Only recently I discovered that my distant g..uncle Francis Cavers in Hawick had died from injuries sustained in an assault in 1874. His death certificate, which I’d checked previously, gave the cause of death as “inflammation of Brain, 8 days”, which didn’t strike me as anything unusual. But it was only through a search in the online Scotsman newspaper archive that I discovered the fuller story:
The Scotsman; 1874 July 7. JEDBURGH-JURY COURT-At a Jury Court at Jedburgh yesterday, Walter Murray, labourer, Wilton-dean, was charged with assaulting Francis Cavers, gardener, Wilton Lodge, by knocking him down with his fist, and attempting to strangle him. From the evidence it appeared that each party had given the other the lie before the assault took place. Cavers had been so seriously maltreated that congestion of the brain set in, and he died three weeks after the assault. The jury, by a majority, found the charge proven, but considering that there might have been provocation, recommended the prisoner to the leniency of the Court. The Sheriff sentenced Murray to two months’ imprisonment.
Sometime I plan to check local newspapers in Hawick, to see if they say any more about the incident and subsequent death and trial. I’d also like to check the trial papers, if they survive, but I’m not sure if they’d be in Edinburgh, or in Jedburgh. The death must have had a big impact on the family at the time. Francis Cavers was married, with six children, and also had many surviving brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces. He was the oldest son of Thomas Cavers and Helen Scott, and a great-grandson of James Cavers and Isabella Coltherd.