I remember wondering since I was little, what does our name mean? Does it mean graves of the sea like my sister Deanna thought? Or does it mean something different?
I think I found the answer to this interesting question:
This next is according to James Seagraves, who has been doing research on our family name for years now. I will paraphase some of what he said, on the Seagraves Family Genealogy Forum. If you would like to read the quote in full, use your search engines and type in Seagraves Family Forum then click on the one marked genalogy.com. That should take you there!
The family name is based on the village of Seagrave or Segrave(the older spelling) in Leicestershire in the English Midlands. (I checked-yep, it's there!) He goes on to mention that the original meaning of the name of the town; is an old English reference to a grove original spelled grave--of trees by a bit of water, known as a Se or Sea.(hence the name Segrave)
It was more common in the middle ages for people not to have family names, as long as they lived in a small farming villages, where everyone knew everyone else. There were too few people to require such distinctions.
William was just William, unless there was two of them. As populations grew and towns became larger, it was nessary to distinguish people better to advoid confusion. William became William the Farmer or William the Mason. When someone left his town he would be known as William of Salisbury or William of Segrave. After the Norman invaded, then French was the lauguage of the rulers. The French version of the word "of" is "de" so he would have been recorded as William de Segrave. Many of our family were known as de Segrave in those early years.
The family described in detail in Charles W. Seagrave's book, "The Seagraves family 1066 to 1935" published in London in 1936, were the nobles and Lords of Segrave, and major landowners in Ireland. (Isn't that cool, we maybe Irish!) Other individuals who lived in the village of Segrave would have probably adopted the "de Segrave" name as well, and have ultimately been ancestors of many of us. Due to the normal lack of written records of the non-nobility, we are not likely to find much of these folks. (These people would have been the so-called "dirt realitives" to the landowners.)