she was in need of. At the time Graves noticed that her hoodings were "wrought an inch from the stemme on each side soe that the sea might have free passage in the rest". Graves went on to say that "hee heard some of the company of the Pilgrim say that shee had bin in that condition in the voyage from whence shee was lately returned, for that they could and did soe the sea come in at her hoodeings".[13]

When the Pilgrim was brought into Abraham Graves' dock in May 1655 it was to be navel hooded, but not newly sheathed. However, "after search made by this deponent and his servants they in the new calkeing of her found her to nee much worme eaten and soe worme eaten that there was a necessitie of sheathing of her, which was accordingly done".[14]

Graves then turned to the necessary repairs to the Pilgrim after the accident with the ship the Exeter Merchant coming foul of her. Graves minimised the damage to the Pilgrim in his testimony, saying that the damage was restricted to the Pilgrim breaking her bowspritt, costing perhaps £5. He was, however, testifying on the behalf of Thomas Woodfin, one of the parties to the dispute.[15]

The young London merchant Phillip Bayliffe mentioned the yard of "one Mr Graves in Limehouse" in a deposition he made in the High Court f Admiralty on November 8th 1660. Baylliffe stated that "there were twelve chaines lying betweene London Bridge and Blackwall for the publique use, and there the same have layne for very many yeares, And saith that about a weeke or tenn dayes since the arlate Thomas Clarke, William Lee, George Joyce, Roger Ha[nnis] and William Brand did of this deponents sight and knowledge take upp one of the foresaid Chaines lying neare Blackwall and carried the same into the Yard of one Mr Clarke at Blackwall and the said persons aforenamed alsoe tooke up halfe another of the foresaid Chaines lying neere [?XXX] and carried the same into the Yard of one Mr Graves in Limehouse, In which places this deponent hath seene the same lying since their taking upp."[16]

Comment on sources


PROB 11/175/493 Will of John Graves, Shipwright of Limehouse, Middlesex 15 December 1637

- sons William aand Abraham are mentioned in will
- son Thomas and his heirs house where I now dwell near Dickshore in Lymehouse; son William and his heirs male one third of dock, wharf, yard and crane lying near to Dickshore aforesaid as far as it is boarded with the red house and way under it by the house that is tiled and now occupied by John Askew, joiner ; two thirds of said dock, yard, wharf and crane to sons Abraham and Nathaniel Greaves and if they die without heires male to the survivor, and if they all three so die to my sons Thomas, Matthew and Robert; in case either choose to sell the others to have option of buying at £5 less than any one else ; sons Abraham and Nathaniel £50 each, and they to be freed of their apprenticeship indentures[17]


C 6/151Pt2/28 Short title: Moudiford v Greaves. Plaintiffs: James Moudiford, Robert Dawes, Jonathan Dawes, William Rider, John Portman and Philip Scarth. Defendants: Abraham Greaves, Sarah Greaves his wife and Richard Hutchinson. Subject: money matters, Middlesex. Document type: answer only. 1659

- The suit was brought by James Modyford and number of of London merchants and executors of deceased London merchants, who were part owners of the Thomas and William. These part owners and fellow plaintiffs included William Ryder, the merchants Jonathan Dawes and John Robinson, and the London goldsmith, John Portman. The suit relates to events in 1652. At dispute was the behaviour of Sarah Greaves, widow of the now deceased ship's captain, John Jefferson, and the Treasurer of the Navy, Richard Hutchinson. The Bill of Complaint alleges that the then Sarah Jefferson had concealed the ship's account books, and, together with the Treasurer, had conspired to withhold moneys due to the part owners of the ship.[18]


PROB 11/326/323 Will of William Greaves, Shipwright of Stepney, Middlesex 03 March 1668


ADM 106/319/236 Francis Barham, John Greaves, Jonas Shish junr., Elfrid Elve, Abraham Greaves, John Yarwood and John Longe, Shipwrights' Hall. They have surveyed the frigate being built at Woolwich by Phineas Pett and find the timbers placed too far apart. They have also surveyed the frigate being built by Anthony Deane at Henry Johnson's yard to be well performed. 1676 May 17


ADM 106/333/304 Navy Board: Records. IN-LETTERS. Miscellaneous. Francis Barham, John Greaves, Abraham Greaves, Richard Boys, John Longe, Mark Croney, Company of Shipwrights. Report of 3rd Rates being built at Henry Johnson's and Robert Castell's shipyards at Blackwall and Deptford. 26 June 1678

ADM 106/333/332 Navy Board: Records. IN-LETTERS. Miscellaneous. Abraham Greaves, Jonas Shish, Captain Richard Potter, Deptford. Captain Castle and one of the other merchant Shipwrights say they were told they would receive an additional allowance but this is not true. 21 June 1678

ADM 106/333/336 Jonas Shish, Deptford. Report of the Yarmouth's defects lying in Mr Johnson's dry dock at Blackwall. Captain Potter and Abraham Graves believe that the valuation of the Yarmouth in their certificate is accurate. 1678 July 15

ADM 106/333/342 Jonas Shish, Captain Richard Potter, Abraham Graves, Deptford. They give an account of the number of days they have each spent surveying the Ruby, the Happy Return, the Assurance, the Adventure, the Dartmouth, the Richmond and the Success and ask for an allowance. 1678 Sept 30

ADM 106/336/437 Thomas Lewsley, Purveyor. Asks for a warrant for Deptford to receive goods from Captain Castle, Robert Castle, Abraham Graves, Richard Wood and George Body for the 30 new ships. 1678 Jan 23


PROB 11/395/312 Will of Abraham Greaves, Gentleman of Stepney, Middlesex 03 June 1689


PROB 11/447/513 Will of William Greaves, Shipwright of Stepney, Middlesex 22 November 1698
  1. Anonymous, Greaves family of Stepney, London, England, and descendants of Rear Admirall Thomas Graves of Charlestown, Massachusetts, rev. 12 Dec. 2007;Greaves Family of Stepney, London, England and Descendants of Rear Admiral Thomas Graves of Charlestown, MA (Gen. 28), Autosomal DNA Testing, rev. 22 Oct 2012
  2. MRP: C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 1 C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 1; MRP: C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 2 C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 2; MRP: C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 3 C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 3
  3. PROB 11/175/493 Will of John Graves, Shipwright of Limehouse, Middlesex 15 December 1637; PROB 11/326/323 Will of William Greaves, Shipwright of Stepney, Middlesex 03 March 1668
  4. PROB 11/175/493 Will of John Graves, Shipwright of Limehouse, Middlesex 15 December 1637
  5. HCA 13/70 f.497v
  6. Online genealogical resource: http://www.elsberry.org/ghtout/gp738.htm, viewed 26/10/2016
  7. PROB 11/395/312 Will of Abraham Greaves, Gentleman of Stepney, Middlesex 03 June 1689
  8. G.W. Hill, W.H. Frere (eds.), Memorials of Stepney Parish (Guilfrd, 1890-91), p.157
  9. G.W. Hill, W.H. Frere (eds.), Memorials of Stepney Parish (Guilfrd, 1890-91), p.203
  10. G.W. Hill, W.H. Frere (eds.), Memorials of Stepney Parish (Guilfrd, 1890-91), p.230
  11. HCA 13/71 f.478r
  12. HCA 13/72 f.459v
  13. HCA 13/72 f.459v
  14. HCA 13/72 f.459v
  15. HCA 13/72 f.460r
  16. HCA 13/73 f.537v
  17. Eben Putnam, 'Notes on the ancestry and connections of Rear Admiral Thomas Graves of Charlestown, Mass.'Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. 31 (Salem, Mass., 1894-95), esp. pp.169-170, viewed 26/10/2016
  18. MRP: C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 1 C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 1; MRP: C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 2 C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 2; MRP: C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 3 C 6/151Pt2/28 f. 3